Haworthias are native to southern Africa. Like other succulents, browning in Haworthia is very discouraging. This problem needs a quick solution. Otherwise, slowly the whole plant will turn brown and lose its color.
The reasons behind Haworthia turning brown are sunburn, improper watering, strong air currents, low humidity, fertilizer burn, and temperature fluctuations. The best way to avoid these is to check the plant’s condition daily, identify the signs, and treat them quickly.
In today’s article, we will discuss the probable reasons behind the browning of Haworthia and how we can solve the problem and prevent it.
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Identifying browning in Haworthia
When your Haworthia experiences issues related to light, water, temperature, or infections, they will display some signs on their foliage.
Browning is one of them.
There are different patterns of browning – browning at tips and edges, brown spots all over, and whole leaf turning brown.
Sometimes, each pattern indicates one single problem.
Sometimes, one pattern could be the reason for many problems.
For example, browning at the tips could be the reason for both underwatering and strong air currents.
Check the leaves first to identify the problem, as the foliage is the first to display signs.
Why are my Haworthias turning brown?
Haworthias might be turning brown due to any of the following reasons.
Generally, Haworthia can tolerate direct sunlight, but they prefer growing under bright indirect sunlight.
This feature of this succulent makes them ideal for indoors too.
Direct sun can bleach and dry out the leaf tips.
First, they will turn white or red.
Then the leaves will have brown marks at the tips and, gradually, all over the foliage due to burning.
It happens when Haworthias are suddenly kept under a sunny area for a long time.
The young plants experience more problems.
However, it is not a life threat.
With care and location adjustment, the scars will slowly start to disappear.
But the leaves will fall off, and new leaves will grow.
How do I prevent sunburn?
Try out these to protect your Haworthia from sunburn:
- Transplant Haworthias to a shady spot, for example, surrounded by a few tall trees. They can block the direct sun, and the rays will penetrate through them and reach Haworthia.
- Fix shading cloth or nets to filter the sunlight if you place them under an all-time sunny spot.
- To make your plant adapted to direct sunlight, do it gradually. First, let them have direct sun for one hour. Gradually increase it to two hours, then three and so on.
- Do not let the young and recently repotted plants receive direct sun. Some people grow Haworthia in pots indoors. Instead of taking them indoors, try shading nets.
Haworthia is a succulent that stores water in its leaves.
They need water when the soil turns completely dry.
Most people, especially beginners, will make mistakes at it.
They will either overwater the plant or underwater it.
Some people think that because Haworthia is succulent, they can store water, and thus they will stay without water for months.
That’s not true. Eventually, they will need watering every 2-3 weeks.
Some people are unaware of their feature of storing water in the leaves, and they water them frequently.
Haworthias are meant to experience a dry condition.
If they fail to receive it and constantly stay damp, it will result in overwatering.
This will further lead to root rot.
How to solve the watering issues?
Follow these to water your Haworthia correctly.
- You must water Haworthia once every 2-3 weeks.
- Check the moisture before watering. When the soil dries out completely, or 1-2 inches of the soil dries, Haworthia is ready for watering.
- If the plant shows signs of overwatering, stop watering and wait for the plant’s reaction to it.
- Let the soil dry out between watering.
- If the plant is underwatered, thoroughly give it a good drink unless the soil is well damped and excess water drains out.
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Due to excessive water absorption, the foliage form some brown bumps or blisters.
It is common during the summers because most people are unaware of their summer dormancy.
The plant doesn’t consume water to that extent during its dormancy.
The plant switches off its growth mode and rest.
That is why they don’t need water.
Watering them during the summer will lead to overwatering, rotting, and fungal diseases.
There is no specific solution except to stop watering.
Whenever you see such signs, stop watering.
However, brown bumps could also be signs of pest infestation like scales.
Double-check the plant to confirm the problem.
Overwatering and poor drainage are responsible for root rot.
I have mentioned in the earlier point the roots must dry out between watering for proper functioning.
When the soil stays damp for too long, the roots start rotting.
Gradually, the leaves turn brown and mushy.
If you leave the plant without treatment, it will develop fungal diseases, causing the death of the plant.
Along with that, low light will also slow down the drying of the soil.
I have already discussed what to do with the wrong watering.
How to treat root rot?
If you identify root rot at the beginning, treatment will be easier, and the plant will bounce back quickly.
Water with the correct frequency and use well-drained soil to avoid root rot.
Also, if you are using containers, ensure it has drainage holes.
If the plant has a few brown spots, don’t cut them.
Once you correct watering or drainage, the plant will be normal.
Let the plant have 2-3 hours of direct morning sun and filtered sun all day.
If the damage is severe, take the plant out, remove the damaged leaves and roots and plant them in a dry location with well-drained soil.
Within 2-3 weeks, the plant will recover.
Once the plant revives back, start normal watering again.
Well-drained soil and a pot with drainage holes are important to improve drainage.
Select a pot with drainage holes if you have grown Haworthias in a pot.
If excess water doesn’t drain out of the holes, it will stay still in the root portion and damage them.
Poor drainage leads to overwatering and root rot.
How to improve drainage?
If the soil doesn’t support proper drainage, change it or add porous ingredients.
Gritty materials like gravel, coarse sand, pumice, perlite, scoria, and coir support good drainage and refreshed soil.
You can also use cactus and succulent potting mix for your potted Haworthias.
If the problem is in the pot, use a pot with drainage holes.
If you don’t want to hurt the design of a decorative pot, use a cachepot with drainage holes and place it inside the decorative one.
When it is the watering time, take the cachepot out, water the plant, wait until the excess water drains, and put it back.
Some ideal soil mixes for proper drainage are:
Equal parts of:
Micronutrients are essential for the plant besides the three macronutrients (nitrogen, phosphorus, and potassium).
Haworthias require iron and manganese to produce chlorophyll.
Lack of these two nutrients results in chlorophyll deficiency and low food levels.
Due to less chlorophyll production, the plant will suffer chlorosis and browning.
Except this, lack of other nutrients also causes browning.
Only soil alone cannot provide the plant with all its nutrients.
You need to fertilize them separately.
How to increase the nutrient supply?
Fertilize Haworthia once during the spring and fall.
As it is their growing season, they will utilize all the nutrients and grow readily.
If you don’t want to fertilize them separately, use commercial soil combined with fertilizers.
Change the soil every 2-3 years to restock the nutrients and refresh the plant’s growing conditions.
Use fertilizers that contain all the nutrients Haworthia needs.
If your current fertilizer lacks any essential nutrients, you have to re-apply another fertilizer with the missing nutrients.
Fertilizing Haworthia to prevent them from browning is good.
But you must also take care about the frequency and amount.
Over-fertilization can cause salt burn, resulting in brown leaves.
They contain a high quantity of various salts.
These will absorb all the water and dehydrate the plant.
When the salt level of the soil due to over-fertilization increases more than that of the plant, it causes reverse osmosis, causing intense chemical burns.
Some signs of over-fertilization are:
- A layer of fertilizer over the soil.
- Yellow leaves.
- The roots will be dark due to burns.
- The tips and edges of the foliage will be brown.
- The plant will have stunted growth.
How to treat over-fertilization?
You can revive your overfertilized Haworthia:
- You can remove 1-2 inches of the topsoil and add new soil.
- It will stop the salt from reaching the roots and save from burning them.
- Flush the soil very well once a month if they are in a container.
- Remove the brown leaves from the plant. They won’t turn back green. Don’t worry because the plant will grow new leaves.
Don’t fertilize if you are unsure. First, know the right process, frequency, and amount of fertilization, and then go for it.
Follow our fertilizer article for more info.
Low humidity levels
Haworthias don’t need very high humidity.
But extremely low humidity will stress the plant.
Generally, they need 25-40% of humidity for good growth.
If your region is fine in humidity, you can worry less about it.
Due to low humidity levels, the air around dries quickly.
The plant will lose more moisture and reduce the transpiration rate.
As a result, the leaves won’t have enough water to hold in their cells, causing dryness and browning.
Underwatering and low humidity are closely related because both cause loss of moisture.
How to increase the humidity?
The only way to treat a plant that is not getting enough humidity is by raising it.
- If you live in a low humid area, you have to increase humidity at the level of 50-60%.
- You can mist the plants.
- Keep them over pebble trays filled with water if your Haworthias are planted in pots.
- If the plants are in the ground, place some potted plants near them to increase the humidity. Also, take care of ventilation.
- Keep some water trays around the plant if they are outside in the ground.
- You can plant some tall companions so that the water can drip and fall over Haworthias.
- For an indoor setup, use humidifiers. Don’t increase the humidity too much; else, they will experience rotting and fungal issues.
Also read: Do Haworthia Like Humidity? (Misting & More)
Pests and bugs will not bother Haworthias much.
But, if they are under certain conditions, like prolonged dampness, a hot and humid environment, or a dry environment, bugs will attack and interrupt the plant’s smooth growth.
Spider mites, mealybugs, or thrips are some common culprits.
They suck out the plant sap, making it weak, brown, and susceptible to diseases.
How to get rid of pests?
One of the best organic solutions is neem oil.
Mix a few tablespoons of neem oil with water and spray it on the infected areas.
Don’t expose the plant to direct sunlight after applying this oil.
It can burn the foliage. Do it during the night.
Other than this, there are insecticidal soaps available.
Some pests like mealybugs have a white wax that protects them from pesticides.
Dabbing a cotton ball dipped with rubbing alcohol will not only weaken their shield but will also kill them.
If the infestation is large, use chemical pesticides to treat them.
Haworthias grow under shrubs or grasses over rocky regions.
Open space and no trees around can give the plant air currents, resulting in browning.
For indoor setup, it will occur when you put your plant too near air conditioners or heaters.
Excessive air currents can make the plant lose moisture faster, resulting in brown tips.
How to solve the issue?
Choose a place in your garden where some trees or plants are present to protect the Haworthias from such air currents.
It will also protect them from direct sunlight. It shouldn’t be too close, however.
For indoors, keep them away from AC or heater rooms.
Keep them near an open window through which light cool breeze penetrates.
Fungal infections like rust, southern blight, botrytis blight, and powdery mildew can turn the leaves brown along with yellow or orange rings or haloes.
In Powdery Mildew, the leaves will first have a powdery white look, and slowly, they will turn brown.
The white spots make it easier to recognize the real issue.
It also results in stunted growth and no photosynthesis.
Southern Blight is a kind of root rot.
The leaves will first turn yellow and then brown.
If you don’t treat them, it will slowly affect the plant’s roots that could be fatal.
You will find brown spots on the leaves and black spots on the flower petals.
The disease is named Botrytis Blight.
As the disease progresses, the leaves decay, they develop mold in the affected areas.
Another disease is named Rust.
First, you will find white spots underneath the leaves and around the stems.
Over time, if left untreated, these spots will progress to brown spots and then black.
How to get rid of fungal diseases?
Treat the fungal diseases as soon as you notice them.
- The most important thing is isolating the plant and removing the affected leaves.
- Spray neem oil. Ensure not to expose the plant to direct sun while spraying neem oil. It could burn the leaves. Dilute it with some soap and water.
- You can use copper-based fungicides. It will help to fight mildew. Reapply after every 7-10 days until the problem is resolved.
- Mix 1 cup of baking soda, ½ teaspoon of liquid soap, and 1-gallon water. Mix and spray on the Haworthia.
- Keep the surrounding area of the plants clean and tidy.
- Southern blight is a soil-borne disease, so ensure the soil’s sterility. If your plant is a container one, sterilize the soil in a microwave.
Try to take precautions before the diseases begin to spread.
Otherwise, it would not be easy to control them if they spread too much.
If your plant is completely fine and free from all types of problems discussed until now, the only reason is aging.
Some leaves will age, turn brown, and slowly fall off the plant.
But don’t you worry. They will also grow new leaves.
Most probably, the bottom leaves will age first.
When you see the browning, first inspect if the plant has any problems.
If not, try to peel the leaves slowly, and they will easily come off.
This is not a problem, and there is no solution for it.
Basic care tips for Haworthia
- Let Haworthias have 3-4 hours of the direct morning sun. Other times, let them have filtered light.
- Water only when the soil gets dry. Water carefully in the summers and winters.
- Fertilize little only during the spring and fall. Ignore if you are unsure. Avoid during summers and winters.
- Repot or change the soil every 2-3 years to restock their nutrients and replenish the soil.
- Use well-drained porous soil. Use the recommended soil mixes for proper drainage.
- Don’t plant them near any open space. Ensure there are some trees or plants at some distance.
- Check for signs of pests and diseases and treat immediately after spotting one.
- Don’t expose them to very cold temperatures. Though Haworthias don’t need very high humidity, 25-40/50% of humidity is needed.
- Use a container depending on the plant’s size and ensure it has drainage holes.
Haworthias are sensitive to excessive light, water, cold, and fertilizer. I have already discussed what should be done if the plant faces any problems. Go through them thoroughly. The soil must be well-drained.
These are the main things. Other than that, check for pests and diseases and fix the problems as suggested. Use the right container size. Don’t use a very small or big pot.
Rootbound due to small pot can also lead to browning. A big pot will need more soil which takes more time to dry, resulting in prolonged wet roots. Follow the quick care tips I mentioned to prevent browning.