Prayer plants are among the most beautiful and intriguing species in the plant kingdom. They react strongly to light—so their leaves spread to the sun during the day and then fold at night.
They are among the pickiest, too, and can throw little tantrums when they’re dissatisfied or there are environmental changes.
Your prayer plant’s leaves will turn brown when it is thirsty, overwatered, or over-fertilized. The discoloration can also be due to low humidity and chemical buildup in its system. It would be best to tweak your care routine to fix the issue, or you may lose your precious plant.
This article will discuss the possible reasons why your prayer plant’s leaves are turning brown and what you can do to stop this from progressing quickly. I will also talk about other telltale signs to watch out for, indicating that your prayer plant may be unhappy in your care. Let’s start!
Your prayer plant will let you know if it’s unhappy and something is amiss. One of the more common ways through which it will get this message across is by turning its beautiful, vibrant leaves to dry, dull brown. The process is gradual, but it will undoubtedly catch your attention.
Here are possible reasons why your prayer plant’s leaves are turning brown:
If your prayer plant’s leaves and stems are turning brown and soft, it could mean that you’re giving it more water than it needs. Start by pruning off unhealthy leaves and stems. Soggy, decaying leaves can attract pests. If the brown spots are only still at the leaf edges, consider trimming off these unattractive areas.
Here are some other things you can do:
Overwatered roots turn mushy and will no longer be able to perform their role as nutrient conveyors for the plant. Snip off decaying roots and give your prayer plant a refreshing start by transferring it into a new pot with fast-draining soil.
Ensure the pot has drainage holes and is just a few inches wider than your plant’s root ball. A bank that is too large for a plant’s root ball will hold in more water than necessary.
Prayer plants generally like moist soil since they originally come from tropical forests with high humidity and frequent rain showers. However, they detest sitting in soggy soil. They will quickly react by showing changes in their stunning foliage.
Use the finger method when determining if your prayer plant already needs water. All you need to do is stick your finger in the soil. You may water your plant if the soil feels dry at least 2-3 inches (5-7 cm) from the top. A moisture meter would be a handy ally as well.
I recommend the XLUX Soil Moisture Meter from Amazon, which is reliable and accurate with an easy-to-read dial. It also requires no batteries, which is a bonus.
Avoid sticking to a strict watering schedule since various factors — such as:
- Type of soil used
- Weather conditions
These factors will affect how quickly the soil dries out. For instance, your plants will tend to dry out faster if you live in sunny areas like Florida or California than in colder regions like Montana or Vermont.
Your prayer plant’s leaves will slowly turn crisp and brown if it isn’t getting enough water. The dryness usually starts at the leaf edges before it slowly creeps toward the center of the leaf. If you don’t act fast, the whole leaf and stem will dry up and die.
Make sure to water your plant as soon as the top layer of soil is dry. Use the finger method or your moisture meter to determine if watering is already necessary.
Remember that they originate from a tropical environment where moisture and humidity abound. Never let your prayer plant’s soil dry up completely.
Developing brown, crispy edges is your prayer plant’s way of telling you there is a lack of humidity around it. Prayer plants love moisture and will quickly show you if there is a lack of it in the air around them.
Those dry, brown leaf tips may not be able to bounce back to their original color anymore, but you can stop the discoloration from spreading to the entire leaf.
Here are some ways to arrest the situation:
- Misting. Lightly spray your prayer plant with fresh, clean water. Do this in the early mornings and again at noontime, so the water particles will have enough time to evaporate and not make the leaves rot.
- Grouping. Grouping your plants will boost your humidity significantly. You can group your moisture-loving plants so it would be easier to provide extra care.
- Pebble tray. Fill a shallow tray with pebbles and pour water over them, but make sure you don’t submerge the tops of the stones in the water. Place your prayer plant on top of the pebble tray to boost humidity levels around your plant.
Tap water is not ideal for prayer plants because it contains chemicals and minerals. These may be safe for humans but can be highly harmful to plants, especially those as sensitive as prayer plants.
Chemical and mineral buildup from tap water can make your prayer plant’s leaves turn brown. Your prayer plant will try to eliminate these harmful additives by expelling them through the leaf tips. If there is too much too often, the leaf tips will burn and turn brown.
Water your prayer plant with rainwater. Collect some inside a clean container each time it rains. Rainwater is best because it contains nitrates—a macro-nutrient that promotes lush foliage.
Watering your prayer plant with rainwater is like applying light fertilizer daily. If this is not feasible all the time, use filtered or distilled water instead.
If tap water is your only option, collect it first in a clean container. Let the water sit inside the uncovered container for at least 24 hours. Doing so will allow the harmful chemicals and minerals to evaporate.
Your prayer plant needs adequate fertilization to thrive. Prayer plants usually boast intriguing and appealing leaf patterns and colors. They need nutrition to sustain such striking foliage. Its leaves turning brown may indicate that you need to up your game to provide it with sufficient minerals and vitamins.
Establish a fertilization schedule depending on the type of fertilizer you’re using. Opt for fertilizers that offer a good balance of nitrogen, phosphorus, and potassium. Your prayer plant will reward you with lusher foliage if you feed it right.
Sometimes we can kill our plants with kindness, and too much of anything can be harmful in excess. Fertilizing your prayer plant too often or intensely will bring about many unpleasant issues. Your plant will react with browning leaves and an overall unhealthy look.
Salt and mineral buildup will be detrimental to your prayer plant’s health. A sign that you may be over-fertilizing your plant is the presence of a whitish substance on the soil’s surface. Excess salt will rob your plant’s roots of the moisture it needs, causing dehydration.
Make it a point to dilute your fertilizer before applying it to your prayer plant. Develop the habit of flushing your plant’s soil every three months to eliminate mineral buildup and salt deposits.
Do this by drenching your plant and soil in fresh, clean water until the excess liquid drains out from the drainage holes. Repeat at least three times.
Your prayer plant will never be able to talk, but it will let you know whenever it is unhappy. As a plant parent, you should be attentive to these signs to arrest issues before they morph into huge problems. Usually, your prayer plant will return to being its beautiful, happy self if you give it what it needs as soon as possible.
Here are more signs that your prayer plant is unhappy:
These signs usually mean that you likely exposed your prayer plant to harsh, direct light for too long. Their leaves are sunlight-sensitive, and prayer plants thrive in low to moderate light.
They can be just as happy on a sunny windowsill or on a shelf inside your bathroom or bedroom where there is only artificial or ambient light.
Move your prayer plant at once to a less sunny location. If you grow lights for your plants— move them further away from the light source. Go ahead and trim off the unsightly brown patches.
You could even cut off entire eaves since they will never regain their original coloring. Take it as a sign that you’ve found the right balance of light and shade for your prayer plant when it uncurls its leaves.
It is usual for your prayer plant to lose its leaves now and then, especially if the leaves are among the older ones. This process is your plant’s way of conserving energy and focusing on giving more nutrients to newer leaves. However, if you notice it’s losing more leaves than usual, it may indicate your plant is unhappy.
Premature falling of leaves usually indicates any of the following:
- Fungal infection. Inspect your plant for signs of fungal infection. Arrest the problem with the help of a vinegar spray, baking soda spray, or neem oil solution.
- Root rot. The roots are essential for your prayer plant to absorb water and nutrients from the soil. If you give your plant more water than it needs, the roots may begin to rot. You can try to revive your plant by snipping off dead roots and repotting it in fast-draining soil.
Prayer plants are famous for their bold colors and intriguing leaf patterns. They are also known as divas in the plant world. They have specific needs and will surely inform you if something is not going their way. Seeing your prayer plant’s leaves turning brown can be pretty alarming.
The good news is that you can quickly arrest the issue by giving your prayer plant precisely what it needs. Remember to observe your plant and get to the bottom of why your plant is reacting this way. Act fast to salvage its gorgeous foliage.
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Hi! I’m Sophia, and I love plants – especially an expert in growing house plants. I stay in Chicago, United States of America, and through my blog and social media platforms, provide tips and tricks on how to grow healthy, vibrant plants indoors. Check out more here.