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  • Why are the edges of my plant leaves turning brown?

    Created by KJSegall on

    Hello- this is my first post here. I’m hoping someone can help.

    I have a patio garden that has grown very well, even with the Florida summer. However very recently I noticed the leaves on some of my plants growing brown edges very rapidly- overnight, actually. My garden is a mix of herbs and ‘decorative’ plants.

    It started after a rain with some of my oregano, geranium, mint, and marjoram (the mint and marjoram are in the same holder; there is some thyme in the same holder as the oregano, but with the tiny leaves it was hard to tell if they were affected as well). Again it was after an evening shower, the next morning I was startled by how quickly the tips of the leaves had turned brown.

    I had recently used Eliminator brand fire ant killer (I know, dumb with the herbs, I just won’t cook with them for a while) to clear out a hefty ant infestation, and at first I thought maybe I had used too much in these particular pots and would just have to ‘wait out’ the damage. However today there was another late afternoon shower, and I found that several other plants had almost instantaneously developed brown edges- including some coleus cuttings that are sitting in water and were never exposed to the ant poison.

    I’m worried that there must be some sort of fungus spreading through my ‘garden’- its still somewhat sporatic, with what I would guess to be half of the plants affected. But as much as I search through Google, ask those wiser, etc., I cannot find ANYTHING that corresponds with these ‘symptoms’.

    The plants thus far affected are geranium, coleus, hypoestes (one, but not seemingly another, yet…), vinca, parsley, mint (2 seperate mint plants in 2 seperate containers), oregano, marjoram, sage, and dill. I live in the Tampa FL region. The plants show no additional signs of this being overwatering, and I can basically guarantee they are not underwatered. (Also, note that this damage seems to appear almost instantaneously, which in my experience poor watering damage is more gradual). Both ‘spurts’ of this appeared after a moderate rain- perhaps something getting spread around by the splashing?

    Can anyone at all help me figure out what in the world is happening, and what I can do about it? I hate to lose my entire ‘garden’…

    PS I have pictures, just am not sure how to attach? (If I can)

  • Author
  • #282642

    Eric Vinje

    Hello –

    From what we could research, it sounds like what you’re seeing is physiological leaf roll due to excess moisture. If your plants are on a drip system, or if your watering schedule didn’t change after the rainstorms, the soil could become too saturated. Some of the plants you have can be “big drinkers” and like the extra water, which is why you could be seeing the damage in only some plants. The extra water from the rain and the humidity in Florida create the combination of “excess moisture” which your plants seem to be responding to immediately. Our best recommendation would be to alter your watering schedule and or help the soil by aerating it with an spike aerator.

    Not sure what’s on your plants or how to treat them? View our Plant Diseases page for pictures, descriptions and remedies.

    Hope it helps!



    When a plant gets brown edges on leaves or brown leaf tips, a gardener’s first thought may be that this is a disease or pest that is attacking the plant. This is not always the case. When there are whole brown leaves on a plant, this can indicate several dozen problems; but when just the sides or tips of the leaf turn brown, there is only one problem — the plant is stressed. Most commonly brown leaf tips or brown edges on leaves are caused by the plant not getting enough water. There are several reasons why this may happen.

    1. There may be too little natural water falling.
    2. The roots are constricted and unable to reach out for water.
    3. The soil does not hold onto the water.
    4. The roots may be damaged.

    Another reason for the sides of a leaf to turn brown is a high salt content in the soil. This can either be natural in the soil, such as from living close to the ocean, or this can happen through over fertilizing. If you live near a source of salt water, there will be very little you can do to correct the problem. If you suspect that you have over fertilized, reduce the amount of fertilizer and increase the amount of watering for a few weeks to help wash the salt away.

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