Philodendron Leaves Turning Brown – Causes and Fix

Philodendron Leaves Turning Brown

Philodendrons are typically large perennial plants prized for their glossy, verdant foliage. It is certainly a cause for concern when their leaves begin turning brown, and identifying the specific factor behind this is the first step in preventing the progression of this damage.

Philodendron leaves turning brown

The leaves of Philodendrons may develop brown spots on their surface, or the browning may occur at the tips. The location of the browning provides vital clues to the cause. While many reasons may overlap for both types of browning, a couple is specific to either brown spots or brown tips.

Overwatering, too much sunlight, and over-fertilization are all common to both. But brown spots are specific to the use of a commercial cleaner, while browning tips are typical of scorching from close proximity to heaters or radiators.

Too much sunlight

Philodendrons are native to tropical regions where they receive bright sunlight filtered through the canopy of trees beneath which they flourish. This amount and intensity of sunlight are optimal for their growth, and any more or less will affect their health.

In particular, Philodendrons cannot tolerate too much sunlight and an excess of it will result in sun damage to their foliage. This will manifest as brown spots on the leaves or browning of the leaf tips.

If you notice your Philodendron’s leaves turning brown and determine that excess sunlight is responsible, promptly transfer the plant to an area where the leaves will not be scorched by direct sunlight, especially in the afternoons. 

Underwatering or overwatering

Philodendrons need just the right amount of water. Receiving either too much or too little will both have unwanted effects that will be reflected on the plant’s leaves. Of the two, underwatering is more commonly the cause.

In their natural tropical environment, Philodendrons benefit from frequent rainfall. When this need is not satisfied, the plants suffer from drought stress and their leaves turn brown and droop.

Overwatered Philodendrons, on the other hand, may also exhibit browning foliage as the accumulated water in the pot blocks the oxygen flow to the roots and disables them from absorbing the nutrients they need. 

Underwatered Philodendrons should be given a generous watering to rejuvenate them. In contrast, overwatered Philodendrons should be left to dry, to allow the roots to heal and the plants to recover. 


Applying too much fertilizer can result in fertilizer burn, the most common manifestation of which is the browning of foliage. It can either occur as brown spots or streaks on the leaves, or as browning of the tips of the leaves.

There is only so much fertilizer Philodendrons can process. That which cannot be processed accumulates as a build-up of salts in the soil that draws out the moisture from the plant, causing the leaves to turn brown.

Low humidity

Philodendrons are designed for the high humidity of their native environment. Growing them in areas with low humidity may pose problems such as browning leaves. However, this can be easily remedied through daily misting to provide the plant with enough moisture.


It is important to note that foliage that has turned brown for any of the aforementioned reasons will not be able to heal itself. There is no way to restore the green color to leaves that have turned brown. That is why it is imperative to act early to mitigate the browning.

A plant whose leaves have turned brown is not a lost cause. If the damage is not too far along, the brown leaves can be pruned off, provided there are not too many at once so as to cause the plant stress. In time, healthy green leaves will grow and replace the damaged brown ones. 

Image: / Thananat