What Causes The Tips Of The Leaves On My Madagascar Dragon Tree To Turn Brown?

Madagascar Dragon Trees make great houseplants, partly because they flourish indoors, and because they require little upkeep. But, as any gardener knows, even the easiest plants are picky about certain things. In this article, we’ll explore what can cause your dragon tree’s leaves to brown at the tips, and how to fix it. So what causes leaves on my Madagascar dragon tree to turn brown?

Why Are My Dragon Tree Leaf Tips Turning Brown?

Why is my dragon tree leaves tips turning brown

Sometimes it can be difficult to figure out what’s wrong with unhappy plants since many symptoms of different issues overlap. The best way to diagnose the problem is to consider all of the possible causes.

Here are some common causes of brown leaf tips on dragon trees:

Low Humidity

Dragon trees, or Dracaena marginata, are native to the tropical climates of Madagascar. Many tropical houseplants require a certain degree of moisture and humidity to thrive.

If the tips of the leaves are brown and feel dry to the touch, your plant might need some extra humidity. Fortunately, there are several ways to increase the humidity of the space around your dragon tree. 

Placing a humidifier nearby will give the area a great boost of moisture.

Another solution is to put a pebble tray underneath the plant. To do this, just fill a plastic tray with pebbles or small stones, and fill the tray halfway with water. Then, put your plant on top of the tray. 

Make sure the water level in the tray does not reach the bottom of the plant. Dragon trees do not like sitting in water.

If you have several moisture-loving plants, try placing them close to each other. The plants will release moisture through their leaves and create a humid microclimate. 


Dragon trees are fairly drought-tolerant. However, this doesn’t mean they enjoy being in completely dry soil.

When these plants aren’t receiving enough water, they’ll usually let you know with browning leaf tips.

Check the soil by sticking your finger in it. If the top two inches of soil are totally dry, it’s time to water. Depending on the environment it’s in, you will likely need to water your plant once every 2-3 weeks.

When you water your dragon tree, water deeply until the water flows out of the drainage holes in the pot. 

Too Much Light

Browning leaf tips can also be a sign that your dragon tree is getting too much sunlight. These plants should never be left in direct sunlight.

Madagascar dragon trees enjoy rooms with bright, indirect light. If you have space near a north-facing window, your tree should do well there. 

If you only have a southern window for your dragon tree, adding a sheer curtain can provide a good filter so that the leaves won’t get scorched.

Old Leaves

Many new dragon tree owners are alarmed when they see the tips of leaves turning brown, and then eventually falling off of the plant. But this is completely normal and natural for dragon trees.

You’ll notice old leaves dying and falling off of the tree occasionally. It’s only a cause for concern if the leaf loss is excessive. 

Should I Cut the Brown Tips Off of My Dragon Tree?

Should I cut the brown tips off my dragon tree

When the tips of your plant start to turn brown, that section of the leaf will never be green again. Since that area is dead, it no longer serves a purpose for the plant.

If you don’t like how it looks, cut the tips of the leaves with scissors or garden shears, following the natural shape of the leaves. Try not to cut into the green tissue, and instead only cut the brown tip. 

You might have to leave a tiny bit of brown at the tip to avoid damaging healthy tissue. Otherwise, the green end of the leaf will also turn brown. 

If you don’t mind how the brown tips look, you can wait until the leaves are naturally replaced by new growth. 

For a visual demonstration of how to revive your dragon tree, check out this video:

What Causes Yellow Dragon Tree Tips?

Dragon tree leaves also indicate their displeasure with pale, yellowing leaves. If your plant is developing yellow leaves, check for these common issues:

  • Overwatering: Dragon trees that are getting too much water often let you know with yellowing leaves. These plants do not like to be soggy. Wait until the top couple of inches of soil are dry to water again.
  • Too Much Fertilizer: Dragon trees don’t depend on fertilizer to thrive. Feeding too often can lead to fertilizer burn. Applying fertilizer once per month during the growing season will be plenty for your plant. 
  • Drafts: Dragon trees don’t appreciate sudden temperature changes, which can happen when there’s a cold draft. This could be from a window or air conditioner. Make sure the air around your tree stays at a consistent temperature, and never goes below 60 degrees.
  • Fluoride: Most Dracaena plants are sensitive to fluoride, which is often present in tap water. Try using distilled water, non-fluorinated water, or rainwater when you water your dragon tree.

If your Madagascar dragon tree is unhappy right now, the good news is that it will likely be short-lived. These plants are fairly forgiving and bounce back quickly once you remedy the issue. Give each solution you try at least a week to work before you try something different.

2 thoughts on “What Causes The Tips Of The Leaves On My Madagascar Dragon Tree To Turn Brown?”

    • These white spots are very likely caused by an invasion of bugs – mealybugs or cottony cushion scales are most common on Dragon Trees. Remove the damaged leaves, pick off whatever bugs you can see, wipe the whole plant with a damp cloth, and repot into clean soil. If the problem persists, look into home made natural pesticides, or consider using nematodes (natural predators).


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