Asked on Dec 30, 2011

What causes TIPS of leaves to turn brown and how to fix the problem?

Jim Ginas
by Jim Ginas
1) Note on the Palm, most leaves are very healthy and a couple turned yellow.
2) Note on the Bromeliad, the tips all turned brown. What causes tips to brown, and do I ut them off? (I have before and it doesn't seem to work.) Can't get flower to grow again either.
Bromeliad - No Flower, Leaves Tips brown
Majestic Palm - Leaves Tips brown
Majestic Palm
Bromeliad - Tips turning Brown
Majestic Palm - Leaves Tips brown
Palm - SEEMS Healthy, BUT OLDER Leaves Tips brown. NOTE: NEW leaf sprouts all look good.
Palm - OLDER Leaves Tips brown (Near bottom of plant)
  22 answers
  • Douglas Hunt Douglas Hunt on Dec 31, 2011
    Jim, browning leaf tips on a bromeliad are usually a sign that the plant is too dry. You should always keep a little water in the central cup, and make sure the soil or potting medium is evenly moist, but not wet. Almost all bromeliads bloom only once. After they bloom they turn their energy into producing the next generation of plants, offsets called pups. Moisture may be the issue for your palm as well, which looks otherwise healthy. Unless this is a frequent problem, I would not worry about the occasional mature leaf turning yellow. You could increase the humidity by putting your palm on a tray of pebbles and keeping some water in the tray. Also, if your plants are always watered with tap water, chemicals and salts can build up in the soil. Use distilled water, or fill a watering can and let the water sit for a day before you use it.
  • Jim Ginas Jim Ginas on Dec 31, 2011
    Doug, !! Thank you!! Majestic Palm: I've read online last night about the moisture also. Pan with water near them, or sit in a pan of water for the plant to benefit from the humidity/evaporation. I see you state w/ pebbles-easy enough. ** We are guilty of using TAP water. If we let water sit in old plastic milk containers, will the chemicals settle at the bottom or would it be even better to use a Water Filter container? Bromeliad: watering-Thank you. - Do I cut "pups" and place in water to grow roots for eventual new growth? If so, how long before a plant with another flower blooms? (I have the time and patience for 1-2 years, but if it's every 3-5 years, might just be better to buy a new one with a new flower?) I've also added pics from a Palm from the Sunroom. THIS one stays in the Sunroom year round. (The Majestic Palm gets replanted in a planter behind the pool come mid spring.)
  • Tammie W Tammie W on Dec 31, 2011
    Yes, they need moistue in the room. I use a humidifier and it seems to work fine!!
  • Jim Ginas Jim Ginas on Dec 31, 2011
    @ Tammie: had a similar thought!
  • Joan K Joan K on Dec 31, 2011
    I use a spray bottle with water on my plants every day. It seems to help as well.
  • Jim Ginas Jim Ginas on Dec 31, 2011
    I was reading a page last night on prepping plants for the winter. It stated to put a pan of water near the plants or use a Misting bottle to ensure the humidity. I expect both work well, though assume the pan of water only has to have water added every few days. then again, the daily care of the plants with the misting, could also be theraputic! I check the plants daily. - Tammie uses a Humidifier and that works well for her!
  • Jim Ginas Jim Ginas on Dec 31, 2011
    Thanks everyone. ONLY question I have is what to do about the leaves with BLACK tips? Cut/Trim them? Any Fertilizer in the winter for the Palms?
  • Jim Ginas Jim Ginas on Dec 31, 2011
    @ Joan : Your plants and flowers are so full and look great! I'd LOVE to have my flowers and plants grow like that. Do you do these yourself or someone comes in and takes care of them? I had 2 new Spinkler zones put in to make sure the plants get plenty pf water daily, and mine didn't grow as well this year.
  • Joan K Joan K on Dec 31, 2011
    @Jim - I do them myself. These are three big pots in the profile picture which sit on my patio. They are all annuals so every spring I re-pot with different flowers and colors. The big green plant in the front is a potatoe vine which ANYONE can grow. They are an accent plant and when you buy them the are really little. I think I planted four in that one pot in May (I'm zone 5) and by July they were that big. The others are different types of coleus, petununias, gerber daisys and others. GOOD potting soil and water consistently is all it takes.
  • Douglas Hunt Douglas Hunt on Jan 01, 2012
    @Jim: It should take a year or two to go from pup to blooming plant. You remove the pup when it is about a third the size of the mother plant and plant them directly into a new pot with growing medium, not in water. You'll find a complete guide to harvesting and growing them here:
  • Jim Ginas Jim Ginas on Jan 01, 2012
    @Doug: thank you! I see what you are describing as a "pup". I'll cut that and plant in a soil and try and grow a new plant. I'm excited! thanks!
  • Sherrie S Sherrie S on Jan 01, 2012
    Joan, your plants are really beautiful but I would caution Ken about the potato vine. In Florida it is considered an invasive weed. It is really very pretty but it will cover and kill trees. It grows terribly fast like Kudzu.
  • Mike and Anne Mike and Anne on Jan 01, 2012
    Sometimes excess fertilizer salts or chlorine in water will turn the tips of leaves brown. If you used tap water for plants that may be part of the problem with brown leaf tips. One way to help the problem is to allow tap water to sit in a container overnight or longer before using it on plants. There is no problem with cutting off the leaf tips; there will be some discoloration at the tip of the leaf but it will not be as much as the current damage. Use sharp scissors and trim the tip to the natural shape the leaf "should" have.
  • Joan K Joan K on Jan 01, 2012
    @Sherrie - Thanks for passing that along. Since I live in Illinois, we don't have that problem. But keeping in containers/pots should be OK right?
  • Sherrie S Sherrie S on Jan 01, 2012
    Joan, keep that vine confined & it should be OK. When it gets bigger it will have long vines with many little potatoes waiting to get into the ground & take over your yard. You are lucky - you probably don't have Kudzu either. Maybe your winter kills them. Florida winter didn't do the job. Jim I hope you don't have that problem.
  • Jim Ginas Jim Ginas on Jan 01, 2012
    Thanks Sherrie. I think I'll keep them in planters also. I like the leaves/foliage.
  • Faidra at  CA Global Inc Faidra at CA Global Inc on Jan 09, 2012
    Joan, I'm not in IL but I don't think there's any problem w/potato vines as they die off with the cold, it is a beautiful accent plant as you say, I use them in my window boxes, on decks, hanging baskets in around all my palms, very dramatic display, use purple and both variations of green. Ended up the next spring with a couple dozen tasty finglerling potatoes to boot!
  • Douglas Hunt Douglas Hunt on Jan 09, 2012
    I don't think potato vine is a problem where you get some substantial cold weather. In Florida where we don't, it's a different story. What's considered invasive is often a factor of where you live.
    • Carol G Carol G on Jun 27, 2016
      I planted 1 potato and now it has taken over my whole back yard...I live in Louisiana
  • Doerr Landscape Design Doerr Landscape Design on Jan 13, 2012
    Jim , Mike and Ann have the answer for you . Many years ago I did interior plants and the burning on the tips is caused by the salts in our water . using distilled water helps a lot . you can also just trim the brown off but try to cut in a point just like the original shape.
  • Israel Baruch Israel Baruch on Dec 28, 2014
    Too much water, should be slightly watered only when the soil dry
  • Bklynrn Bklynrn on Apr 22, 2017

    If you live in a hard water area, I would only use distilled water to water your plants. There may be too much chlorine or salts in the water. Leeching will help remove some of the salts. You would immerse the plant in water to the soil level, let it sit for a few hours, then let it drain.

  • Pas17491360 Pas17491360 on Apr 22, 2017

    Tips of leaves and lower fronds on palms are natural die off with age.

    Certainly monitor the amounts of humidity and water on all plants. Filtered water could help, too.