How To Stop Calathea Leaves Turning Brown And Crispy


This is the most common complaint that new and experiences growers have, calathea leaves turning brown and crispy. Calatheas are such beautiful plants and there is many varieties, that is what makes them so popular as houseplants. However they are incredibly susceptible to browning and crispy edges, part of me knows this is because they are tropical plants and kept in non-tropical environments but at the same time part of me also feels like they only turn brown and crispy because they are major drama queens!

To stop calathea leaves turning brown you need to make sure that the growing conditions match its tropical nature. This means high humidity, warm temperatures, quality water and without dry soil. You need to do your best to mimic these condition for you calathea to be happy and full.

Why do calathea leaves turn brown and crispy?

As mentioned above, calatheas are tropical plants and if you don’t live in a tropical rainforest, chances are that your home doesn’t have completely ideal growing conditions for them. In most cases humidity is the main reason as to why leaves turn brown and crispy, when the air is dry the leaves lose moisture, colour and shape.
Cold temperatures and draughts can also hurt your calathea. They are use to a warm climate. Leaves will curl if the air is cold and they can become dry from the excessive air flow.
Watering can also be the cause of brown and crispy calathea leaves. Tropical plants aren’t used to dry soil. So if you leave them to dry out too much, similarly to the humidity issue, it will cause the leaves to turn bad. The other issue that can come about from watering is if the water quality isn’t great. Often tap water can be high in  salts, chlorine, minerals and fluoride – all of which can build up in the soil of your plant causing the tips of the leaves to burn, turn brown, and curl up. 
Sunburn will also cause brown and crispy leaves and calatheas can burn easily, especially if they are places in bright direct light.

Increasing humidity to stop calathea leaves from going brown and crispy

You can implement a range of tactics to increase the humidity around your calatheas, these can include misting, pebble trays, crowding and using a humidifier. Whilst they are tropical plants, you wont need your house to feel like a sauna to give them the humidity they need. Most plants you find will have been bred to handle lower humidity but not incredibly low. To make sure that there is enough humidity you can simply use a fine mist on your plants every day or two or start running a humidifier.

For a more comprehensive guide on how to increase humidity for your plants, check out this article.

Increasing temperature to stop calathea leaves from going brown and crispy

Well this one is pretty self explanatory, if it is too cold for your caatheas, warm it up! They prefer a temperature range between 65-80 degrees Fahrenheit or 18-27 degrees Celsius.

Watering better to stop calathea leaves from going brown and crispy

Calatheas don’t like having dry soil, so leaving it too long between waterings could be the reason why its leaves are curling up and becoming crispy. It is important to water your calathea at least once a week to ensure it is hydrated and happy. But it isn’t just the frequency of watering which can be the issue, the water quality also plays a major part. There are several salts and minerals in regular tap water, this can build up around your calathea and cause damage or blockages to the roots which will dehydrate your plant. You can combat this by using filtered water, rain water or distilled water. Another trick you can use is to leave your water in an open container or sink overnight before using can help relieve some of the chlorine.

For a more comprehensive guide on how to water your plants correctly and promote strong root growth, check out this article.

Preventing sunburn to stop calathea leaves from going brown and crispy

These plants can get sun damage really easily. This means that if you keep them too close to a window or directly underneath a sky light, they may become sunburnt and dry out. It is important to make sure that your calatheas are only getting indirect light and not bright direct light as this is what can hurt them.

If you want to get a better idea of what a sunburnt plant looks like and how to treat them, check out our article here.

Should you take off brown leaves from your calathea?

Yes, you should. Once they have turned brown they wont return to color, at least the brown part wont. If a major part of the leave is damaged then it is best to get rid of it so your plant can focus on healing elsewhere. It will make the plant grow better, promote new growth and prevent it from looking leggy.

So now you know what caused your calathea to get brown and crispy leaves but more importantly you know how to stop it from happening in the first place! You’ll be able to enjoy your beautiful calatheas with these tips!

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