Why Is My Polka Dot Plant Turning Brown (Reasons and Solutions)

As beautiful as it may be, the polka dot plant can be challenging to keep in good condition. Many people find that the stunning colorful leaves of their prized ornamental plants are turning brown for what seems to be no apparent reason. So what is the cause of your polka dot plant’s decline?

Polka dot plants can turn brown for various reasons, but the main culprit is dehydration. If the leaves are browning without turning yellow first, it is generally a sign of underwatering, but overwatering and low humidity can also lead to the same results. Browning can also be a sign of root rot.

It’s sad when your once beautiful polka dot plants lose their bright colors and begin to brown. Luckily there are several ways to remedy the situation if you catch it early. Please read on to discover why your polka plant is browning and how to fix the problem.

How Dehydration Causes Browning in Polka Dot Plants

All plants droop when they aren’t getting an adequate supply of water. Drooping leaves are the first sign of dehydration, and the next step is browning leaves before the plant dies completely; If you notice that your polka dot plant has brown leaves, it probably means that it has suffered from dehydration for a while.

Note that dehydration can be the result of several things. For example, the polka dot plant won’t withstand the dry weather of Nevada unless you take specific measures. Even over watering can ultimately result in insufficient water for your polka dot plant. So, it is essential to follow a strict watering regimen.

The xylem system of plants is responsible for transporting water absorbed from the root structure and distributing it all over the plant. When plants are dehydrated, the water pressure in the stems and leaves drops. Lower water pressure weakens the cell walls in the plant’s leaves and stem, which leads to drooping.

Because there isn’t enough water circulating in the plant, all its systems slow down. In particular, chlorophyll production is reduced, showing brown spots on your polka dot plant’s leaves.

Can Diseases Turn Polka Dot Plant Leaves Brown?

Some diseases, such as root rot, can turn polka dot plant leaves brown, but there are other symptoms as well. For example, root rot will also give off a dank smell, and the roots will be mushy and black. Diseases are much harder to treat unless treated early on.

For most plant diseases that will turn your polka dot plant leaves brown, you will need to treat the disease first and worry about the browning leaves later. You will probably also need to report the plant and some pruning to remove diseased parts. Treating conditions in the polka dot plant is a much more difficult endeavor when compared to treating dehydration.

Regularly Inspecting your plant helps you catch diseases or spot any browning early on. If you can quickly diagnose the problems in your polka dot plant, you have a better chance of treating them. Soon, you’ll have a healthy and beautiful plant to enjoy.

Read: How To Make My Polka Dot Plant Bushy?

How To Revive a Browning Polka Dot Plant

It’s always a good idea to inspect your polka dot plant regularly for any changes to remedy any problems. If you find yourself with a browning polka dot plant, there’s still some hope that you can revive it.

It’s better to make changes as soon as you notice any browning because the longer you wait, the more difficult it will be to bring back your gorgeous plant. While I advise that you move quickly, there’s no need to panic. Most plants are more resilient than you think.

Even if you see that all the leaves are brown and falling off, it may still be worth it to repot the plant and try to salvage what’s left. Keep in mind that it will take a lot of patience and determination to nurse a dying plant back to life if you wait for long.

Balancing Your Polka Plant’s Water Levels

One essential truth is this—giving your polka dot plant the right amount of water is extremely important in keeping it healthy. You are hurting your plant if you add too much or too little water to the soil.

As you can expect, not giving your polka dot plant enough water will quickly lead to dehydration. You may want to determine that the dehydration is due to insufficient water supply and not excess evaporation (from too much sunlight or high temperatures).

Leaves that turn yellow first and then brown are clear signs of dehydration due to evaporation. If they suddenly turn brown, chances are good you are under-watering your plant.

On the other hand, adding too much water will also eventually lead to dehydration because the root structures cannot absorb water efficiently. Unless you’re willing to splurge on a moisture meter to measure how much water is in your soil, you will have to rely on your senses.

Stick a quarter-inch (0.64 cm) of your index finger into the soil to examine its wetness. If it’s dry, you can water the plant. If not, wait a day or two.

The best practice to ensure you are balancing water levels for your polka dot plant is to water the soil when the top quarter inch is dry (and not more).

Ensure that the soil is well-draining (stones at the bottom of pots help in this regard) and that you aren’t leaving the soil to dry too much. Ideally, the top inch should be dry when you come to water it, and the soil beneath should be damp.

Increasing Humidity for Your Polka Plant

Unless you’re living in Seattle, Washington, you’ll probably have some trouble making the humidity levels of the polka dot plant’s native environment. One option is to place your polka dot plant in a terrarium, which only works if the plant is small enough.

If you live in an area with a dry climate and want to enjoy those colorful variegated leaves without any brown spots, here are a few other ways to increase humidity around your polka dot plant:

  • A daily misting of your polka dot plants adds humidity. A clean spray bottle filled with distilled water is the easiest way to increase humidity around your polka dot plants. Try spraying water mainly on the leaves, and you should see your polka dot plant thriving.
  • Humidifiers add humidity without the hassle. If you don’t want to bother tending to your plant more than needed or are worried about getting the humidity right, use an electric humidifier to do it for you.
  • Placing your plants in water increases humidity directly next to them. Use large pebbles to lift the pots above the water, or place a bowl of water nearby for the same results. Make sure you change the water frequently to keep it clean.
  • Keeping plants close to each other helps create a humid environment. Plants give off water into the atmosphere via transpiration, so keeping many plants near each other helps keep the humidity levels high enough for your polka dots to thrive.

Check: Overwatered Polka Dot Plant

Adjusting Your Polka Plant’s Sunlight

Sunlight can quickly cause browning in your polka dot plant’s leaves. Generally, the plant can’t handle too much direct sunlight, but it still needs a lot of bright light to thrive. That is why experts advise keeping polka dot plants in a sunny spot with lots of indirect sunlight.

If you’re keeping the plant indoors, it’s best to keep it near an east-facing window. Don’t have any? No worries, just place the plant away from the window or ensure that your blinds or curtains obstruct sunlight.

Adjusting Temperatures To Suit Your Polka Plant

Lastly, you might need to consider moving your plant indoors if the temperature is too warm. While the polka dot plant did originate in Madagascar’s warm, humid climate, it’s not likely to survive the heat strokes of New Mexico.

Moving your polka dot plant indoors usually fixes this problem of warm temperatures. However, this only makes sense if the temperature inside your home is a little cooler. This remedy doesn’t mean keeping your plants under the air conditioning. In other words, keep your polka dot plant at 68 – 70 degrees Fahrenheit (20 – 21.11 °C).

How To Know When To Give Up on Your Polka Plant

Even though most plants will survive dehydration for a while, there comes the point when the leaves are too brown, and there is no way to salvage the plant. If all the leaves have fallen off but the stems are still green, there is hope that new leaves will grow.

Of course, if the root structures are not intact, then the only solution is propagating from a stem cutting.

If you’ve neglected your polka dot plant for too long and there are no green parts on the plant at all, it may be challenging to revive the plant. At that point, there’s little to nothing left to salvage.

Final Thoughts

Brown spots on your polka dot plant leaves signify dehydration or worse. Making a few adjustments to how you care for your plant can be easy to revive and help return its colorful leaves. Ensure you inspect the leaves thoroughly and regularly to catch any problems as early as possible.

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