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Why are my polka dot plant leaves turning brown?

Are your polka dot plant leaves turning brown? Our guide offers simple, effective care tips to bring back the beauty of your plant!

The polka dot plant is one of the best plants you can keep in your home.

Polka dot plant care is low-maintenance, extremely durable, and it looks amazing – sprucing up every room you put it in.

But, after keeping it for a while, you notice something is off.

The leaves that seemed so healthy and strong were suddenly brittle, dry, and crispy.

If your polka dot plant’s leaves are turning brown, it is time to sound the alarm!

Having a polka dot plant with brown tips can make you feel frustrated, so even if you are a beginner gardener or just dabbling in the subject, pay close attention.

There are many reasons why you should check your plant for crispy leaves.

Today, learn why that happens and how you can fix it yourself.

A few common causes contribute to polka dot plant leaves turning brown.

These include:

  1. Underwatering the plant
  2. Extreme heat
  3. Insects
  4. Poor tap water
  5. Fertilizer issues

Let’s elaborate on all of them below so you won’t have to deal with this issue in the future!

polka dot plant leaves turning brown

5 Reasons why polka dot plant leaves turning brown

Underwatering the plant

Have you noticed that your polka dot plant leaves have started browning and drying up? It is because of dehydration.

That is one clear and unmistakable sign of it.

The issue here is that you probably allow the entire pot soil to dry out completely.

Underwatering your plant is a common issue, especially during the warmer months.

It is okay to have a difficult time crafting the perfect watering schedule for all your plants, but you should not give up on this one!

Evaporation happens at a faster rate, so all you need to do is become more frequent with your watering schedule.

Remember only to do this during the summer months, as the plant will probably not need it as much in the winter months.

red polka dot plant

Extreme heat

No plant is safe from extreme heat, but there is still something you can do to make your plants less prone to heat issues.

If you have consistently been putting your plant next to your fireplace, heating vent, or radiator, no wonder the polka dot plant leaves have started dying.

Even if you put your plant on a west or south-facing window, you can still damage the plant.

Due to the extreme heat, the moisture evaporates fast, leaving the plant looking sunburnt and scorched.

The leaves will become flaky and brittle.

The first and most important thing you can do for your polka dot plant with browning leaves is move it as far away from the heat source as possible.

Don’t place it near any fireplaces, heaters, air vents, radiators, or any other heat source.

Remove it from direct sunlight, and start misting the leaves frequently.


When the insects attack your plant, there is no way for you to know at first – they are usually very small, they tend to hide on the back side of the leaves, and they suck on the sap from the stem, slowly sucking out the life of the plant.

We know – we haven’t painted a pretty picture here, but one of the signs that insects have attacked your polka dot plant is the direct leaf damage by the bugs.

With that, this is probably why your polka dot plant’s leaves have started turning brown.

If you are lucky enough to detect the insects on your plant sooner rather than later, then you will have no issue dealing with the entire situation.

Inspect the entire plant if you notice the leaves turning brown, and if you notice the bugs, start to pick them out one by one (the larger ones).

Then, shower your plant with a lot of water, and then use neem oil and/or rubbing alcohol for a few days to remove those pesky little insects completely.

polka dot plant cutting in a test tube of water

Poor tap water

Did you know that some specific minerals found in tap water, as well as fluoride and chlorine, are toxic to the polka dot plant?

This is considered to be one of the most common causes of crispy and brown leaves on the plant.

The brown spots that have a paper-like appearance or severely damaged brown leaves are the reaction of adding too much tap water to your plant.

Stop watering your plant directly from the faucet.

Instead, allow the tap water to sit overnight so the toxic particles evaporate.

As an alternative, you can use a water filtration system, distilled water, or rainwater.

Also, keep in mind that the polka dot plants are sensitive to both cold and hot water – so make sure the one you’re adding to the soil is right there in the middle (lukewarm).

polka dot plant in a pot

Fertilizer issues

Last but not least, the cause of polka dot plant leaves browning may mean that you have added too much fertilizer to it.

This is okay to a certain extent – and we know that you are doing it with the good intention of keeping the foliage healthy and happy.

But, too much fertilizer is toxic to the leaves and the roots.

You will notice that your plant has had more than enough by seeing brown spots or brown tips on the leaves.

The answer to this one is – you guessed it – less fertilizer!

As soon as you notice that the leaves are turning brown and you have inspected your plant for any of the other issues we’ve mentioned here, then simply stop fertilizing.

  • Take out your greenery and wash it thoroughly with water.
  • Get a fresh pot with some new soil and repot the plant. That will give your polka dot the fresh breath of air it needs so much.
  • Also, refrain from fertilizing your plant for at least half a year.

Before you go…

Now that you have the answer to the question of why your polka dot plant leaves are turning brown and what you can do to save them, you can enjoy a healthy and happy shrub in the comfort of your home.

Did you like this subject? There is more where that came from – keep on reading our latest blog posts!

Thanks for reading!

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