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Philodendrons are popular houseplants that don’t require much fussing over. They are relatively easy to care for and not prone to many issues, which means they make a good starter plant for beginners. 

So when you see that your usually easy-to-manage philodendron leaves are turning brown, you know something is wrong with your plant. Fortunately, as you’ll see, many of the issues that cause this are relatively easy to fix.

Let’s take a look at what can cause philodendron leaves to brown and how you can stop it from occurring.

a philodendron that has leaves turning brown on a table

Why are my philodendron leaves turning brown?

There are several reasons as to why your philodendron leaves are turning brown, but the most likely cause is underwatering. A good indicator of this is that it is usually accompanied by dry, crispy leaves. However, browning leaves can also be caused by overwatering, cold temperatures, and too much sun. 

Figuring out the reason why your philodendron leaves are turning brown often comes down to a process of elimination, which is why running through the list of causes below can really help you to figure out the culprit.

1. Underwatering

Underwatering is the leading culprit when it comes to philodendron leaves turning brown. Without proper moisture, the plant will start to develop brown leaves that feel dry and crispy, and the stems will start to droop.

Additionally, philodendrons that are underwatered can lose their leaves, experience stunted growth, and the soil will be so dry that it starts to pull away from the pot.

2. Too much water

Overwatering is a big problem for houseplants like philodendrons, but it is, unfortunately, a common one. Like underwatering, watering your philodendron too much can cause its leaves to turn brown and yellow. These leaves will feel limp or soft and may fall off the plant.

Other symptoms of overwatering include limp stems, water-soaked blisters on the leaves, rot forming on the trunk of the plant, and the soil being overly wet and soggy.

a philodendron that has leaves turning planted on a brown pot
Source: u/nimmir

3. Exposure to cold temperatures

Philodendron needs consistent warm temperatures throughout the year in order to thrive and survive. If the plant is exposed to temperatures that are too cold, it will begin to show signs of stress. This includes brown and discolored leaves.

Furthermore, if the philodendron isn’t moved to an area where it can relieve the ideal temperature range, the plant will succumb to the temperature shock and die.

4. Too much sun

While most plants need some level of sun for the best growth, providing too much of it can sometimes cause problems. Philodendrons, for example, need bright indirect light, and placing this tropical houseplant in direct sun can result in brown, scorched leaves.

If the plant continues to be exposed to the wrong type of light, the issue will continue to progress and result in leaf drop, wilted leaves and stems, and even stunted growth.

5. Disease

While philodendrons are not overly prone to many diseases, there are some that can pose a risk to this plant and turn its leaves brown. Root rot in philodendrons is the most common disease affecting this plant, and it is directly related to overwatering.

Root rot, however, isn’t the only disease that philodendrons are susceptible to that causes brown leaves. Lea blight is another disease that can discolor the philodendron’s foliage.

a close up view of philodendron leaves turning brown

6. Too much fertilizer

Overfertilization is another potential cause when the philodendron leaves are turning brown. When you fertilize the philodendron too much or not with the right fertilizer, it can cause the excess nutrients to begin building up in the soil. 

This will affect the plant in many ways, including leaves turning brown or yellow, leaves falling off the plant, the entire plant wilting, and your philodendron’s growth rate slowing or completely stopping.

One of the easiest ways to tell whether overfertilization is causing the problem is to look at the top of the soil. When a plant is overfertilized, excess salt will begin to form at the top of the soil, resulting in a whitish colored substance covering forming on the soil’s surface.

Find out more: 10 Causes Of Your Philodendron Not Growing (+ How to Fix It)

7. Pest infestations

Sap-sucking insects, such as spider mites, mealybugs, and aphids, can infest just about any houseplant.

And while these pests are usually considered more of an annoyance than a serious threat, they can cause damage to the philodendron and start turning its leaves brown.

As their name suggests, sap-sucking insects use their sharp mouthparts to pierce the foliage and stem of the host plant and then suck the plant’s juices. This can cause the plant to have discolored and wilted leaves that fall off the plant’s stems. 

To make matters worse, these pests can transmit more serious diseases to the houseplant, so it’s good to catch these as early as possible..

8. Incorrect soil

Philodendrons are not picky plants, but they do require a few simple things in order to grow healthy and strong. One such thing is good quality soil for your philodendron that is light and airy. 

Trying to grow the philodendron in soil that is compact or one that doesn’t retain moisture while also allowing for proper drainage will cause a slew of issues for the plant.

These issues range from browning leaves to root rot. Additionally, the pot that you fill with the growing medium can also directly impact the overall health of the philodendron and can even cause its leaves to turn brown.

You may also be interested in: The Absolute Best Soil for Philodendrons to Thrive

9. Low humidity

Philodendrons are native to tropical environments that have a high level of humidity. Unfortunately, it can be difficult to achieve this same high humidity in your home. 

When the philodendron doesn’t get the right level of humidity, its leaves can start to brown and feel dry to the touch.

Low humidity can also cause the plant to not grow as quickly as it should. Other symptoms of low humidity include wilted stems and leaf drop. 

Should I cut off brown philodendron leaves?

Leaves that are brown, dead, damaged, or diseased should be pruned off the philodendron with a pair of sharp pruning shears. This will get rid of leaves that are doing nothing but using the plant’s vital resources and make room for new, healthy leaves to emerge.

Just remember when trimming a philodendron to always cut just above a leaf node and never remove more than ¼ of the plant’s foliage at a time.

Additionally, never compost potentially diseased leaves, such as ones that are turning brown, as this can increase the chance of spreading diseases to other plants.

Will brown philodendron leaves turn back to green?

Unfortunately, brown philodendron leaves won’t turn back to their once green appearance. Even if you have corrected the problem that caused the leaves to turn colors, the affected foliage will stay brown. The good news, however, is that any new leaves that emerge will be green.

They should also stay green – as long as you keep the problems that caused the initial leaf discoloration at bay.

a variety of philodendron with leaves turning brown

How to fix philodendron leaves that are turning brown

The best way to fix philodendron leaves that are turning brown is with the plant’s ideal growing requirements. This means ensuring the philodendron is given the right amount of watering, subjected to the proper amount of sun, temperature, and humidity, and monitored for pests and diseases.

It’s particularly important that you correct whichever care deficiency caused your philodendron leaves to turn brown in the first place. For example, if it was due to under- or overwatering, it’s critical to correct your watering schedule to better meet the plant’s needs.

1. Water the philodendron when the soil begins to feel dry

Philodendrons do well when their soil is constantly moist but not soggy. Allowing the soil to dry out completely can cause the leaves to turn brown. You can help prevent this by watering the philodendron regularly.

While the exact watering schedule can vary from one philodendron to the next, a good general rule of thumb is to water the philodendron about once a week. 

Pro Tip: When you do water the philodendron plant, make sure to do so deeply to allow for the philodendron’s roots to get a good soak.

2. Allow the soil to dry out a little between waterings

Philodendrons do well when their soil is constantly moist but not soggy. Unfortunately, this can lead to indoor gardeners overwatering the plant. As I am sure you are aware, overwatering can cause serious issues that have a negative effect on the plant’s health.

To help prevent this from occurring, test the moisture level of the soil before watering. Insert your finger into the top 2 to 3 inches of soil. Water the philodendron if the soil feels dry, but wait to water for a few days if the soil feels damp.

a heart shape philodendron with leaves turning brown

3. Keep the plant in warm temperatures

Philodendrons have a temperature requirement of between 65 and 70 degrees during the night, and 75 to 85 degrees during the day. If these temperatures are not met, the philodendron can start to develop brown leaves. 

Another thing to consider is that you should never place the philodendron in an area that sees drastic shifts in temperatures.

That is, areas such as under heating and cooling vents and next to exterior doors can cause the temperature near the plant to fluctuate up and down rather rapidly. This results in a temperature shock, which will cause the leaves to brown.

Related: 13 Reasons Why Your Philodendron Has Brown Spots (+ How to Fix It)

4. Don’t place the philodendron in direct sun

Direct light, whether natural or artificial, can quickly scorch the philodendron’s leaves. Keeping the plant out of this harsh light is the best way to prevent its leaves from damage.

The best light for philodendrons will come from an indoor location, where the plant can receive indirect sunlight that is bright. A sunny window that has a shade or sheer curtain is a good example of the right location for philodendrons.

5. Implement preventive measures to keep diseases at bay

When your philodendron leaves are turning brown due to diseases, applying a fungicide, such as liquid copper fungicide, can help control fungal and bacterial diseases. 

Unfortunately, though, these fungicides won’t keep the diseases from returning if you don’t implement preventive measures.

For example, some diseases that can brown leaves occur when infected soil is splashed up onto the philodendron’s leaves. This can be prevented by simply watering the plant at its base and not from above. When you water at the base, you prevent the soil from splashing up and onto the leaves, which spread the disease.

6. Avoid overfeeding the philodendron

Philodendrons are not heavy feeders, but they can benefit from light feeding every now and again. That doesn’t mean, however, that you can pile on the fertilizer without a second thought. 

This is because too much fertilizer will damage the philodendron’s roots and cause its leaves to discolor. Only applying a balanced liquid fertilizer once a month during the spring and summer will go a long way to preventing overfertilization. 

Furthermore, you should always read and follow the instructions listed on the fertilizer label to help prevent even more damage to the plant.

hanging philodendron with leaves turning brown

7. Regularly examine your philodendron for signs of pests

Some pests can go unnoticeable on houseplants until they have seemingly sucked the plant dry. While pests are not usually a serious issue, they should still be dealt with as soon as you notice them.

Thankfully, sap-sucking insects are rather easy to deal with and can be treated with insecticidal soap or neem oil. Both of these products are available at various garden centers. 

In most cases, you will have to liberally apply the pesticide to the tops and underside of the foliage, as well as the stem, and will usually have to repeat the application once every 7 to 14 days.

FYI: Another thing to consider is that, if you notice pests on one houseplant, they may have infected your other houseplants. It’s a good idea to check your other plants as well and then quarantine all the infected plants away from the non-infected plants.

8. Use only well-drained soil to grow the philodendron in

If you want your philodendron to stay healthy, you will need to grow it in the right type of soil. In particular, philodendrons need soil that retains moisture and has good drainage. 

There are a few different soils on the market designed specifically for philodendrons that will work well, or you can create your own mixture.

The ideal growing medium for philodendron is a mixture of 1 part peat moss, 1 part potting mix, 1 part orchid bark, and 1/4 part perlite. This mixture provides good drainage, isn’t compact, and will still retain just enough moisture that the philodendron needs.

Related: 6 Easy Steps to Make Your Philodendron Fuller and Bushier

9. Increase the humidity level around your philodendron

Humidity is such a small part of indoor gardening, but it can have a major impact on the overall health of tropical houseplants, such as philodendron. Not providing the philodendron with high humidity levels can leave the plant dry and unwell. 

Thankfully, there are a couple of different ways you can improve the humidity level for your plant.

The first option is to use a humidifier. This is a small appliance whose only job is to put water into the air. They are relatively inexpensive and readily available at various stores.

Another way to increase the humidity levels is with a drip tray. This is a shallow tray that is filled with small pebbles, and the philodendron’s pot is set on top of the tray. 

Whenever you water the philodendron, the excess water drains out of the pot and into the drip tray, and then the water naturally evaporates into the air, which increases the humidity level around the plant. 

Why is my philodendron getting brown edges?

A philodendron that has brown edges is usually a sign of over fertilization. Too much fertilizer causes excess nutrients to build up in the soil and it can even harm the philodendron’s roots. When this occurs, the philodendron’s soil will need to be flushed in order to get rid of the excess fertilizer.

This can be done by placing the philodendron under running water for an extended period of time. The water will flush the excess nutrients out of the soil.

To help prevent over fertilization from occurring again, make sure to only apply a balanced, liquid fertilizer no more than once every month during the plant’s growing season.

someone holding a philodendron leaves turning brown

Why are my philodendron leaves turning yellow and brown?

The two main causes of philodendron leaves turning yellow and brown are dry soil and low humidity. Philodendrons are tropical plants that grow in an environment that provides the plant with moist, but not soggy soil, and humidity levels that can reach as high as 90 percent.

When the philodendron doesn’t receive this type of condition, it will become dry and begin to crave moisture. Your philodendron’s leaves will begin to turn yellow and brown, and the philodendron can start to experience the symptoms associated with underwatering.