Prayer plants are best known for their colorful patterned leaves that move during the day and night. They get their name thanks to their closing leaves which form a prayer pose.
However, when these leaves turn brown or you see brown, crispy tips, it means the plant needs help. In this article, I will discuss everything you need to now about prayer plant turning brown.
Why does your prayer plant have brown tips? Brown tips on Prayer Plant is most commonly caused by lack of humidity.
Prayer plants like moderate to high humidity between 50% and 60% at least. Although, they will tolerate 40% humidity.
If your home’s humidity is consistently lower or you have dry air where you live, the plant will experience brown tips and edges due to the dry air.
Why does your prayer plant have brown leaves? Brown leaves in prayer plants often means the plant lacks water. But it can also be caused by overwatering and root rot.
Therefore, check the soil by feeling if it is wet and soggy or very dry. If the soil is very dry, the plant is underwatered.
If the soil feels wet, check for root rot and fix it immediately.
Why Do Prayer Plants Leaves Get Brown Tips and Edges?
The most common reason for prayer plant with brown tips and edges is insufficient humidity.
In general, the plant likes humidity to stay at 50% and above. Although, some prayer plant varieties are more sensitive and prefer 60% humidity or higher.
That said, there are many prayer plants that will tolerate lower humidity without any problem.
However, there is a limit to this.
Often, if you leave the plant in humidity that is below 40% for long periods of time it will not be happy. And you’ll see it as your prayer plants leaves will have brown tips and margins. These will also get crispy and brittle because they get dry.
The reason is that the moisture is not reaching the ends of the leaves.
Another possible reason for brown tips on prayer plants is lack of water in the soil. But this is secondary to low humidity.
That said, if the soil is dry, you can see the tips of leaves turn brown as well.
Similarly, if the soil drains too quickly and the roots are not able to get enough water before the moisture drains, this can happen.
Again, this happens less often compared to brown tips due to lack of humidity.
The problem with brown tips in prayer plants is that if untreated, it will get worse. You’ll see more leaves getting brown tips and edges. These will spread and cover more of the leaves as time passes.
It can also lead to dropping foliage.
How do you fix this? To fix prayer plant brown tips and edges due to low humidity, make sure to keep track of the humidity in your home. You can pick up a hygrometer which is quite affordable.
If humidity is too low, place the plant in a humidity tray or mist it 2-3 times a week. You can also use a humidifier if you don’t mind spending a bit of cash.
Why Do Prayer Plants Leaves Turn Brown?
Prayer plant leaves turning brown usually indicate a moisture issue. But if the entire leaf is turning brown instead of just the tips and edges, then pay more attention to watering than humidity.
In this case, it is more about the moisture in the soil than moisture in the air.
Brown tips and edges are caused lack of humidity or dry air.
On the other hand, brown leaves is often caused by lack of water. However, it can also be caused by overwatering.
Therefore, if you notice entire leaves are turning brown instead of the edges, it is very important to investigate further.
Your goal is to determine whether the watering issue is overwatering or underwatering. That’s because if you guess incorrectly, then you’ll be worsening the situation.
For example, you’ll end up adding water to an overwatered prayer plant. Or you could be drying out an already dehydrated prayer plant.
Thus, the best way to verify one from the other is feel the soil.
If the plant is overwatered, the soil will feel wet, soggy, or mucky. But if the plant is underwatered, the soil will likely be very dry.
Just stick your finger into the soil and you’ll be able to tell.
If the soil is very dry:
Water your prayer plant thoroughly.
This means soaking the entire root ball. Don’t water above the leaves so they all get wet. Instead, place the hose on the rim of the pot so the water goes directly to the soil.
Or you can use a watering can with a long neck so you can directly pour onto the soil.
Once the liquid starts dripping from under the drainage holes under the pot, stop adding water. At this point the entire root ball is saturated with water and the roots are happily getting lots of hydration.
Now, immediately let the soil drain.
It will keep dripping as the excess moisture will exit through the pot’s drainage hole. This can take anywhere between 10 to 30 minutes depending on how big the pot is.
So, just set the pot on a stand that will allow the water to drip into the sink or bathtub. Leave it and come back to check.
Allow the soil to completely drain. This will leave you with moist soil and well-hydrated roots with no risk of overwatering.
If the soil feels wet or soggy:
Don’t water the plant. Instead, allow the soil to dry out.
Pour out any excess liquid in the pot if there is any. If the pot is sitting on top of a saucer or some kind of catch tray below it, throw away any water in that as well.
Move the plant to a warm spot with bright, indirect light and good ventilation. This will help it dry faster.
If you don’t want to wait for the soil to dry to reduce the risk of root rot, repot the plant into fresh, dry, well-draining soil.
This will help it recover faster.
In both cases, prune the brown leaves after.
Soft, Brown Leaves
Now that you know what to do when you see brown leaves on prayer plants, I’ll get more into the details.
In some cases, you can tell what’s actually happening by feeling the leaves. This lets you know more about what’s happening in addition to just the color of the foliage.
When you see brown leaves that are also soft, it is very likely that the plant is suffering from overwatering and root rot.
That’s because when you overwater your prayer plant, the roots end up sitting in water for too long. After a while, this can cause them to suffocate if the water does not recede.
Because roots need oxygen just as they need water, drowning in water prevents them from breathing in any air. As a result, they will rot.
With overwatering yellow leaves are usually the more common symptom. But at a later stage, you’ll see brown leaves appear as well.
That’s because brown leaves happen due to lack of moisture.
And when the roots have rotted, they will cease to function. Thus, the plant is not able to absorb enough moisture even if you keep watering the soil.
Thus, brown leaves from overwatering is more dangerous since it means there is already root rot occurring.
Therefore, whenever you see yellow or brown leaves on prayer plants, it is always worth the extra effort to check for root rot.
If there is any, prune the rotted roots. Then prune the affected leaves as well.
Your next step is to repot the plant into fresh, dry soil that is well-draining. This will allow the remaining healthy roots to recover.
Don’t water the plant for about a week to give it time to recover.
Then gradually start watering with a new adjusted watering schedule to avoid repeating what happened.
Dry Brown Leaves
On the other hand, if your prayer plant has dry, brown leaves this usually means lack of humidity or moisture in the soil.
However, it can also mean too much light, or your tap water has too many minerals in it.
But often, it is watering that’s the issue.
Therefore, the first thing to check if humidity.
The reason this can happen is that prayer plants are native to tropical rainforests. As such, they enjoy moderate to high humidity.
And then humidity is too low, the prayer plants leave can turn brown. Often, this begins with the tips and edges.
So, the best way to fix this is to check the humidity using a hygrometer.
This will instantly tell you what the humidity is around the plant. If humidity is 50% or higher, then it probably is not humidity but dry soil instead.
Otherwise, a lower level means you can either:
- Mist the plant
- Place it on a humidity tray
- Get a humidifier
In case the brown leaves on your prayer plant is caused by dryness, check the soil. The soil should be very dry.
If so, add water to hydrate the roots.
Less occasionally, it won’t be a watering issue.
Therefore, if you have eliminated both humidity and dry soil, check for:
- Excess light – move the plant away from the sun’s rays. Try to keep it away from direct sunlight as this can discolor the leaves and burn the plant.
- High tap water mineral content – if your city adds a lot of minerals to the tap, you can use rainwater or filter the tap. Alternatively, you can let tap water sit at room temperature at least overnight to allow the excess chemicals to evaporate before watering your plants.
Common Reasons for Brown Leaves in Prayer Plants
Now that you know what brown leaves in prayer plants mean and how to treat them, I’ll discuss the different causes.
This will help you understand why those things are happening above. And these will also help you prevent brown tips and leaves on prayer plants in the future.
Lack of Moisture
Prayer plant with brown leaves and tips often means that there is a moisture problem.
If the entire leaf is brown, it is more likely that the plant is being underwatered. Although, there is always the chance that it is caused by overwatering.
So, check the soil first.
Wet, soggy soil means overwatering. Very dry soil means underwatering.
The reason brown leaves occur is Maranta plants like moist soil, but not wet, soggy soil.
As such, they don’t like the soil drying out completely or going bone dry. Also, they become susceptible to overwatering and root rot if you let the soil stay wet.
Therefore, staying slightly on the dry side is safer.
This is why the best way to water the plant is to wait until the top 2 inches of soil has dried before you add more water.
Or to be a bit more conservative, you can wait until the top 25% of soil has dried before watering.
Both methods work. So, you can go with either.
As a final note, prayer plants don’t only include maranta but also calathea, stromanthe and ctenanthe. They are grouped as such because their leaves fold up at night similar to a prayer pose.
- Why is my Prayer Plant Drooping? (Causes and Solutions)
- Why are My Prayer Plant Leaves Turning Yellow?
- How to Propagate Prayer Plants (Maranta)
- Prayer Plant Care – How to Grow the Maranta Plant
- Snake Plant Root Rot – Causes, Symptoms, Treatment, Prevention
- Why Does My Snake Plant Have Brown Leaves/ Tips
Another possible reason for prayer plant brown leaves and tips is uneven watering or shallow watering.
What this means is that you’re watering the soil until the surface is wet and leaving it at that.
When this happens, only parts of the leaves turn brown.
This happens because the plant does get water, but not enough of it. So, there isn’t enough to support all its needs.
So, make sure you employ deep watering or water the soil thoroughly.
This means adding water directly to the soil (not over the leaves) until the bottom of the pot starts dripping. Once the water drips from the bottom drainage holes, it means that the root ball has been soaked.
In doing so, the roots are well-hydrated. This gives the plant sufficient water.
Making sure this happens will prevent brown, crispy tips on leaves.
Don’t forget to let the excess moisture drain from the soil completely right after.
Tap Water Quality
If you municipality adds a lot of fluoride, chlorine or other minerals to its tap water, this can cause brown leaves on prayer plants as well.
That’s because the plant is sensitive to too much chemicals and minerals.
So, avoid using hard water or tap with lots of minerals.
If your local tap happens to have this, switch to rainwater or filter your tap water instead.
You can also let the tap water sit at least overnight so the chemicals can evaporate first before you water your plants with it.
While prayer plants benefit from fertilizer, too much fertilizer is bad for it.
And it can cause fertilizer burn due to excess salt build up in the soil.
This not only damages the roots but will also cause brown leaves and tips.
As such, avoid over fertilizing your prayer plants.
Also, it is good practice to flush the soil using water once every few months. This will carry the excess salts and minerals that have built up in the soil.
Prayer plants prefer humidity of 50% to 60%. Although, it will do well as long as humidity stays at 40% and higher.
As such, if you live in areas with dry air, it is important to keep track of what the humidity is around the plant. I like to keep a hygrometer near my plants to make it easy to tell.
Just a glance in the morning will let me know what the humidity is and if I need to take any action to help the more sensitive plants.
If humidity consistently stays below 40%, you will need to keep it up. You can do so by grouping all your houseplants together.
Another option is to mist the plant every few days.
A simpler, more hands off method is to use a humidity dry. You can easily DIY this by filling a tray with water and put a grill on top to keep the plant on the grill. As the water evaporates, humidity goes up since air moisture increases.
Prayer plant brown leaves can be caused by excess light as well. More specifically, leaving the plant under direct sunlight for more than 3 hours a day on a regular basis.
These plants grow in tropical rainforests under the canopy of large trees. As such, the sun’s rays are blocked out by the branches and leaves overhead.
Therefore, they do not bear the brunt of the intensity of the sun.
Thus, prayer plants cannot tolerate direct sunlight during the hottest times of the day which is between 10:30 a.m. to 3:30 a.m. on an everyday basis.
When kept in this environment, you’ll soon see its leaves turn brown as they get scorched.
Instead, keep the plant in medium to bright, indirect light.
High or Low Temperatures
Prayer plants enjoys temperature between 65 to 80 degrees Fahrenheit.
While it can tolerate warmer conditions, the combination of strong sun that occurs during the warmest temperatures put the plant at risk of brown leaves.
Therefore, avoid leaving in temperatures above 95 degrees Fahrenheit.
That said, avoid temperature below 50 degrees Fahrenheit as well since the plant does not have good tolerance to the cold.