A calathea plant is a very striking houseplant with large, colorful leaves. Calatheas are native to tropical regions of South America and Southeast Asia, where command attention with their beauty. But sometimes their leaves don’t look so great. In fact, they can turn brown!
It is natural for calathea leaves to turn brown as they age, but there are also several other more serious reasons why this could be happening. Let’s learn more…
Why Are My Calathea Leaves Turning Brown?
One of the most common reasons for browning calathea leaves is overwatering. This plant needs to be watered thoroughly and then allowed to dry out before watering again. If you notice that your calathea has turned brown because it was too wet, try cutting back on how often you water it and see if the color returns!
Root rot and fungal infections can hand-in-hand with overwatering. In fact, brown leaves can indicate that your plant is suffering from root rot and needs to be saved ASAP!
Another reason that your calathea leaves may be turning brown is because of the temperature and exposure to sunlight. If the plant has been exposed to extreme sunlight, it can cause discoloration of the leaf tips and margins.
I will now talk about what you can do to save your beloved plant…
Can I Revive Brown Calathea Leaves?
You can revive brown leaves by acting fast and giving your calathea the correct care. I will now go into how you can revive brown calathea leaves that are suffering due to a number of different reasons.
Reviving brown calathea leaves from overwatering
If the leaves are brown from overwatering, you should take the following steps to save your plant:
- Stop watering immediately.
- Re-pot your calathea and check for root rot.
- Use a pair of sterilized scissors to prune any black roots.
- Allow the plant to dry out in an environment that isn’t too humid.
- Once your calathea has dried out for several days (or even weeks), slowly introduce more light and water into its environment. Be careful not to over-water once again! Keep the soil moist but never soggy and stop fertilizing until new growth appears.
- If all goes well after two months of this routine, then congratulations: you saved your brown leaves! Calatheas are very resilient plants that often bounce back from neglect without too much damage done.
Reviving brown calathea leaves from sunburn
If your calathea has been exposed to too much sunlight, move it away from direct light sources immediately! Browning from sun exposure will usually go away if you re-position your plant, so keep an eye on how quickly this happens.
If there is no improvement after a few days, consider moving your calathea outdoors to a shady location that lets your plant breathe.
Reviving brown calathea leaves from fungal infection
You can revive a calathea that has brown leaves from fungal infection by using a fungicide, like neem oil. If you don’t know what neem oil is, it is a natural fungicide made from the seeds of an Indian neem tree. You can find it at most garden centers or order online!
Apply a generous amount of neem oil to the leaves, making sure that you get into all of those beautiful nooks and crannies.
If this process doesn’t work after one month or so, then I am very sorry but your calathea might have passed away… 🙁 But don’t give up hope just yet! Try propagating another leaf cutting from this exact same plant to see if it can be brought back to life….
How Do You Keep Calathea Leaves from Turning Brown?
You’ll want to avoid browning leaves in the future, right? You can do this by following the basic care instructions for a calathea plant.
First, make sure that your calathea is in a spot with the right amount of light. A plant will turn brown if it’s been exposed to too much or not enough!
Next, keep your calathea moist during the growing season by watering once a week. During winter dormancy you can water less often (every two weeks). In both seasons, only water when the calathea soil feels dry down an inch into its depth. Calatheas don’t like wet feet!
If you follow these basic care instructions, then your calathea should remain green and healthy!
Brown Calathea Leaves FAQs
You may have a few questions about your browning calathea, so I will answer some of the most frequently asked questions on this topic.
My calathea leaves have brown spots, is this a fungus?
Brown spots often indicate fungus, incorrect watering, or sunburn. If the leaves feel damp, then it’s highly likely that your calathea has a fungal infection. Use neem oil to save your plant!
My calathea leaves have brown tips, what’s wrong with them?
Browning at the leaf tips of a calathea could mean that they’re dried out. This often happens when the plant has received too much sunlight, which happens every summer across the world.
Should I re-pot my calathea with brown leaves?
Re-pot your calathea if the leaves are brown due to overwatering or fungal infection. This is the best way to check if your plant has root rot and tackle the issue asap.
Why are the brown leaves on my calathea falling off?
Plants drop brown leaves when it’s time for them to go. These leaves are dead and there is no saving them, so just let them fall off naturally.
In conclusion, there are several reasons why your calathea leaves may be turning brown. These include overwatering, sun exposure, and fungal infection! You can revive a plant or at least save it by following some basic care instructions.
It’s important to avoid this happening again in the future by following these care instructions, such as only watering when the top inch of soil is dry and positioning your calathea in the right amount of light. If your plant is also turning yellow, then also check out my article on that.
Tim is an avid gardener from the UK. He was the founder of PlantCarer.com from 2021 to Sep 2023. He sold PlantCarer.com to Aaron. He has since started his own business called Seed To Supper, which provides new gardeners all the materials you need in a box (pots, seeds, compost and instructions) to grow your own delicious and nutritious vegetables and herbs from start to finish – no garden required.