As a plant enthusiast, I’ve always been drawn to the beauty and unique appearance of the Dracaena plant. However, a common issue that I and many other Dracaena owners have encountered is the browning of the plant’s leaf tips (as you can see below).
In my experience, browning tips on a dracaena are usually caused by a lack of humidity or an issue with watering. It can also be caused by sun scorch, as well as several other factors.
In this guide I’ll walk you through 8 reasons why your dracaena leaves might be turning brown, and what you can do about it.
8 Reasons For Dracaena Leaf Tips Turning Brown
Here are 8 reasons why your dracaena leaves might be turning brown from my experience of keeping dracaenas for several years.
In my experience, underwatering is a common reason for brown tips in dracaena plants.
Dracaenas, like most houseplants, prefer consistently moist – but not soggy – soil.
I typically water my dracaena when the top few inches of soil feel dry to the touch. It’s essential to use a well-draining potting mix and consider adding perlite or sand if you want to make it drain better.
2. Low Humidity
Dracaenas are tropical plants, and I’ve observed that they thrive under high humidity levels.
Dry air or low humidity, especially during winter, can cause the leaf tips to turn brown as they lose moisture in the dry air.
The easiest way to boost humidity is to simply place your dracaena next to another plant. This will create a mini-climate where the local humidity is increased due to the transpiration of both plants.
3. Lack Of Nutrients
Like all houseplants, dracaena plants need nutrients to grow. Lack of nutrients, especially nitrogen, can lead to browning leaf tips.
Over time, I’ve noticed that using a diluted, balanced houseplant fertilizer helps maintain healthy growth. I usually fertilize my dracaena every 6-8 weeks during spring and summer.
In the wintertime, I personally don’t fertilize my dracaena at all.
Multiple pests can infest dracaena plants, such as spider mites, mealybugs, and scale insects. These pests can cause leaf damage and discoloration, resulting in brown tips.
I routinely inspect my dracaena for any signs of pest infestation and use appropriate pesticide treatments, such as insecticidal soap, to eliminate them.
Fungal diseases, like leaf spot, can sometimes affect dracaena plants. In my experience, the disease usually shows up as browning leaf tips or yellowing leaves.
Fungal diseases are relatively easy to prevent, you just need to make sure you don’t mist your dracaena and provide good circulation around the plant.
Overwatering is harmful to dracaena plants since it can lead to brown tips and ultimately cause root rot, which can be very difficult to fix.
As before, you should only water when the top few inches of soil are dry, and make sure your soil drains well. Drainage holes are also crucial to allow excess water to flow out.
7. Sun Scorch
Though dracaena plants can tolerate bright sunlight, excessive exposure can cause sun scorch. This, in turn, can result in brown or yellow leaf tips.
I keep my dracaena marginata out of direct sunlight but with access to plenty of indirect sunlight and I’ve had no issues with sun scorch.
This one might sound a bit odd at first, but it does make sense, especially if your dracaena is placed close to a door or a sofa.
Friction from contact, such as brushing past your dracaena as you walk past or even from a door, can damage the tips quite easily.
I’m pretty sure this is the cause of at least some of the brown tips on my dracaena as it is next to my sofa.
Does This Mean My Dracaena Is Dying?
In my experience, observing browning tips on a Dracaena plant doesn’t necessarily mean it’s dying. – it is usually just a problem with basic care.
Here’s a quick summary of all the care requirements that you can quickly read through to compare to the care that you are currently providing.
- Watering – I’ll ensure that I’m giving the right amount of water and allowing the soil to dry slightly between waterings. (Ensure that the top few inches of soil are dry before watering)
- Humidity – Consider placing your dracaena next to another plant to increase the local humidity.
- Light exposure – Avoid direct sunlight and choose an area with plenty of bright, indirect sunlight.
- Temperature – I strive to maintain a consistent temperature between 65-85°F (18-29°C). If the temperature falls below this range don’t worry, you will just need to water less often and expect less growth.
- Fertilization – Applying a balanced houseplant fertilizer every 6-8 weeks helps provide essential nutrients. I personally don’t fertilize during the winter.
What To Do If Your Dracaena Tips Have Turned Brown
The first thing to do is to not worry – this is of course easier than it sounds but more often than not brown tips are not a big problem.
Check through the bullet point list above and compare this to the current care you are providing. Consider investing in a digital thermometer and hygrometer to accurately check the temperature and humidity as these can be difficult to estimate.
Once you’ve made sure you are caring for your dracaena properly all that’s left to do is trim the leaves with brown tips.
You can leave them, but I usually remove them simply because I’m not a big fan of how they look. It’s really up to you.
If your dracaena has started to get some brown tips try not to stress about it!
It’s a lot more common than you would think, and even if you get all of the care absolutely perfect there’s still a good chance that some leaves will have brown tips anyway from things like old age or friction from being touched.
Check out some of my other dracaena articles below: