burned spots on leaves

Dealing With Leaf Scorching and Tip Burn

The Spruce / Phoebe Cheong

Leaf-tip browning is an annoying condition that commonly affects certain types of houseplants. Spider plants, tropical plants, and those with long, strappy leaves are especially susceptible. The main difficulty when confronting leaf-tip burn is to remember that it’s a symptom of a larger problem (usually a cultural issue) as opposed to a condition in itself. So once your plant has burned leaf tips or margins, there’s no way to reverse the damage at that wounded location. The only thing to do is correct the underlying problem and hope the plant continues its healthy growth.

The other problem with a leaf-tip burn is figuring out which of the possible factors may be causing it. Is it the water? Your fertilizer habits? What about the humidity? You might not know right away, so the best idea is, to begin with, the most likely condition, change it to the extent possible, and wait to see what happens. If new growth is unaffected or the scorching stops, you’ve figured it out. If it continues, then move on to the next condition and work on that.

Ideally, you’ll catch leaf-tip burn early enough that the plant’s appearance won’t be completely ruined.

These are the factors that can potentially cause leaf-tip burn:

Watering Issues

Leaf scorching can be a sign of erratic or insufficient watering or low humidity.   It is especially true for tropical plants, which dislike the parched conditions in most centrally heated homes in the winter. These plants are evolved to luxuriate in humidity levels that range between 60 and 100 percent in their rainforest homes. A wintertime home can easily go to 20 percent humidity, which can cause leaf scorching. The solution is to raise the humidity—mist the plants, use a pebble tray, or relocate the plant to an area with higher humidity such as the kitchen or bathroom. Also, remember that plants with strappy leaves have a greater challenge to move water from the roots to the ends of the leaves, so these plants are likely to show leaf-tip scorching faster than plants with shorter leaves. Finally, if you suspect your water is highly alkaline (a pH above seven), consider finding a more neutral water source. Plants prefer a slightly acidic environment.

Fertilizer Issues

Fertilizer salts can cause leaf scorching, especially if large doses are fertilizer are applied.   If you notice scorching on your plants shortly after feeding a heavy dose of fertilizer, it might be a problem with your fertilizer. Flush the soil with clean water several times to remove accumulated fertilizer salts and be more careful in the future.

Cold Damage

Closely related to water stress, many houseplants aren’t acclimated to cold, drafty conditions (by a winter window, for instance). Cold damage often shows up in the extremities first, meaning the leaf margins and leaf tips. If your tropical plants suffer from leaf scorching during the winter months, try to raise the temperature (and humidity, most likely) around them.

Sun Damage

Sun damage usually shows up as yellowing of the whole leaf or even scorched spots on the leaves.   Nevertheless, if your plant has recently been subjected to a change of direct light it’s receiving, this could be the culprit. Having plant leaves against a window can also cause leaf scorching due to the window’s ability to magnify and radiate heat.

Chemical Damage

Chemical damage is less likely to result in leaf scorching, but it’s possible. Household pesticides and cleaning chemicals can burn plants in some cases, so be aware of what you’re using on your plants.

Ultimately, a leaf-tip burn is almost always a cultural problem—fungal and bacterial diseases are typically more widespread across the leaf surface and usually involve the stem as well. So the best way to correct leaf-tip burn and margin scorching is to ask what cultural conditions might be causing the condition, then making an effort to fix them.

Leaf-tip browning is an annoying condition that commonly affects certain types of houseplants. Find out the cause and how to prevent it.

What Do Burnt Spots on Tomato Leaves Look Like?

Related Articles

Tomatoes (Solanum lycopersicum) are an easy-to-grow, annual plant. With proper cultural care, this heavy-feeding crop produces tender green leaves and juicy fruits. However, under certain stresses, you may notice yellow to brown spots on your tomato leaves, an indication of burning. Identifying burned spots on tomato leaves, as well as the cause is the key to implementing the proper remedy.

Over-Fertilization and Fertilizer Burn

While it is important to fertilize your plants so they receive adequate minerals and nutrients, you don’t want to overdo it. Burned spots on tomato plant leaves as a result of too much fertilizer or improper fertilizing practices appear as scorching that begins at the edges of the leaves. The leaf edges look dried out, brown and brittle.

Haifa recommends preparing the soil with a balanced fertilizer prior to planting and following up with a monthly side-dressing of nitrogen is enough to provide adequate nutrition for your tomato plants. To avoid root injuries that lead to leaf burn, do not allow fertilizers to come in direct contact with the plant’s stem or roots. Apply fertilizers and side-dressing materials with 4 to 6 inches of space from the plant’s stem, watering thoroughly following the application.

Problems With Poor Nutrition

A deficiency in nutrition, particularly of potassium, causes burning in tomato leaves. Also referred to as marginal necrosis, potassium deficiencies present themselves as yellowing of the plant’s leaf margins. As the nutrient deficiency continues to progress, this yellow color begins to turn brown, moving outward toward the leaf edges, until the entire leaf appears brown and leathery in texture. In the most progressed stages of this deficiency, the leaves begin to dry up, shrivel and fall off the plant.

Preparing the soil with a balanced organic 3-4-4 or 3-4-3 plant food prior to planting your tomatoes is the best way to ensure that your crop gets the potassium and other nutrients it needs for healthy growth. Apply your organic plant food at the rate of 75 pounds per 1,000 square feet. Because tomatoes are a heavy feeder of nitrogen, a monthly application of an organic side-dressing, such as blood meal, keeps your plants fed and vigorous. Apply blood meal at the rate of 2 1/2 pounds per 100 feet of planting rows.

Too Much or Too Little Water

Tomato plants require soil that is consistently and evenly moist to the touch throughout the growing season. Dry soil or overly wet soil leads to leaf problems, such as burning or scorch. Moisture problems that lead to burning start as browning of the leaf tips and margins, which eventually leads to curling, wilting leaves that drop off your tomato plants.

Prevent leaf burn and leaf scorch due to improper watering practices by ensuring that your plant receives adequate moisture. A weekly deep watering, in which the soil is saturated 6 to 8 inches in depth, is best for healthy, vigorous tomato plants. In mild coastal climates with high rainfall, it is unlikely that you would need to provide supplemental watering for your tomato plants, unless there is a dry spell.

Preventing Sunburn Damage

Tomatoes are a sun-loving plant that requires between 6 and 8 hours of full, direct sunlight per day, says Texas A&M AgriLife Extension. However, loss of vigor and problems with pests and diseases have the potential to make your plants sensitive to burning from the sun. This is particularly the case if your plant has experienced defoliation as the result of attack from insect pests or diseases, as leaf loss leads to sunburn on new growth. Sunburned tomato plants develop light to white patches on the upper portions of the leaves. Keeping your tomato plants vigorous with proper cultural care and practices is the best way to avoid pests, diseases and sun-scorched leaves.

Additionally, young tomato seedlings are also in danger of sunburn upon transplant. Avoid seedling sunburn by allowing your young plants to slowly adjust to their environment. Provide some filtered shade for your seedlings during the hottest part of the day for the first three to four days after transplanting seedlings outdoors.

What Do Burnt Spots on Tomato Leaves Look Like?. Tomatoes (Solanum lycopersicum) are an easy-to-grow, annual plant. With proper cultural care, this heavy-feeding crop produces tender green leaves and juicy fruits. However, under certain stresses, you may notice yellow to brown spots on your tomato leaves, an …