What Causes Brown Edges On Leaves Of Plants?

In order to understand why leaves turn brown, it is necessary to know something about how leaves are made. When plants grow they produce new cells called chloroplasts which contain chlorophyll (the green pigment) and other substances such as sugars and proteins. These chemicals react with oxygen in the air to form carbohydrates and fats. Some of these compounds break down into carbon dioxide gas which is exhaled out by the plant. Other compounds remain in the cell, but become trapped inside the cells as fat or sugar molecules. Eventually some of these trapped molecules get released through pores called stomata. When the plant dies, its dead. But when leaves die, their outer layers—called the epidermis—become very thin and vulnerable to damage from sunlight. So if a leaf does not have enough protection against light, then it will eventually turn brown due to lack of oxygen.

How To Prevent Brown Edges On Leaves Of Plants?

To prevent brown edges on your plants, you need to protect them from sunburn. Sunburn happens when leaves are exposed to sunlight without any protection. Some plants, such as those in the cactus family, have evolved to protect themselves against sunburn. But for most plants, you need to apply a sunscreen to your plants so they do not suffer sunburn or turn brown. A common brand that works well is called Hoppes #9 Gun Oil. If it can protect a gun from rust and wear, then it can protect leaves from sunburn and browning. Just apply a thin layer to the leaves as needed.

How To Protect Leaves From Brown Edges?

To prevent brown edges on your plants, you need to prevent leaves from dying in the first place. The epidermis layer of leaves is very susceptible to damage from sunlight. To prevent this, you need to provide your plants with a physical barrier between the leaves and the sun. Common commercial sunscreens work well, such as Hoppes #9 Gun Oil. You also can fashion your own physical barrier using a thin layer of cotton, fabric, or even plastic wrap. This is best done during the hottest part of the day–usually early afternoon.

How To Treat Brown Edges?

To treat brown edges, you need to remove the dead tissue. First, sterilize a sharp knife by heating it over a flame (such as from a butane camping stove). Then use the hot blade to remove the dead cells. Be careful not to burn yourself! Rubbing alcohol can help sterilize the blade and prevent the spread of disease between plants. When finished trimming, apply a thin coating of suncreen to prevent re-deadening of the leaves.

Why Do Leaves Turn Yellow?

If you have a yellowing leaf, then there is not enough chlorophyll. Chlorophyll gives the leaf its green color. It also is essential in photosynthesis–the process by which plants manufacture their own food. Without chlorophyll, leaves turn yellow and die. Without dead leaves, the plant cannot make food and will die. The underlying cause for yellowing leaves varies. It could be due to a lack of nutrients, too much or too little water, root rot, or something more serious such as disease.

How To Prevent Yellowing Leaves?

To prevent yellow leaves, make sure the plant has enough nutrients, water, and adequate light. If you are growing the plant indoors under artificial lighting, then adjust the light bulbs to provide more light. Otherwise move the plant closer to a window. If the yellowing leaves are near the top of the plant, then the cause could be too much light. If the yellowing leaves are near the bottom, then the cause could be too little light.

How To Treat Yellowing Leaves?

To treat yellowing leaves, assess if the plant needs more or less water by poking your finger into the soil. If it feels dry a few inches down then provide more water by giving the plant a drink. If the soil is soggy then drain some of the water by carefully pouring it out. If the plant needs nutrients, use a fertilizer that has nitrogen. Fertilizers are often labeled with a number: the first number represents the number of nitrogen, followed by a series of numbers representing the amount of phosphorus and potassium. The numbers vary, but a ratio of 10-10-10 is a good starting point.

Why Do Leaves Have White Specks On Them?

If you have white specks on the underside of your leaves, it could be due to a fungal disease called powdery mildew. It starts from the bottom of the plant and slowly moves up as it kills each leaf. It cannot be wiped off–the only way to get rid of it is to get rid of the infected leaves.

How To Prevent White Specks?

Prevent white speck by keeping the plants well hydrated and providing plenty of airflow. Avoid sticking the plants in a closed off room because stagnant air allows fungal diseases to take hold.

How To Treat White Specks?

To treat white specks, remove and dispose of all infected leaves immediately. Then keep the remainder of the plant well hydrated and make sure there is plenty of airflow. Regularly check leaves for signs of white specks–if it returns then you will need to repeat the process.

Why Do Leaves Have Brown Or Black Spots?

If you have brown or black spots on your leaves, it could be due to a fungal or bacterial disease. It starts small but slowly spreads to other leaves. Brown spots are more common and easier to treat than black spots–both can be fatal if left untreated.

How To Prevent Brown Or Black Spots?

Prevent brown or black spots by keeping the plants well hydrated and provide plenty of airflow.

How To Treat Brown Or Black Spots?

To treat brown or black spots, first consider how old the spots are. If they are new and have not spread, then carefully wipe them off with a cloth or tissue. This is usually all that is required. If they are older then you will need to mix up a solution of one part milk and nine parts water. Let the mixture sit for at least an hour so the milk curdles. Then dip a Q-tip into the mixture and use it to dab at the brown or black spot. Continue until all the brown or black spots have been removed–then provide extra care for the plant as this treatment can be wearisome on the plant.

Why Are Leaves Curling Up?

If you have leaves curling up, it could be due to a fungal disease called leaf roll. It starts from the tip and works its way inwards until the whole leaf is rolled into itself. It spreads quickly if left untreated.

How To Prevent Leaf Roll?

To prevent leaf roll, keep leaves clean by wiping them down with a damp cloth or tissue on a regular basis. Avoid placing plants in drafty areas where sudden changes in temperature can cause leaves to curl up.

How To Treat Leaf Roll?

To treat leaf roll, remove all affected leaves as quickly as you can. Then sterilize pruning shears by dipping them in alcohol or holding them over a flame–this will prevent the spread of the disease as you trim away any infected parts. Cut out all the curled and rolled leaves until you reach healthy tissue. This will be difficult and time-consuming, so keep a bucket of water nearby to sterilize your shears after each cut.

Plants have a thousand different diseases and just as many different ways to treat them. The above guide only covers some of the most common ones–there are far too many to list.

Be observant and keep notes on how each plant responds to various treatments, this will help you quickly determine the best way to treat any new diseases in future.

Sources & references used in this article:

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Effects of light and temperature on symptom development and virus content of tobacco leaves inoculated with potato mop‐top virus by BD Harrison, RAC Jones – Annals of Applied Biology, 1971 – Wiley Online Library

Symptom of leaf injury and varietal difference to ozone in rice and soybean plant by JT Lee, JK Sohn – Korean Journal of Environmental Agriculture, 2000 – koreascience.or.kr

Native plants for coastal restoration: what, when, and how for Florida. by MJ Williams – 2007 – tamug-ir.tdl.org

Field validation of 1930s aerial photography: What are we missing? by DM Browning, SR Archer, AT Byrne – Journal of Arid Environments, 2009 – Elsevier

Plant disease diagnosis by MB Riley, MR Williamson, O Maloy – The Plant Health Instructor, 2002 – apsnet.org

What a plant knows: a field guide to the senses by D Chamovitz – 2012 – books.google.com

Lethal heat stress-dependent volatile emissions from tobacco leaves: what happens beyond the thermal edge? by S Turan, K Kask, A Kanagendran, S Li… – Journal of …, 2019 – academic.oup.com

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