Calathea Leaves Turning Brown

If you are taking care of a calathea plant for the very first time, you may be alarmed when the edges turn brown. Plants use various techniques to express themselves, and brown spots are one of them.

Calathea is one of the most loved plants, but it is extremely sensitive to its environment. In fact, calatheas thrive only when it gets the right balance of light and moisture. Many calathea owners often witness dry ends with brown spots.

Most house plants will develop brown spots or crispy leaves at some point in their life. If you wish to reduce the issues of crispy or curled up leaves and brown spots, then read on to know more.

Why Are My Calathea Leaves Turning Brown?

There are many reasons why calathea leaves turn brown, but the most common reason is because the plant is placed too close to any air vent or heater. Firstly, low humidity in its soil or environment can make the calathea leaves turn brown and curled up. Overwatering can also damage your calathea plants by damaging the roots, although it’s important to water your calathea once or twice a week.

Lack of Humidity

If your room has humidity equal to or less than 55%, your calathea is not going to like it. Calathea plants can’t thrive in an environment that is low in humidity. However, it doesn’t mean that calathea plants are a sucker for extremely humid places.

If your place lacks adequate humidity, it will be best to get yourself a humidifier. Most plant owners recommend buying a humidifier to create a comfortable growing environment for the calathea plants. Humidifiers come with a cool and warm mist and have a large tank.

Misting may not be enough to save your calathea from crispy tips and brown spots. However, if your room has moderate humidity levels, misting may provide some relief.

The extent of brown spots depends on the condition, size, and species of your calathea. Small calathea are generally more affected by suboptimal conditions where the larger ones are fairly less sensitive. If you have a smaller calathea plant, you must get yourself a humidifier.

Cold Water

Calathea plants don’t like the feel of cold water. You must use room temperature water to prevent the appearance of brown spots. You must not also use boiling water to water your calathea. Keep a water tub in your house at room temperature.

Boiling water or cold water can harm your plant equally. The origin of calathea plants is the tropical rainforests that are known to have warm groundwater. Cold water can cause a reaction similar to shock at the roots of your calathea plants.

Less established and smaller calathea plants are more sensitive to cold water and will instantly develop brown spots.

If you live in cold areas, you can warm up the water a bit before applying it to your calathea plants. Your plant will develop odd brown spots even if you accidentally use cold water for a single day.

Large calathea plants can adapt to cold water in some cases. However, it is still advised to use room temperature water to protect your calathea from getting curled up.

Tap Water

Calathea plants come from the rainforests, where the weather is damp and humid with plenty of water. These plants are extremely picky about the environment and water quality.

Plants having their origin in the arid areas can grow effectively in all conditions. You can use tap water or filtered water. Such plants can’t afford to be choosy with water quality.

Calathea plants will get brown spots if you use tap water to water them. Tap water contains fluoride, minerals, salts, and chlorine, which will cause build-up.

The tips of your calathea plants can turn brown, curl up, or burn due to chemical build-up in the soil. If you want to save a calathea from turning brown, you must avoid tap water.

Rainwater is the best for calathea plants. However, you may not always find rainwater for your calathea plants. The second option can be to use aquarium water as the calathea seems to be happy with them.

But why aquarium water? Aquarium water is nothing but the dechlorinated version of your tap water. You can easily buy some dechlorinator used in fish tanks and simply add it to your water.

Calathea hates not only the mineral composition of tap water but also the chemicals. However, you must never use water softeners to water your plants. Not only calathea, but all plants will die if you use water softeners on them.

Many people leave their water out in the sun for a couple of days. When the water sits outside in the sun, the chlorine will evaporate up to some levels.

However, sometimes it may not be enough for your calathea plants. You can also get a water filter to remove the excess chlorine from your tap water.

Excessive Sun Exposure

Too much sunlight can cause your calathea to develop brown spots and get crisped up. You can keep them in the dark corner and allow them a few hours of light every day.

Calathea plants prefer low light to balance all aspects of their life. If you have an extremely humid environment with a perfect watering schedule, your Calathea may survive in a bright atmosphere.

If you want to keep your calathea plant moist and free from brown spots, you must protect it from excessive exposure to the sun.

You must constantly check whether the soil is damp enough to prevent the development of brown spots.

Spider Mites

Spider mites generally hate humid environments, but they are excessively fond of thin leaves. If you witness some brown spots on your calathea leaves, you must dampen a paper towel.

Rub the towel on the underside of the calathea leaves and check for an orange or brown residue. If you find one, it is a symptom of pests.

Spider mites generally come with a long life, which makes it difficult to get rid of them. You can shower the calathea plant to remove the spider bulk quickly.

Mix a drop of neem oil and Castile soap in water to effectively kill the spider mites. Keep a close watch on your plants, and use the spray every two to three days for a couple of weeks.

Spider mites can also make the purple tint come away from the underside of your leaves. You must always keep your calathea free of spider mites as they can slowly kill your plants.

Dry Soil

Your calathea will like only moist and damp soil. Make sure that you are not under or overwatering your plants.

Maintain a consistent water schedule for your calathea and check whether the soil is becoming extremely dry. Allow your plant adequate moisture to prevent itself from getting dry and crisp.


Make sure that your calathea plant is not placed in a drafty region. It should also be placed away from cooling and heating vents. Leaves will turn brown and curl up if the airflow is excessively dry and cold.

How to Stop Calathea Leaves Turning Brown?

The first step is to clean up your calathea plant. Start by removing the leaves that have turned completely brown. Run alcohol on your scissor blades before using it to trim the brown leaves.  After identifying the reasons, the next step is to quickly hit the road to faster recovery. Follow the tips in this guide to keep your calathea healthy and free from brown leaves.


Chances are, your calathea leaves are brown and crispy due to a lack of adequate humidity. Get a humidifier if you want your calathea to grow peacefully. However, if you want to approach the misting method, you have to do it daily.

You must always use filtered or rainwater to prevent the chances of brown spots. You must avoid tap water at all costs. You can get yourself an aquarium dechlorinator to keep your calathea safe. Oh, and make sure to keep your calathea away from any hot radiators or heaters.