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Why are my umbrella plant leaves turning brown?

Wondering why your umbrella plant leaves are turning brown? Here are the top causes and the easiest solutions to get it healthy again!

Umbrella plants are notoriously easy houseplants to keep happy. In fact, my husband kept one in his windowless cubicle at work for many years.

However, even easy plants can have problems. It is not normal for umbrella plants to get brown leaves or have leaves fall off.

potted umbrella plant on a table

If the leaves of your umbrella plant are browning, now is the time to investigate the problem and determine a solution to keep it alive!

Let’s talk about what is most likely causing your umbrella plant to get brown leaves and how to fix it!

Printable Umbrella Plant care guide

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Umbrella Plant plant care guide
why is my umbrella plant getting brown leaves

Why are my umbrella plant leaves turning brown?

Umbrella plant leaves should be dark green and perky. If the leaves start turning yellow or brown, getting soggy or mushy or crispy, or falling off, there is a problem.

Here are some of the top problems with umbrella plants:

  • Overwatering
  • Underwatering
  • Temperature problems
  • Over fertilizing
  • Lighting problems
  • Potting issues

Brown leaves mean that your plant is abandoning some of the leaves to die. This could happen to very old leaves, but if it is happening to many leaves suddenly, your plant is in distress.

Here are the top causes and what to do about each one.

Watering issues

Watering can cause problems for your umbrella plant whether you are overwatering or under watering.

If the leaves appear withered and drooping, it is under watered.

If the leaves appear sagging and mushy, the plant is over watered.

How often do you water an umbrella plant?

Water your umbrella tree when the top 2 inches of soil feel dry to the touch.

Be sure that your pot has drainage holes to prevent water from pooling, which can lead to root rot and leaf drop and usually mushy, dark brown or black leaves.

How can you tell if an umbrella plant is overwatered?

Overwatered stems will look limp and mushy. Pull the plant out of the soil and examine the roots – if they are turning black and mushy, the plant is severely over watered and has root rot.

Should I mist my umbrella plant?

These plants don’t need to be misted, but they will tolerate it.

umbrella plant leaves

Temperature problems

Big changes in temperature can also cause houseplants to go into shock and drop leaves. These leaves could turn brown and crispy before falling off.

Keep them away from drafts and always keep indoors in the winter.

Over fertilization

Applying too much fertilizer can shock your plant, which can sometimes lead to leaves turning brown and falling off.

Lighting problems

If your umbrella tree gets too much direct sun, it could get sun burned and get brown leaves. This is more likely to be spots on each leaf rather than entire brown leaves.

Does an umbrella plant like sun or shade?

These plants do best in partial shade or indirect light. Direct sun will burn the leaves.

How much sunlight does an umbrella plant need?

Umbrella plants do best with at least 6-8 hours of bright, indirect light.

new growth on an umbrella plant

Potting issues

If your plant has outgrown it’s pot, it might start dropping leaves to conserve energy.

Do umbrella plants like to be root bound?

Umbrella plants will slow or stop growing when they become root bound. Eventually, it could even kill them. It’s much better to repot when needed.

Should I repot my umbrella plant?

In general you should re-pot once every year or two. Try to stick to repotting in the growing season – spring or summer.

Your plant might not need a larger pot, but could benefit from new nutrients in fresh soil. Gently pull it from the pot, knock off as much soil as possible, and repot in the same pot with fresh soil.

Any more questions about umbrella trees?

Thanks for reading!

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