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Why Is My Corn Plant Turning Brown?

New plant owners and veteran gardeners alike can relate to the disappointment you feel when your corn plant is stressed. It can be frustrating and confusing to diagnose and fix the problem without further harming your plant. In this article, we’ll talk about what causes of brown leaves, other common issues with Dracaena fragrans, and how to rehabilitate your plant. 

Why Are the Tips of My Corn Plant Turning Brown?

why are the tips of my corn plant turning brown

It’s difficult to diagnose the cause of plant distress from a single symptom since multiple issues can lead to the same signs. There are several possible reasons for brown leaf tips, for instance. 

To figure out why your corn plant’s leaves are turning brown, you will need to take a complete overview of your plant care routine and the overall health of your dracaena. Start by reading about the common reasons for brown leaf tips on corn plants, and see if it makes sense for your plant: 

Underwatering

Browning leaves are a classic symptom of insufficient water. If you consistently let your corn plant dry out more than they like, the leaves may turn brown. 

Inconsistent Watering

If your plant experiences periods of drought interspersed with excessive watering, you might notice signs of stress, such as brown leaf tips.

Too Much Fertilizer

Houseplant fertilizer is a great way to give your dracaena a nutrient boost. Too much, however, can burn the roots and lead to browning leaves. 

Type of Water

Corn plants typically aren’t picky about the type of water they receive, and in most cases, tap water should be sufficient. However, if your tap water contains high levels of fluoride or chlorine, you might notice symptoms like browning leaves. 

Temperature Changes

Dracaenas can exhibit signs of stress when they experience a dramatic shift in temperature, such as a cold draft or if they are brought outside for the summer in high heat. 

Lack of Humidity

Corn plants are native to tropical Africa, where there’s no shortage of humidity. If the air is too dry in your home, you may notice some brown leaf tips. 

Sunburn

While they enjoy bright light from a sunny window, Dracaena fragrans should not be placed in direct sunlight. Brown edges are a telltale sign of a sunburned leaf. 

Pests

Although corn plants aren’t particularly prone to pests, they won’t always be excluded from an infestation. Spider mites, thrips, scale, and mealybugs are the most likely corn plant pests and can cause leaf damage along with other symptoms. 

For another perspective on brown dracaena plant tips, check out this helpful video:

How Do You Fix Brown Leaves on Corn Plants? 

Once you have the potential culprit in mind, you can start a gradual process of trial and error to get your corn plant back in good health. It’s important to wait 1-2 weeks between each change you make to your plant’s condition.

Any care change you make has the potential to stress your plant out, causing further symptoms. The best way to pinpoint the issue is by trying one fix at a time, and waiting to see whether the adjustment affected your dracaena. 

Here are some of the changes you could try for each of the common causes of browning leaves:

Underwatering/Inconsistent Watering 

Figuring out a watering system that works best for you and your houseplants is fundamental. Watering schedules (i.e., watering once per week, etc.) are not recommended since many changes to your home environment can affect how quickly the soil dries out. 

Instead, water your plant as needed.  Corn plants like to be kept relatively moist – try only to let the top inch of the soil dry out before watering again. 

A great way to remember to check the soil is to set a calendar reminder every couple of days or download a plant care app that will remind you.

Too Much Fertilizer

Corn plants only need fertilizer once per month at most if they are experiencing active growth. It’s also essential to use the correct type of fertilizer and adhere to the dosing on the product label to avoid toxicity. 

Any all-purpose fertilizer for tropical houseplants should work well for your Dracaena fragrans.

Type of Water

If you suspect your tap water may contain chemicals your plant is sensitive to, you can order a water test kit or have your water tested by a local laboratory. The EPA’s website has many helpful resources if you decide to go this route. 

Another solution is to use an alternate water source for your plant and see if that solves the issue. Rainwater, spring water, or filtered water are good options for many houseplants.

Temperature Changes

Dracaenas are sensitive to temperatures outside of the range of average temperatures in their native tropical habitat. Corn plants can tolerate a minimum of 50 degrees Fahrenheit and a maximum of about 90 degrees Fahrenheit. Ideally, your plant will be happiest at temperatures between 65-75 degrees.

Sunburn

If you think your dracaena’s leaves have sun damage, simply move them a few feet away from the sun. Once you trim the brown edges, monitor the leaves for further browning in your plant’s new location. 

Pests

Pest treatment varies depending on the creature you’re dealing with. Here’s a guide to help you identify common houseplant pests. 

Head to your local garden center to find the appropriate treatment once you figure out what is attacking your plant’s leaves. 

Final Words

Although corn plants are tough and easy-going, every houseplant has a certain tolerance for poor growing conditions. Fortunately, dracaenas are forgiving and usually bounce back quickly.

If you’re still stumped after much trial and error, try reaching out to a local nursery owner (especially if you purchased the plant there) or a plant expert you know for advice.  

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