Why Are My Anthurium Leaves Turning Brown? | How to Fix It

Anthurium (Anthurium andraeanum) goes by many other names including laceleaf, flamingo flower, Hawaiian heart, tailflower and painter’s palette. It’s an evergreen perennial that is native to Colombia and Ecuador. 

Both the foliage and flowers of Anthurium are heart-shaped and waxy, giving the plant an artificial look. The leaves are dark green and provide a striking contrast against the red blooms. Thick, fleshy stems protrude from the blooms. 

Although Anthurium is low maintenance, unsuitable growing conditions can result in the browning of their leaves. If your Anthurium is suffering from brown leaves, fear not because this article covers the causes and solutions, plus how to prevent browning. 

Why Do Anthurium Leaves Turn Brown?

Being evergreens, Anthuriums should boast lush green foliage throughout the year. Hence, discolored leaves are a visual indicator that your plant is unhappy with its current conditions.  

Necrosis is the scientific name for the death of leaf cells and tissues, which typically appear as brown patches. Brown leaves feel dry and brittle to touch and cannot be revived again. There are a number of factors that cause necrosis including watering problems, nutrient deficiencies and climate issues. 

The yellowing of leaves is known as chlorosis, and it usually occurs before the leaves turn brown. As such, it’s a good idea to keep an eye on your Anthurium for any changes in its foliage color, so you can treat it as quickly as possible. 

What Causes Anthurium Leaves to Turn Brown?

Anthurium are a tropical species that favor warm and humid temperatures. They should be placed in a location where they will receive bright but indirect sunlight. Nutrient-rich, well-draining and slightly acidic soil is best for this plant. 

Diagnosis is the first and most crucial step to treating and preventing the browning of your Anthurium leaves. There are certain key symptoms you can look out for to help identify the underlying cause of necrosis. 

Below, I have listed common reasons for Anthurium leaves turning brown, the symptoms and most importantly the solutions. 

Overwatering

If your Anthurium is being overwatered, it will appear yellow around the edges which can eventually turn brown if left untreated. The foliage will also appear droopy, the soil will be wet to the touch, and the flowers may drop off. 

Too much or too frequent watering can cause the soil to become heavily saturated. Waterlogged soil can deprive the roots of oxygen, leading to root rot. Consequently, decaying roots can quickly infect healthy roots and eventually kill the plant. 

To rectify this, remove your Anthurium from its container and wash off any remaining soil. Using secateurs, cut off any dead or decaying roots. 

Replant your Anthurium in a pot with drainage holes and use well draining potting soil. Only water your Anthurium once the top few inches of soil are completely dry to touch. 

Underwatering

Old leaves are most affected by underwatering which can become completely brown, crispy and fall off. Younger leaves and flowers can develop brown spots or margins. Additionally, the soil will feel bone-dry and the plant will wilt rapidly. 

If your Anthurium is underwatered, give it a drink as soon as possible. Ensure the soil is thoroughly soaked. It can be useful to follow a schedule, so you don’t forget to water your plant. 

Your Anthurium may be more susceptible to drought if it’s rootbound, if the soil is too well-draining or if it receives too much light or heat, so be sure to check these factors.  

Too Much Sunlight

Anthuriums are native to tropical rainforests and grow naturally beneath the shade of the canopy above. As such, they thrive best in dappled sunlight. Intense, direct sunlight can scorch the leaves, causing the edges to turn brown and crispy. 

To solve this issue, move your Anthurium to a location where it receives bright but indirect sunlight. Before you remove any sunburnt leaves, give your plant time to acclimatize and produce new leaf buds.  

Nutrient Deficiencies 

Nitrogen, potassium and phosphorous are essential for plant growth and development and a lack of any or all of these nutrients in the soil can cause necrosis, chlorosis, stunted growth and reduced blooming. 

Nutrient deficient Anthuriums will develop leaves with yellow and brown patches that will eventually drop. Moreover, new foliage will appear underdeveloped. 

If you suspect your Anthurium is suffering from a nutrient deficiency, it’s best to perform a soil test. This will inform you if the soil has a low concentration of any nutrients. 

To rectify and prevent nutrient deficiencies, feed your Anthurium during the growing season. Use a fertilizer that is rich in phosphorous. 

Fertilizer Burn

You can certainly have too much of a good thing when it comes to fertilizer. Overfertilizing can cause a buildup of salt in the soil, which can burn the roots. The leaves will develop dark brown tips and spots and whiteish powder will form on the topsoil. Additionally, the plants growth may be retarded. 

To correct overfertilization, you can flush the soil with plenty of water to dissolve and dilute excess salts. Alternatively, you may need to re-pot your plant using fresh potting soil. 

Refrain from feeding your plant until it’s back to normal. 

I recommend using a liquid fertilizer that can be diluted to half strength before giving it to your plant. Feed your Anthurium sparingly and never during the winter months. 

Cold Stress

In their native, tropical climates, Anthuriums are used to temperatures around 75oF. If temperatures drop below 60oF, your Anthurium can experience cold stress. This exhibits itself as yellow patches on the foliage which become brown. 

Prolonged cold stress will cause the browning to spread and the plant will stop growing and begin to droop. 

To save a Anthurium suffering from cold stress, move it to a warmer location. Avoid drafty areas such as near air conditioning vents. 

Pest Infestations

Strawberry foliar nematodes are microscopic roundworms that infect young Anthurium plants. Infection appears as stripes that run across the surface of the leaf alongside brown spots along the veins. 

The infection quickly spreads throughout the plant resulting in stunted growth, leaf browning and death. Unfortunately, you cannot cure an infected plant and should discard it to prevent healthy plants becoming infected. 

Sap-sucking pests such as aphids love to feed on Anthurium leaves. As they feed, they remove moisture and nutrients from the leaves, resulting in small, brown spots with yellow edges where the cells have died. 

To treat an infestation, spray your Anthurium with an insecticide. 

Age

Brown leaves are not always a cause for concern. As part of an Anthuriums life cycle, older leaves will first turn yellow and then brown before dropping. 

FAQ Why Are My Anthurium Leaves Turning Brown

Can brown or yellow Anthurium leaves turn green again?

Typically, yellow or brown leaves cannot be revived, even when the cause has been rectified. It’s best to prune off these damaged leaves and allow the plant to direct its energy into producing healthy, new foliage. Anthurium is one of the most toxic houseplants so take caution by wearing gloves and protecting the eyes and exposed skin when handling.

What diseases cause Anthurium leaves to turn brown?

Fungal diseases like leaf spot and root rot or bacterial blight and bacterial wilt, result in Anthurium leaf browning. 

Citations 

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Ben's horticultural interest grew when graduating from Hertfordshire University in 1997. Having contributed to numerous publications including Better Homes & Gardens, Garden Design Magazine, and The English Garden. He is also the author of Propagating Houseplants Made Easy.