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Calathea Leaves Turning Brown: Understand And Fix It

Calathea plants are famous for their bright, big leaves. But, if you spot your Calathea leaves turning brown, this might be because of lots of reasons like wrong way of watering, not enough dampness, bugs, diseases, too much plant food, wrong lighting, or bad temperature levels. Getting these causes can help fix the plant and stop leaves from browning in future.

Symptoms of Calathea leaves turning brown

  • Brown leaf sides: Usually, the first thing seen is brown edges on the Calathea leaves. The main reasons for this include not watering enough, low dampness levels, or hard tap water.
  • Whole leaf browning: Although not as usual as brown edges, entire leaves going brown is a sad view for any plant lover. Same reasons to those causing brown edges contribute here too – not enough dampness, not watering enough, or too much minerals in water. Other things can be too much fertilizer, bug problem, or diseases.
  • Yellow leaves: Yellowing leaves can be a sign of both not watering enough and too much watering. Apart from these, lack of nutrients may also lead to this symptom, hinting that it’s time for a schedule for plant food.
  • Drooping leaves: Leaves that seem to droop could be showing trouble from not enough water, too much water, or too much heat. Regular care about watering and temperature levels is important in stopping this symptom.
  • Bugs or Diseases: A variety of bugs and diseases can also cause Calathea leaves to turn brown. Usual bugs like spider mites, mealybugs, and thrips are often found in Calatheas. On the disease side, leaf spot, rust, and powdery mildew are some common diseases that can lead to leaves going brown.

Figuring out these signs and what’s causing them can help in figuring out and fixing the problems effectively, making sure your Calathea plant grows healthily.

symptoms of calathea leaves turning brown

Causes of Calathea leaves turning brown

Watering Issues

The Consequences of Underwatering

Calathea plants like slightly damp soil. So, forgetting to water them for long times can result in bad results like dry leaves, browning leaf ends, and other possible health problems.

When a plant isn’t getting enough water, the leaves may curl and brown at the edges. Plants not watered enough also show signs of slowing down growth. This happens because not enough water slows down the plant’s ability to soak up needed nutrients from the soil, hence slowing their growth.

The Impact of Overwatering

While not watering enough can cause trouble, too much watering is often the main problem behind browning Calathea leaves. When the soil is too wet from too much water, it leads to root rot, which can then show as browning leaf ends.

Apart from making leaves go brown, too much watering can also lead to other plant health problems. The extra water can flood the roots, stopping them from soaking up the needed nutrients. This lack of nutrients can result in yellow or droopy leaves. Over time, this stress from too much water weakens the plant, leading to it finally dying if not fixed quickly.

Water quality

Fluoride in tap water and hard water can cause problems for Calathea plants. Tap water can be used to grow them, but, depending on your tap water’s quality, this may also result in brown leaf edges.

Poor Drainage

Calathea needs well-draining soil, and a pot that doesn’t hold water.

If the drainage is bad, dead leaves that have been killed by root rot or too much water will eventually dry up and go brown.

If your Calathea is turning brown and shedding leaves, you may need to change how you water and make it more damp to stop the soil from drying up.


Unlock the Secrets of Proper Calathea Watering Techniques and Ensure Thriving Plants. Dive in now!

Humidity Issues

Low Humidity

Calathea plants are famous for their beautiful, big, and bright leaves. But, these leaves may start to go brown at the edges if the dampness in your house gets too low. Calathea leaves dry out when there’s not enough dampness, which leads to browning and hurting.

Lack of Humidity

Calathea comes from humid jungles and loves high dampness levels of over 70%. For them to do well, this dampness level is perfect.

But if the dampness around your Calathea plant hasn’t been enough, it’ll dry out. Its beautiful leaves will start to get brown tips.

calathea lack of humidity


Pests and Diseases

Harmful bugs, like Calathea spider mites, mealybugs, aphids, and thrips, munch on the lush leaves of the Calathea plant, leading to browning. Diseases, like fungus and bacteria, can also hurt the plant’s health, leading to brown spots and maybe even leaf drooping.

Spider mites are the most common bugs that can hurt your Calathea plant. The browning of your Calathea leaves can be caused by these bugs.

Despite being tiny, spider mites are easy to spot on plants because of their reddish-brown or white color.

The grown-up spider mites, however, are the only way to know if your plant is getting infested because the spider mites’ eggs can’t be seen with the naked eye.

Instead of brown dots spread over the leaf, this browning will show as isolated brown spots. The whole leaf may go brown and fall off if it’s badly hurt.


When grown indoors, this houseplant, like many others, needs only a little bit of plant food. Most of what it needs is met by the potting soil.

During their growing seasons, which include spring and summer, Calathea plants need plant food. However, you shouldn’t give your plant too much food as this can lead to the Calathea leaves turning brown.

Especially in winter, these plants don’t need plant food. Also, if you keep giving your plant food, it’ll get too much.

When a Calathea plant gets plant food, the leaf tips will go dry and brown from too many minerals and nutrients in the soil.

If you’ve already given the plant loads of plant food, stay away from giving more and change the potting soil.

Calathea that’s been given too much plant food may show clear signs of browning at the leaf tips and edges. Usually, the lower leaves will also droop and go yellow.

Even though the signs above could be misread for overwatering or root rot, if you see white crusts showing up on your potting soil, your Calathea is probably getting too much plant food.

calathea lancifolia leaves turning brown

Wrong Light Conditions

Wrong Light Conditions can be caused by too much direct sunlight which can burn the leaves or not enough light which can lead to poor plant health and discoloration.

Calathea plants cannot tolerate direct or excessive amounts of light. This plant thrives in the shade of giant jungle trees and does best in low to medium-light conditions. Very direct sunlight has the tendency to cause leaves to rapidly lose their color, dry out, and eventually turn brown and fall off.

You’ll notice that the upper leaves of your plant are growing brown patches if it has been exposed to direct sunlight, but the lower leaves, which are shielded by the upper leaves, are unaffected.

Relate: Calathea Light Requirements: A Complete Guide 2023

Temperature Issues

Brown tips on leaves are just as likely to result from hot, dry air as they are from cold air.

Calathea plants require warm environments for growth. Because of the consistently high temperatures during the spring and summer, it grows the greatest during those seasons.

A Calathea prefers temperatures of 65 to 80 degrees Fahrenheit. The leaves may start to yellow or wilt if temperatures drop too low. Similarly, you might start to notice leaf yellowing and discoloration if temperatures exceed 80 degrees Fahrenheit.

When the temperature fluctuates, your plant usually experiences stress, and you will see dark blotches on the leaf. Additionally, your Calathea plant may seem dead and show no signs of growth.

calathea makoyana leaves turning brown

How to fix Calathea leaves turning brown

Proper Watering

The trick to keep your Calathea healthy and bright is getting the watering just right. Too much water can make the roots go bad, while not enough water can lead to the plant drying out and leaves drooping.

If your plant’s had too much water, it’s a good idea to let the soil dry out totally before going back to your usual watering. On the other hand, if your plant looks thirsty, think about watering it more often.

Finding the middle ground between too little water and too much water is important so your Calatheas do well. Water your plant when the top bit of soil is dry, and try to use room temperature water from a clean water source if you can.

You can check if a plant needs water with a light press on top of its soil with your finger – if it feels dry then it’s ready for a drink.

Water less often in winter than in the summer, because the cooler temps mean water dries slower.

Also, spraying your Calathea regularly or using an air moisturizer nearby can help keep its leaves from going brown.

Taking time to make sure all water-related problems are sorted can help bring back your Calathea’s beautiful leaves.

You may also like: Calathea Watering : The Complete And Best Guide

Increase Humidity

Calathea plants need a lot of humidity to stay healthy, so it’s super important to bump up the humidity in your house if your plant’s leaves are going brown. Calatheas love damp air and will struggle if the air around them is too dry. Try to keep the humidity between 50-70%.

To do this:

  • You can put an air moisturizer by your Calathea plant or spray the plant with a spray bottle every day.
  • Also, you can try putting plants together and adding a rock tray filled with water to make the air more humid.
  • Don’t put your Calathea plant too near any heat source like a radiator or furnace.
  • Keep your plant away from any windows or doors that get opened a lot.
  • During winter, try not to expose your Calathea plant to cold drafts, low temperatures, and frost.
  • If your bathroom has good airflow, you could try putting your Calathea there.
  • Make sure to keep an eye on the humidity levels and spray regularly for the best results.


Your Calathea plant’s leaves might also go brown if you feed it too much. So, make sure to feed your Calathea just right.

A balanced, water-mixable plant food with equal parts plant food ingredients is the best choice for a Calathea.

During spring and summer, feed your plant every two weeks; however, when your plant’s growth slows in fall and winter, use less plant food.

When feeding, be careful to thin out the plant food according to the directions on the package because too much plant food can be just as bad as not enough.

Plus, cleaning your Calathea’s soil every few months helps get rid of extra stuff that could hurt or burn the roots and leaves. The easiest way to keep your Calathea healthy and free of brown leaves is to feed as directed and clean the soil regularly.

Proper Light

Wrong Light Conditions can be caused by too much straight sunlight which can burn the leaves or not enough light which can lead to poor plant health and discoloration.

Calathea plants can’t stand straight sunlight or lots of it. This plant grows best in low to medium light and loves the shade of huge jungle trees. Leaves tend to quickly dry out, lose their color, and eventually turn brown and fall off in very straight sunlight.

Placing your plant just right makes sure the leaves are the most vibrant and colorful. You might find that moving it a few feet away from the window or closer can really change how your Calathea looks.

Also, you should turn your plant once a week so all sides get the same amount of light and prevent any leaves from becoming unbalanced.

proper light for calathea

Pest and Disease Control

When the leaves of your Calathea start to show browning because of a sickness, quick fixes are needed to stop it from spreading. Taking off the sick leaves is a really important first step.

A bunch of diseases like bacterial leaf spots, powdery mildew, and leaf blight can all be managed by making sure your plant’s place isn’t too wet or too dry.

Having good airflow is really important for the leaves, as it reduces the chances of having a fungus problem a lot. Putting a fungus killer on the sick leaves can help in getting rid of the sickness and stopping it from spreading.

Keeping an eye out for bugs and diseases is really important, as these are often the main causes of the browning of Calathea leaves.

While bug killers can easily handle and prevent bug problems, natural alternatives like neem juice also work well.

Also, growing your plant in a place with good airflow and staying away from too damp conditions can lower the chances of having fungus problems.

Proper Temperature

Taking care of a Calathea plant needs you to think carefully about how warm it needs to be. Try to keep the surrounding temperature between 65 and 85 degrees Fahrenheit, ideally aiming for around 75 degrees Fahrenheit.

In situations where it’s hard to keep this temperature all the time, it might be a good idea to think about getting a humidifier or a different kind of heater. These tools can be really helpful in keeping your plant healthy by making sure it stays in its favorite climate.

If your Calathea is near a draft-filled window or door, it’s best to move it because this could be another cause of the browning leaves.

Keep your Calathea away from direct sunlight because this can also make the leaves turn brown and get hurt.

If your Calathea seems to be overheating, move it to a spot that’s farther from the heat source.

  • Check the soil because the heat is likely to have dried out the plant as well. In this situation, make sure to water the soil really well.
  • Don’t feed your Calathea when it’s dealing with heat.
  • Make sure your Calathea isn’t near or under any vents or windows that might let in drafts during the cold winter time.
  • If your Calathea is an outdoor plant, bring it inside before winter gets cold or cover it at night if you expect chilly weather.
  • Your plant will get better in a few days if you take it out of the too stressful situation.

Prevention of Brown Leaves

Ensure Adequate Drainage for Your Calathea

Calatheas need soil that drains well to avoid too wet soil, which can lead to root decay and browning leaves. Make sure your pot has enough drain holes, and consider a potting mix that has good water flow.

Prune Your Calathea Regularly

Trimming helps new growth and can help keep the plant healthy. Regular trimming also lets you take off any browning leaves, stopping disease from spreading and improving the whole look of your Calathea.

Regulate Your Calathea’s Humidity Levels

Brown leaves may be a sign of the wrong water amount in the soil, which can come from either too much or too little water. A moisture gauge, such as a hygrometer, can help in keeping track of the soil’s moisture level, letting you change when you water as needed.

Inspect Your Calathea for Pests and Diseases

Bugs and diseases can make leaves turn brown, so regularly checking is important. If you notice any signs of a bug problem or disease, quickly handle them using good treatments, or get professional help if needed.

Avoid Over-Fertilization

Using too much fertilizer can make leaves turn brown. When fertilizing your Calathea, make sure the fertilizer is specially made for Calatheas and stick closely to the package directions.

Provide Sufficient Light for Your Calathea

Brown leaves might mean your Calathea isn’t getting enough light. While Calatheas like not direct light, if it’s too shaded, think about moving your plant to a spot with more light around.

Avoid Over-Watering

Overwatering can cause the leaf tips to brown. Water your Calathea well, then let the soil dry out before you water again. This balance helps make sure your plant is properly watered without the soil getting too wet.

Monitor the Temperature

Extreme temperatures can make leaves turn brown. Protect your Calathea from harsh heat or cold, offering shelter or extra heat in winter if needed.

FAQs About Calathea Leaves Turning Brown

Q: How do I know if my Calathea’s leaves are turning brown due to underwatering or overwatering?

A: Usually, when a plant is underwatered its leaves will look wilted and dry on the edges. On the other hand, when a plant is overwatered, its leaves may become soft and yellow or brown. To be sure, check the soil with your finger to see if it’s dry before watering.

Q: Is it normal for some older Calathea leaves to turn brown?

A: It is normal for some of the older leaves on a Calathea plant to turn brown and die off. This is part of its natural growth cycle, so there’s no need to worry. Simply take off the dead leaves from the plant and keep giving it the right environment.

Q: Can the Brown Leaves Of Calathea Turn Green Again?

A: A leaf’s tip or an inside part that has dried out and turned brown won’t ever turn green again. The rest of the leaf should stay green if the original cause is handled, but you can cut off the hurt part.

Q: Brown Leaves: Should I Remove Them?
A: If you see any brown or dried leaves, feel free to take them off right away because they won’t grow back. As a result, fresh leaves have more room to spread out without becoming crowded. If a leaf turns brown, you can also cut off the tips or take off a part of it.

Q: Why does Calathea Leaves Crisp?
A: Your Calathea is probably dealing with temperature changes, dry soil, direct sunlight, too much fertilizer, and not enough water if its leaves become brown and have a crispy texture.

Final thoughts

If your Calathea leaves are turning brown, it could be because of a bunch of reasons. However, with the proper know-how and some easy tricks, you can easily fix the problem.

If you think there might be any of these other issues, try some of the fixes we talked about above and see if that helps. Still stuck? Give us a shout at Famiplants and we’d be glad to assist you to get your calathea back to normal.

Hi, I'm Cathleen Clemens. I graduated from Cornell University with a degree in plant science. I gained detailed knowledge about various kinds of plants and how to properly care for them. My experience has enabled me to easily detect any issues such as pest infestations, nutrient deficiencies, or signs of diseases in the plants.

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