People buy prayer plants because they want them to serve as indoor decorations. However, a common problem that most, if not all, plant owners face is when their foliage turns brown.
Instead of becoming eye-catching pieces, they ruin your home’s aesthetic. And it makes you wonder: why are my prayer plant leaves turning brown?
Well, there’s a plethora of reasons why this happens—your plant might have dry soil, you’re using poor-quality water, or it’s not receiving enough sunlight.
Stick around to learn more about what’s causing your prayer plant leaves to turn brown!
If your prayer plant is getting brown tips, the first three things you should inspect are the soil, moisture content, and watering habits.
Abnormalities in these factors can definitely make your prayer plant’s foliage turn brown. Here’s why:
Like other plants, prayer plants need humidity too. In fact, lack of moisture is the primary cause of why the foliage’s tips turn brown.
Humidity has an essential role in your prayer plant’s growth and development. It makes photosynthesis possible.
So, if there’s too much moisture in the air, your prayer plants can’t get rid of the water vapor. As a result, it temporarily stunts their growth because their roots can no longer absorb new nutrients.
Plus, high humidity makes your prayer plants transpire even more. That said, they lose more water in their bodies, making the tips of their foliage turn brown.
As such, you should constantly check the humidity in the area where you’ve placed your prayer plant. Ideally, the level should be 50 to 60%.
Inconsistent watering is another reason why the tip of your prayer plants’ leaves turn brown.
If you don’t have a proper watering schedule, your plants will likely become under or overwatered.
Underwatering makes the tips of the leaves turn brown because there’s not enough water to replace the liquid they lose through their tissues.
Overwatering, on the other hand, results in the same situation because it limits the oxygen supply of the plants.
With that said, you should set a proper schedule for watering your prayer plants. Doing so ensures that they’ll get enough water for photosynthesis.
Salt and other minerals cause severe damage to your prayer plant, especially when there’s a buildup in the soil.
This situation often happens when you water the plants using unfiltered water. The thing is, there are high concentrations of minerals dissolved in that liquid.
So, if you happen to water your plants using said water, you’re basically exposing them to chlorine and sodium. As such, your prayer plant absorbs them instead of the nutrients they need, such as phosphorus and potassium.
Of course, that leads to the browning of the tips of your prayer plants.
A fantastic way to determine if the water you’re using has high concentrations of minerals is to look at the soil. If a white crust forms at the sides or the top, then you shouldn’t use it because it’s harmful to your plants.
Aside from the tips’ browning, prayer plants’ entire foliage can also turn brown. Below are the possible reasons:
Prayer plants, despite loving warm environments, only need indirect sunlight. So, if they get exposed to direct light, it can make their leaves turn brown.
The reason for this is that the heat breaks down the chlorophyll present in the leaves. Of course, the lack of pigment changes the color of the foliage.
It often presents itself in the form of a leaf scorch or sunburn too.
Moreover, overexposure to sunlight dries up the prayer plants’ soils faster. Therefore, they transpire more quickly, losing lots of water stored in their bodies.
When your prayer plants run out of water, they’ll likely become prone to sunburn.
A mistake most people make is letting the soil become too dry before watering them. Unfortunately, prayer plants detest dry conditions.
If there isn’t enough water for the plant, it’ll significantly affect their overall health. As mentioned earlier, they need liquid for photosynthesis to take place.
Without it, they’ll not grow. On top of that, the plants will become too dehydrated to the extent that their leaves will turn brown and become brittle.
In addition, dehydrated prayer plants are at risk of completely dying.
Your water source can also be a reason why your prayer plant’s leaves are turning brown.
Chlorine, fluoride, and other chemicals are present in tap water. So, if you’re using that to water your plants, then you’re basically feeding them harsh toxins.
Fluoride, for example, stops the photosynthesis process of your prayer plant. When absorbed, it moves in the transpiration stream through the stomata.
It then accumulates in the leaf tips or margins of the prayer plant. When enough fluoride build-up has occurred, it’ll become an injury—this is when the foliage will start turning brown.
Aside from the sudden change in the foliage’s color, the leaves will also become extremely dry and brittle.
Root rot is one of the more severe reasons your prayer plant’s leaves turn brown or yellow.
Said plant disease occurs because of poor drainage, soil fungi, or overwatering. When there’s too much water in the substrate, the roots can no longer absorb the oxygen they need in order to survive.
Moreover, soil fungi invade the roots of the prayer plant, stunting their growth. In the worst cases, it can lead to their death.
Of course, if the roots are incapable of absorbing the necessary nutrients, it’ll make the plant limp and droopy. In addition, the foliage will curl and turn brown.
If there are brown spots at the center of your prayer plant’s leaves, it might be because of pest infestation.
Aphids, for example, are one of the most common plant pests. These soft-bodied insects use their mouth to feed on sap.
In addition, they usually appear in massive colonies at the prayer plant’s foliage underside. When the leaves become heavily infested, they’ll start turning brown and wilt.
Mealy bugs are another example. Their behavior is similar to aphids because they suck the plant’s sap.
If you leave the infestation untreated for a long time, it’ll result in the curling and browning of the leaves. Additionally, your plant will become limp.
Keeping prayer plants in an area that doesn’t receive enough sunlight will make their leaves turn brown.
This phenomenon happens because the plants don’t produce chlorophyll or the pigment that makes the foliage turn green.
Naturally, a lack of pigment will definitely make the leaves turn a different color. At first, the foliage will have a pale green shade, eventually becoming yellow or brown as time progresses.
A great way to know if your prayer plants aren’t receiving enough sunlight is by looking into the direction of their growth.
If they’re trying to grow in the direction of a window or any light source, then it only means they need more sun exposure.
Yes. You can cut the brown tips of your prayer plant if you think that it’s necessary to do so.
In fact, most people prune the leaves that are turning brown because it keeps the plant healthy. Plus, it also encourages new growth.
That said, if you want to prune your prayer plants, here’s how:
Before pruning, you should take your pruning shears or scissors and sterilize them using rubbing alcohol or diluted bleach.
Ensure that the tool you’re using is sharp enough because if it’s dull, it can crush the stems of the prayer plants.
Afterward, cut away as much of the tips of the leaves or stems as possible without damaging the healthy parts.
Remember to disinfect the pruning shears with every cut to prevent the spread of bacteria.
That said, if the foliage has completely dried or turned brown, gently pull them off with your hands instead.
Below are a few methods you can try to prevent the tips or the entire foliage of your prayer plant from turning brown:
If your prayer plant’s soil has mineral buildup or it can no longer absorb water because of how dry it is, you should replace it immediately.
Ideally, use an airy yet well-draining potting mix. In fact, you can create one by combining loam soil, coarse sand, perlite, and peat moss.
However, don’t use too much perlite and peat moss because they have fluoride. As mentioned earlier, said mineral harms prayer plants when given in high amounts.
On top of that, ensure that the pot you’re using has an excellent draining system to prevent root rot.
Prayer plants need lots of humidity for them to thrive. As such, you should keep them in an area with lots of moisture, like a bathroom.
In case you only want to keep your prayer plants in a designated area in your house, but the humidity level constantly fluctuates, you should invest in a humidifier.
Humidifiers are a fantastic tool that helps speed up the natural evaporation process. So, the appliance will constantly supply moisture to your home.
In case you can’t afford a humidifier, you can opt for a more natural method, like grouping houseplants. Transpiration gives off humidity, so the moisture level in the area where you keep them will significantly increase.
Pests often go unnoticed, especially if you don’t regularly inspect the leaves of your prayer plants.
With that said, you should constantly inspect your plants for pest infestation or diseases to prevent the foliage from turning brown.
Treat your plants immediately with pesticides or insecticidal soap if your plants have pests. If the damage is severe, cut the affected area using pruning shears.
If the tap water in your area has lots of dissolved minerals, improving the water quality is the only way to solve this dilemma.
You can install a rain barrel in your home because rainwater doesn’t have high concentrations of minerals.
Alternatively, you can use store-bought spring water if it doesn’t rain in your area often.
Now, if you’re still wondering: why are my prayer plant leaves turning brown? There are a bunch of factors that you should check to come up with the final answer.
Start with the soil. If it’s too dry to the extent that it can no longer absorb water, that might be the problem.
On the other hand, if the soil is too moist, your prayer plant is probably overwatered.
Alternatively, you can check the humidity in the area where you keep your prayer plant. If it’s too low, then it’s causing the problem.
Lastly, you should inspect the water you’re using. Watering ultra-hard tap water will only harm your prayer plant.
Growing up with a mom who filled her home (inside and out) with all sorts of plants, Lisa got her start in gardening at a young age. Living now on her own with a home and yard full of plants (including an indoor greenhouse), she shares all the gardening tips she’s gained over the years.