Why does my Dragon Tree have brown leaves? Causes and How to Fix it!

These sturdy and relatively low maintenance plants still come with their own issues. Brown leaves being one of the most common for Dragon Trees.

Dragon Tree plants aren’t the most difficult houseplant to take care of, but they sure do still have their issues. It often occurs that your Dragon Tree develops brown leaf tips or even brown leaves throughout the plant. This is a sign that something isn’t quite right so look through all of the causes below and hopefully this will help you diagnose and fix the problem.

Brown Dragon Tree leaves can indicate cold temperatures

Dragon Trees don’t like cold air and will struggle if exposed to temperatures below 64 degrees Fahrenheit (18 degrees Celsius) for long periods of time. Of course, your home will always drop below this during winter and at night but try and keep this to a minimum.

Drafts that come through cracks in windows or doors can be the most harmful to your Dragon Tree and will cause brown leaves among other issues such as leaves falling off. This is because you may not realise the temperature is so low in that small spot because the average room temp is normal. Make sure to draft-proof any windows or doors that are within 1 metre of your Dragon Tree or any other houseplants.

We also recommend getting a thermometer to measure how the temperature changes throughout the day and across the year.

Water sensitivity can lead to brown leaf tips

Another common cause of brown leaf tips on Dragon Tree plants is too much fluoride. Dragon Trees are particularly sensitive to fluoride compared to most other houseplants so it is an important one to look out for. If you live in a hard water area, your plant may be suffering from a flouride build up in the soil. This is where the minerals suffocate the roots over time which stops them getting the right nutrients from the soil. It can also be caused by an excess of perlite in the soil or from phosphate-rich fertiliser. Check the soil and fertiliser and replace if necessary.

If you are worried that hard water is the cause then there are a few free and easy ways you can fix it. Firstly, collecting rainwater to give to your plants as it contains a lot fewer chemicals than the treated water out of your tap. Secondly, you can leave a jug of water out overnight and let the fluoride and chlorine evaporate.

Lack of humidity can harm your Dragon Tree

Dry air might also be the cause of your Dragon Tree’s brown leaves. It usually starts at the tips and works its way up the leaf. Although the current brown tips are irreversible, there are quite a few simple ways to up the humidity to stop any more from occurring.

Misting the leaves

This is our top method to increase the humidity for your Dragon Tree. Mist the leaves using a spray bottle 3-4 times a week. Not only will this increase the humidity but it will also get rid of any dust that has formed on the leaves. We recommend misting in the mornings as it leaves enough time for the water droplets to evaporate before it gets cold during the night. Cold damp leaves are more susceptible to root rot so you want to be careful here.

Put your Dragon Tree in the shower to avoid brown leaves

By rinsing down your plant you can instantly increase the humidity. Put your plant in the bath or sink and wash down the leaves. Use lukewarm water at low pressure so you don’t damage, shock or burn the plant.

Use a pebble tray

This one requires a little bit of DIY. Fill up a tray with small pebbles and add water so it reaches about halfway up the tray. Place your Dragon Tree on top and throughout the day the water will evaporate around the plant. You need to make sure that the roots of your plant are not touching the water (which is why we say to fill up the tray halfway). If the roots are sitting in the water then it will very quickly lead to root rot and a whole range more problems!

Invest in a humidifier

These portable and affordable gadgets are a real game-changer when it comes to increasing the humidity for your plants and your Dragon Tree will love you for it.

We recommend this humidifier from Amazon. We’ve been using it for years and our plants really love it!

Now that you’ve hopefully diagnosed the issue with your Dragon Tree you might be wondering what to do about the brown leaves that are already there. Unfortunately, once a leaf has turned brown, there is no reversing that. This is why we often recommend removing the leaves that have turned a solid brown colour. 

If only the edges of the leaves have turned brown, then it can be a good idea to leave these as they aren’t all dead and can still be valuable to your Dragon Tree. However, any leaves that are fully brown and have crisped up should be removed. This will stop your plant from wasting energy trying to revive them. Instead, it allows your Dragon Tree to focus all of its energy on new healthy growth. 

When removing the leaves, make sure to trim them off using sharp tools. Never rip or pull the leaves off by hand as this can damage the stems and other parts of the plant that might be otherwise healthy. 

More often than not, brown leaves on your Dragon Tree are a sign that your plant is starting to die. This can be caused by a whole range of issues that this article discusses. It’s important to act as quickly as possible to find out what is causing your Dragon Tree to develop brown leaves as the sooner you start fixing the issue, the more chance you have at bringing your plant back to full health. 

If you accidentally overwater your Dragon Tree then it can start to develop brown leaves. You’ll also notice that the plant starts to feel quite soft and limp compared to normal. This is because the root system has started to rot in the waterlogged soil. 

The key to preventing your Dragon Tree from developing brown leaves is to make sure that it is growing in the ideal environment. You need to make sure that environmental factors such as sunlight, warmth and humidity are right for your plant, as well as balancing watering so that your Dragon Tree is getting what it needs. Check out our Dragon Tree care guide for more info on how to keep your plant thriving!

Unfortunately, once the leaves on your Dragon Tree have turned brown, there is no reversing this as that part of the leaf has died. 

Those are the most common reasons why your Dragon Tree plant has developed brown leaves or brown leaf tips. Hopefully, if you have caught the problem early you should be able to fix it pretty easily and your plant will be producing new healthy growth in no time. If you want to find out more about how to care for your plant then visit our Dragon Tree care guide for everything you need to know to keep your plant happy AND healthy!

Written by Joanna Turner


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