Brown Xerographica Leaves: Causes and Solutions

Last Updated: February 4, 2022

One of the hundreds of Air Plant types, the Xerographica has found its way to being one of the most popular and searched after varieties. If the dreaded thing has happened and your Xerographica has brown leaves, then this might, unfortunately, be quite an issue for your plant. Whilst some browning can be attributed to the natural life cycle, there are also some more worrying causes of brown leaves and leaf tips which we will go through below.

A lack of moisture can cause brown leaves for Xerographica’s

If your Xerographica’s leaves have become quite shrivelled and curled as well as brown then it may be because they aren’t receiving enough moisture. As Xerographica plants don’t grow like most other houseplants, in a pot full of soil that you water, you need to make sure that you are still giving your plant enough moisture. They need regular misting and bathing, especially during summer to prevent brown leaves. 

If you haven’t been misting or bathing your Xerographica very often, then your first instinct might be to give it loads of water straight away. However, this can actually be harmful to your plant (yes, plants can get shocked too). So instead you want to reintroduce moisture slowly by misting daily and giving short baths.

Leaf rot shows up as brown patches

Too much moisture can also cause problems for your Xerographica as if the leaves are quite wet whilst your plant is exposed to cold temperatures, then this can cause the leaves to rot and turn brown. 

This will usually show up as brown spots and patches across the leaves, which are soft to touch and fall off the plant pretty easily.

If you have been giving your Xerographica too much water, then this is a little harder to rectify because there is no soil to replace which would be the natural step for most other plants. Instead, remove the worst affected areas of the plant and hold off misting or bathing for a few days. Going forward, ensure that you aren’t giving your plant too much water and that it isn’t exposed to cold temperatures that might exacerbate the problem.

Fertiliser burn can also cause brown leaf tips

Most generic plant foods and fertilisers will recommend a dosage for your plants, but it’s often far too much for a Xerographica and can result in brown leaves. They will usually turn brown from the tips and edges inwards. 

There are a few things you can do here to prevent the problem from causing more brown leaves. Firstly, hold off fertilizing altogether or you can dilute the fertiliser more than you were doing before so that it’s a lot weaker. Your other option is buying a fertiliser specifically for Air Plants but this can be harder to find.

Chemical sensitivity

Another cause of brown leaf tips on Xerographica plants is fluoride sensitivity. If you live in a hard water area, the chlorine and fluoride in the tap water can cause brown tips. This is because over time the chemicals will build up on the leaves and prevent your plant from photosynthesising properly. Luckily, there are a few ways to stop this happening that don’t involve investing in a really expensive water purification system for your home.

Firstly, you can collect rainwater and mist/bathe your Xerographica with that as the levels of fluoride and other chemicals will be much lower than the treated water out of your tap. Secondly, you can leave a watering can full of water out for around 24 hours. Over that time a lot of the chemicals will evaporate from the water and it is safer to use. 

This isn’t an instant fix and there may be a few brown leaf tips that develop every now and again but it should stop the problem from developing rapidly.

It may just be the natural Xerographica life cycle

If none of the factors we mentioned above really fit with what is going on with your Xerographica then it might just be part of the natural cycle. Sometimes, when a Xerographica plant turns brown and crispy it actually means the plant is dying. If there are pups on your Xerographica that are at the point where they could be propagated, then the mother plant will dry up and die. This is normal and is how Xerographica plants reproduce. It’s not because of any wrongdoing so all you need to do here is propagate the pups and nurture these.

Those are the main reasons why a Xerographica plant has developed brown leaves. It’s important that you first establish whether or not this is part of the natural Air Plant life cycle as you don’t want to be changing anything about the care or your plant’s environment if it’s not needed. Then the next thing we always recommend ruling out is any issues with watering as this can be a very quick killer of Xerographica plants as they need such unique care, unlike anything we are used to with other houseplants. 

To learn more about your plant’s needs, check out our Xerographica care guide.

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