4 Reasons Why Your Spider Plant Has Brown Leaf Tips

The spider plant, also known as chlorophytum comosum, is a popular and relatively easy to care for houseplant. With its long, arching leaves and baby spiderettes, it adds visual interest and greenery to any indoor space. However, even the hardiest houseplants can develop issues, and brown leaf tips are a common problem for spider plants.

Brown tips on the ends of spider plant leaves are usually an indication that something is wrong with its care regimen. But never fear! With just a few adjustments, your spider plant can return to excellent health. Here are the four most common reasons why your spider plant has brown leaf tips and what you can do about them.


The #1 reason for brown leaf tips on a spider plant is overwatering. Spider plants prefer to dry out slightly between waterings, and sitting in soggy soil can cause root rot and other problems. Here are some signs that you are giving your spider plant too much water:

Wet Soil That Stays Moist

The most obvious sign of overwatering is that the soil stays wet for too long after you’ve watered. Check the soil with your finger about an inch down – if it feels cool and damp even a few days after watering, you need to cut back.

Moldy Smell from the Soil

Overly wet soil can lead to mold and rotting roots. If you notice a bad smell coming from the pot or see mold growing on top of the soil, you have almost certainly been overwatering.

Soft, Mushy Leaves

In addition to brown leaf tips, overly soggy soil can cause the leaves to turn soft and mushy. Healthy spider plant leaves should feel firm.

Root Rot

The most severe result of overwatering is root rot. This disease causes the roots to essentially melt and die off due to excess moisture. Check for brown, slimy roots if you suspect your plant is rotting.

How to Fix It

Thankfully, overwatering issues can often be reversed if caught early. Let the soil dry out completely, then give it a good soak only when the top inch or two of soil is dry to touch. Pour out any water that collects in the saucer beneath the pot after 30 minutes so the plant doesn’t sit in it. You may also need to repot the plant in fresh, dry soil if root rot has set in. Add perlite or small rocks to the new potting mix to improve drainage.


While overwatering is the most common cause of brown tips on spider plants, the opposite problem – underwatering – can also cause issues. Here are signs your plant is not getting enough moisture:

Dry, Crunchy Leaves

If the leaf tips and edges turn brown and crispy, it usually indicates underwatering. The leaves may start to curl and fold inward as well.

Soil Pulls Away From the Sides of the Pot

Underwatered soil shrinks and contracts, leaving a gap between the dirt and the pot. Check for dry, cracked soil that stays bone dry days after watering.

Drooping or Wilting Leaves

Lack of water causes the leaves to lose their firmness and go limp. They may start to wilt or droop.

Slow or No New Growth

A severely underwatered spider plant will stop producing new leaves and offshoots. Existing leaves may also start to turn brown or yellow.

How to Fix It

Thankfully, underwatering is normally an easy fix. Give the plant a good, thorough soaking and let the excess water drain out the bottom. Then let the soil dry slightly before watering again. Add water-retaining materials like peat or coconut coir to help keep moisture levels more constant. Misting the leaves can provide a small humidifier effect as well.

Low Humidity

Spider plants prefer 40-50% relative humidity, which can be a challenge to provide indoors. Dry air leads to excessive transpiration, causing leaf tips to dry out and turn brown. Here are some signs that low humidity may be the culprit:

Dry Air in Your Home

Use a hygrometer to check the humidity level in the room where your plant lives. Anything below 40% will likely cause issues.

Leaf Tips Turn Brown But Soil is Moist

If the soil seems to stay sufficiently damp between waterings but the tips still turn brown, low RH is likely to blame.

New Growth Looks Healthy

With underwatering, all the leaves would be affected. If it’s just the tips on older leaves turning brown, low RH is likely the problem.

How to Fix It

Try these tips to increase the humidity around your spider plant:

  • Use a humidifier nearby.
  • Put the pot on a pebble tray filled with water.
  • Mist the plant regularly with a spray bottle.
  • Move it to a naturally more humid spot like the bathroom or kitchen.
  • Put it in a room with other plants – they’ll collectively increase humidity.

Too Much Fertilizer

While they are not heavy feeders, spider plants still need some fertilizer to look their best. But too much can cause the tips of the leaves to turn brown. Follow these guidelines to make sure you don’t over-fertilize:

Use a Balanced, Water-Soluble Fertilizer

Look for a fertilizer where the three numbers on the package are relatively close (e.g. 10-8-9). Avoid “hot” fertilizers with very high middle numbers.

Feed Every 2-4 Weeks During Spring and Summer

Fertilize lightly but frequently in the active growing months. Once a month is sufficient in fall and winter.

Refer to Label Directions

Mix the fertilizer more dilutely than the package recommends. Many synthetic fertilizers can burn the tender roots and leaves if not diluted enough.

Flush the Soil Regularly

Every few months, give the plant a thorough watering without any fertilizer to flush out any buildup of salts. Let the water drain completely.

How to Fix It

If you suspect fertilizer burn, flush the soil as described above and avoid feeding for at least a month to allow the plant to recover. Repotting may be necessary for severe cases. In the future, apply less fertilizer less frequently to prevent issues.

Frequently Asked Questions About Brown Leaf Tips on Spider Plants

If your spider plant has brown leaves, here are some common questions and answers:

Is It Normal for Older Spider Plant Leaves to Turn Brown?

It is normal for just the very tips of older leaves to turn brown occasionally as the plant goes through its natural life cycle. But significant browning generally indicates a cultural issue.

How Much Light Does a Spider Plant Need to Prevent Browning?

Spider plants grow best in bright, indirect light. Low light can sometimes cause browning leaf tips. Make sure your plant gets several hours of strong natural or artificial light per day.

Can Leaf Browning Be Caused by Using Tap Water?

Yes, fluoride and other chemicals in tap water can cause brown leaf tips over time. Use distilled or rain water if possible. Letting tap water sit out overnight before using can help reduce chemicals.

I Already Removed the Brown Parts – Will New Leaf Tips Turn Brown?

The browning itself does not spread – it’s just a symptom. As long as you correct the underlying issue, whether under or overwatering, new leaves should grow in healthy.

Are Brown Leaves a Sign My Spider Plant is Dying?

Not necessarily! Catching the problem early and adjusting care often allows the plant to recover fully. Just trim off the worst of the brown parts. If the whole leaf turns brown, remove it at the base. New healthy growth will replace it.


If the tips of the leaves on your spider plant turn brown, don’t panic! In most cases the problem is easily fixed by adjusting your watering or humidity level. Just be sure to determine the cause and take appropriate corrective action. With proper care, your spider plant’s lush green leaves will return in no time. Consistent yet minimal fertilization, bright indirect light, and proper moisture will keep your chlorophytum comosum healthy for years to come.