Why does my Yucca have brown leaf tips? And how to fix them!

Last Updated: May 17, 2022

Long leafed plants such as Yuccas, Spider Plants and Snake Plants are all very prone to dry brown leaf tips. There are quite a few causes and it can be really difficult to diagnose why it is happening. But we have gathered all the most common reasons into this post so you can hopefully crack down on those dry leaf tips!!

Underwatering causes brown Yucca leaves

If your Yucca has developed dry, crispy brown leaves it is often due to a lack of water. Although Yuccas don’t like frequent watering and hate sitting in puddles of excess water, this doesn’t mean that they can survive for long periods of time with really dry soil. If you think you may have underwatered your Yucca take it out of the pot and see how dry the soil is.

It is important to inspect the health of the root system at this stage as well to see if there is any damage. Trim away any of the dead roots so your Yucca can start to grow healthier ones.

Your first instinct for an underwatered Yucca might be to give it lots of water to make up for the lack of it. But this will actually just cause further issues. You want to gradually reintroduce watering in small amounts to prevent any shock (yes plants get shocked by a change of environment too!) Water your plant a little every day for a few days and then space your watering out to once a fortnight during the growing season and once a month over winter.

If you’re worried that you’re not being too consistent with your watering, or just want the piece of mind of knowing you’re doing the right thing, it could be worth investing in a moisture meter. These handy little things are pretty cheap and remove all of the guess work, this is our favourite one from Amazon and it does a great job of keeping our plants happy!

Dry air could be the problem

Yuccas like medium levels of humidity and will struggle to thrive in homes with dry air. A consistent lack of humidity will cause the leaves to dry up a little which shows in the form of brown leaf tips. This can start to happen a lot more during winter as central heating and a lack of ventilation causes very dry air.

If it is only the leaf tips that are brown then you should have caught the problem fairly early on. Over time the dry air may cause the larger brown patches across the leaves. Checking the humidity level couldn’t be easier too, you just need to get yourself a handy little humidity monitor and you’ll be up and running in no time!

Luckily we have some really easy methods that will help you increase the humidity for your Yucca:

  • Misting the leaves

    One of the simplest ways to increase the humidity for your Yucca is to mist the leaves with a spray bottle a couple of times a week. We always recommend doing this in the mid-morning as you want to leave enough time for the water to evaporate off. If the leaves are wet overnight when it is cooler it can often lead to leaf rot. These are our favourite spray bottles, plus they look great!

  • Use a Pebble tray

    Place your Yucca over a tray of small pebbles. Fill up the tray so the water reaches half way up the pebbles. This stops your plant sitting in the water and causing the roots to rot. The water in the tray will slowly evaporate, lifting up the humidity level.

  • Give your Yucca a shower

    To quickly raise the humidity and wash down your plant of any long-standing dust, you can always give them a quick shower. Simply pop them in the shower and wash them down with lukewarm water, this will clean off the leaves and give the soil a good soaking. You don’t need to worry too much about keeping the water pressure low as Yuccas are quite sturdy and you shouldn’t cause too much damage to the leaves.

  • Move your Yucca plant

    If you’re lucky enough to have great lighting in your bathroom or kitchen we recommend moving your Yucca in there. The steam generated by showers and cooking means these rooms always have a naturally higher humidity level than other areas of our home.

  • Invest in a humidifier

    Getting yourself a humidifier is the long term solution and probably the most reliable way to increase the humidity level in your home. They are affordable devices which evaporate water into the air. You can also get ones that you can program to run on a schedule or automatically turn on and off to maintain a certain humidity level. Our favourite humidifier is this one from Amazon; it’s affordable, works really well and looks great too!

    Want to know more about how to raise the humidity for your Yucca and other houseplants? We have written a whole guide on this.

Flouride toxicity could be the problem for your Yucca

Yuccas are sometimes a little sensitive to the fluoride that is in tap water. If you live in a hard water area this can be a problem over time as it can be damaging for the root system.

If you don’t want to invest in a water purifying system (we don’t blame you) then there are two free ways you can solve this problem.

  1. Wait for 24 hours

    If you leave your watering can full of water out for a full day then most of the chemicals should evaporate leaving your tap water pure.

  2. Rainwater

    Another method is to collect rainwater as the chemicals are much lower than the treated water that comes out of your tap.

Overfertilisation is a cause of brown leaves!

Another cause of brown leaf tips on a Yucca plant is over fertilisation. Yuccas really don’t need to be fertilised often. We recommend fertilising using a water-soluble fertiliser at lower than recommended strength every 2-3 months during spring and summer and not at all during the colder winter months. This is because your Yucca will go dormant and not produce any new growth.

If you are fertilising your Yucca more often than this, then it may be the cause of the brown leaf tips. You can actually even skip the fertiliser all together if you prefer. We don’t tend to do it for our Yuccas as they grow very slowly anyway.

These are the main reasons why your Yucca may have developed brown leaf tips. Unfortunately, once the leaf has turned brown there is no reversing that so just focus on fixing the problem so the new growth is healthy and green.

You can find out more about Yucca care in our plant specific guide or in our How to Care for your Houseplants downloadable ebook.

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