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Symptoms of Over Watering, Leaf Tips Brown & Crunchy

Updated on April 6, 2016

The simple explanation.

If your houseplant has been getting unsightly brown at the very tips of the leaves or around the edges of the leaves, there are a few things that may be happening.

The simplest explanation of this phenomenon is that you have been over-watering your plant. The way that the brown tips occur is by the plant having more moisture than it needs, roots will continue to wick up the excess water to the plant body, the plant cells will continue to fill up one by one and attempt to pass the liquid on to the next cell by osmosis. This system works wonderfully until the moisture reaches the cells located at the end of the line, these cells have no place to pass excessive moisture on to, so they continue to fill until they burst creating crusty brown tips on the edges of leaves.

Another Symptom of over watering that is commonly confused with under watering, is the appearance of yellow leaves.

  • Yellow leaves caused by over watering will be a mosaic of both yellow and green throughout the leaf and the leaves will still be firmly attached to the plant.
  • Yellow leaves caused by under watering will be solid yellow and will fall of or detach with little to no effort. To learn more about under watering symptoms check the link to the right.

The detailed explanation.

If the simple explanation of over-watering has not satisfactorily explained your problem then you will want to read the following circumstantial causes. Many circumstances in a plants environment can create the same phenomenon as over-watering choosing the proper environment for a plant and adjusting its watering to fit that environment are the things that make or break a green thumb.

  • Lack of light: If you have placed plant in less light than it requires to thrive, it will slow down all of its functions. Simply put it will not use water as fast as it would if it were in the proper light condition, creating an excess in in moisture.
  • Inconsistency: If you have a tendency to neglect your plant to the point of wilting, and then over correct buy giving a huge drink, it is very typical that the plant will force too much water through, creating a similar overabundance in moisture.
  • Moving: If a plant has recently been moved from one spot to another many things may be different in the new environment that cause and overabundance of moisture.
  • Temperature: most commonly cold or cool ness is the factor in creating a moisture rich environment for a plant, but hot humid environments can be equally damaging.

Over watering & Fungus Gnats

Fungus gnats are a houseplant pest that is synonomous with over watering.

Chronic watering causes root rot, and fungal issues that are perfect for supporting a healthy colony of obnoxious Fungus Gnats. The appearance of gnats can be a good indicator that you may be over doing it when applying water to your plant. There are some other ways to contract gnats, but over watering is a very common cause. The link to the right will give you all the information you need on identifying, treating and preventing fungus gnats.

Caring for Plant with Brown Tips

Preventing Brown Leaf Tips.

Since we know that the brown tips are caused essentially by over watering the best preventative measure is to, properly water your plant. To be able to do that you must know what your dealing with.


  • What Kind of plant you have
  • How much light it requires
  • How much water it likes (is it a heavy or light drinker)
  • What kind of light does your plant receive (at different times of the day)
  • What kind of airflow exists
  • Is there heat or cold
  • How does this environment compare to the plant in question.

After all this when you water make sure you are providing the right amount of water to your plant, for most plants allow a brief drying period in between watering's. Plants do need to get oxygen to there roots as well as water. There are tools such as moisture probes, and moisture meters available to aid in the task of watering, these can be helpful especially for those who are not experienced with plants.

All plants are not created equal, they all have different needs and requirements you must be familiar with your subject, in order to be a good caretaker. Learning to be discriminating when watering a plant is similar to the tough love concept with family members.

Just because watering makes you feel good, does not necessarily mean it is what is best for the happiness of your subject.

Do you love your plants just a little too much?

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    • Just Ask Susan profile image

      Susan Zutautas 5 years ago from Ontario, Canada

      Very useful information and I have bookmarked your hub for future use. Thanks and Welcome to HubPages.

    • thoughthole profile image

      thoughthole 5 years ago from Utah

      Thank you for the feedback, I'll keep em coming.

    • Kaili Bisson profile image

      Kaili Bisson 5 years ago from Canada

      Hi there...great hubs. Any tips on the dreaded cyclamen?

    • thoughthole profile image

      thoughthole 5 years ago from Utah

      Thank you Kaili. I have one litte tidbit on Cyclamen. Cyclamen like cold water,they are much like spring bulbs (tulips, daffodill & such). Try watering your cyclamen by simply leaving about 3 ice cubes on the soil (assuming its in a 4" pot you may need a couple more if 6"), see what happens. It should cut down on the rotting stems, and yellowing leaves. Moderate diffused light is ideal, high light works with increased attention, no low light. I have heard a lot about Cyclamen Mites but have not experienced them much here in Utah interiors, they may be more problematic in other areas though, that may be something worth looking into if your having troubles. Rinsing your Cyclamen foliage with cool water and moderating the light exposure should help with Mites if they are an issue.

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