Why does my African Mask Plant have brown leaves?

Last Updated: April 1, 2022

It can be quite worrying when your African Mask Plant’s leaves start to turn brown. However, if you have caught the problem early then with a few changes to the environment or your care routine, you should be able to solve the problem in no time. Below you will find the most common reasons why African Mask Plant’s leaves turn brown.

Not enough water

If the leaves on your African Mask Plant have turned light brown, dry and crispy, then you may not be watering your plant enough. Although African Mask plants don’t like sitting in puddles of water, they do like some moisture in the soil. Consistent underwatering will cause them to develop brown leaves.

Before you go and drown your plant in water, you need to make sure that this is actually the issue. Carefully take your African Mask Plant out of the pot to inspect the soil. If it is very dry and powdery then your plant will need more water.

Slowly reintroduce water to your plant over the course of a week, rather than drowning it straight away. A sudden change in environment can shock your African Mask Plant and cause more problems than brown leaves.

Too much water

As with underwatering, overwatering can also cause a whole range of issues for your African Mask Plant, including brown leaves. However, the appearance and feel of the leaf will be different from overwatering. The leaves will turn yellow and darker brown and look and feel a little softer, rather than dry and crispy.

Again you want to inspect the soil first before you make any changes to your care routine. If the soil is soggy then there is too much moisture. Over time, this can cause the roots to rot and the plant is unable to take up the water and nutrients it needs to thrive.

We always recommend replacing the soil as soon as you notice this issue. You want to prevent any further damage to the root system. Trim away any dead roots and leaves to encourage your plant to focus on new healthy growth. After a few weeks, you should start to see your plant look a little healthier. It can take a while if the root system has been quite severely damaged but be patient and with the right care, your plant should bounce back.

Make sure to adjust your care in the long term to avoid the problem happening again. Regularly check the moisture in the soil before watering and monitor how this changes throughout the year.

Lack of humidity

If the edges and leaf tips of your African Mask Plant are turning brown, then dry air may be the culprit. They are tropical plants so thrive in humid environments. During winter, our homes can be especially dry as the heating is on and the windows are closed so it’s something we need to more conscious of during that time. Although we could never reach tropical levels of humidity in our home, there are a few things we can do to help raise the humidity and stop the brown leaf tips.


Mist the leaves

This is a great habit to get into to for a lot of your plants as it is great for their overall health as well as for the humidity level. Mist the leaves using a spray bottle a few times a week. Never mist in the evening as the cold air at night will mean the leaves are a lot more likely to rot if damp.

Misting is also a great way to get rid of dust which is a problem for African Mask Plants. Their large sturdy leaves are a dust magnet and it can prevent the plant getting all of the sunlight which reduces the levels of photosynthesis.

Shower your plant

A really easy way to boost the humidity is giving your plant a shower. It is also a good way to get rid of any pests that may be secretly living on your plant. Pop your African Mask Plant in the shower and wash down the leaves.

Here are a few things to look out for when showering your plant

  • Keep the water pressure low to avoid damaging the leaves/ stems
  • The water should be lukewarm so you don’t shock or burn your plant
  • Leave the plant in the shower for 30 minutes after washing to allow for excess water to run off

Pick the right room

Some rooms in your home will have a naturally higher humidity level than others. The kitchen and bathroom are the main ones as steam from showering or cooking will increase the level of water vapour in the air. If you have good lighting in those rooms then move your plant in there if it is suffering from a lack of humidity. This should avoid any further brown leaf tips!

Invest in a humidifier

If you are looking for a more long-term solution for your houseplants then buying a humidifier is the option for you. Some humidifiers even have settings in them that will keep a constant level or turn on and off on a set schedule. They are also thought to help with getting better sleep and clearer skin so it’s not just a good investment for your plants.

This is the humidifier we use from Amazon and our plants love it!


African Mask Plants don’t need a lot of fertiliser to thrive and too much can lead to brown leaves. You want to be fertilising a few times during the growth months of spring and summer and not at all during winter. If you are fertilising more than this then it might be the cause of the brown leaves.

If you fertilise using a water-soluble fertiliser then the solution is simple, just hold off for a few months. If you use slow releasing spikes then remove them from the soil and if the pellets are mixed in with the soil then replace the potting mix with fresh mix.

These are the most common causes of brown leaves on African Mask Plants. If you want to find out more about caring for your plants or other common problems then visit our African Mask Plant care guide.

Fiddle and Thorn is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to Amazon.com

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