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Calathea Care

Calathea With Brown Leaves: What Is The Problem?

by Plants for all Seasons 02 Apr 2022

If the leaves on your Calathea are turning brown it is a sign that something is wrong with your plant. In this guide we will take you through everything that could be causing brown leaves on a Calathea and how to sort them out.

Water quality

The first thing to check if the leaves of your Calathea start to brown is the type of water you are watering your plant with. Tap water contains a lot of salts, chlorine and other minerals that aren’t the best for your plant’s roots. When these substances build up in your plant’s soil it stops the roots from absorbing everything the plant needs to thrive. When this happens, the leaves on your plant will brown at the edges and begin to curl up.

Fixing this issue is pretty easy, you can leave your water out for a day before you intend to water your plant. This will give most of the chemicals time to evaporate which makes the water a lot safer for the plant. Another way to improve the quality of your water is to put it through a water filter to remove more of the impurities.

Low humidity

Calathea plants take in a lot of their moisture through their leaves. When the ambient humidity in a room is too low, your plant cannot take in enough water and will begin to dry out. When your leaves begin to brown and turn a papery texture it means your plant needs a more humid environment. The easiest way to sort this issue out is to begin misting the leaves regularly, put your plant on a pebble tray or introduce a humidifier to the space.

Dry soil

Your Calathea likes to have soil that is moist, but not wet. It can be easy for the soil of your Calathea to dry out too much and when this happens the leaves will turn brown and shrivel up. To rectify this you should be checking your soil regularly to ensure that only the top few centimeters are dry. Remember that your plant will need watering more often in the summer. Another way to rectify this is to add perlite or vermiculite to your soil.

Will brown leaves on Calathea turn green again?

Brown leaves on a Calathea are a sign that something is wrong with your plant. Brown leaves can however be a problem of their own if left alone too long. A brown leaf cannot absorb any light or create energy for the plant, but it will still use energy up.

You need to encourage your plant to redirect its energy to the production of new foliage. This can be done in a few ways:

Remove the brown parts of the leaf - the brown sections of a leaf will never turn green again and are just a drain on your Calathea’s energy. If a leaf has large sections of brown colouration, remove the entire thing with a sharp pair of scissors or shears. If there are only small spots on the leaves that are discolored, you only need to cut off those small bits to keep a leaf healthy.

Remove leaves in stages - because a Calathea takes so much of its energy and moisture from its foliage you want to make sure you are never removing more than a quarter of the foliage at any time. Removing any more than this will put your plant into shock and cause a problem where your plant doesn’t receive enough energy to maintain itself or produce new foliage. This will eventually cause your Calathea to die.

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