corn plant leaves turning brown

Help! My Corn Plant Leaves Are Turning Brown

Are you starting to see brown tips on the leaves of your Corn Plant (Dracaena)? Or are your Corn plant leaves turning yellow? Wondering what is going on with your Corn Plant or Dracaena plant?  

Dracaena plants are supposed to be low maintenance, and easy to care for plants but to be honest, I always find dracaenas problematic. I know it is often considered a good beginner’s plant because Dracaenas can tolerate neglect and does not need frequent watering. In my opinion, dracaenas are not a good beginner plant because it is prone to brown leaf tips and leaves turning yellow.

5 Reasons Why Corn Plant Leaves are Turning Brown

There are several reasons why your Corn Plant leaves are turning yellow and brown. 

1. You are not Giving Your Dracaena Enough Water

One of the most common reasons why the leaves of your corn plant turned yellow and brown is that you are not watering it enough. You’ve probably heard that corn plants are drought tolerant, but that doesn’t mean you can let them go for a long period of time without watering. Your dracaena will suffer if you don’t give it enough water. 

I typically water my corn plant once a week or once every 2 weeks depending on the season. But I don’t follow a set watering schedule because the way I tell if it’s time to water my corn plant is by feeling the soil. I stick my finger in the soil 1 inch deep, if the soil feels dry then I know it’s time to water my corn plant. If the soil feels moist, I don’t water it. I wait for a few days or another week before checking again.

corn plant leaves turning brown
Corn plant leaves turning brown

2. Corn Plant Needs Humidity

Another reason why the leaves of your corn plant turned yellow and brown is if your indoor air is too dry. Dracaenas are humid-loving plants, dry indoor air will cause the leaves to turn brown. Fall and winter months usually mean dryer indoor air and not surprisingly, that is when I start to see brown tips on my corn plant.

Mist your corn plant with water. Use a handheld water mister. Do it a few times a week during the winter months, this should help keep the humidity high. You can also turn on the humidifier to increase humidity in your indoor space. I also like to wipe down the leaves of my corn plant with a wet microfiber cloth, it removes the dust accumulation but also provides a little moisture to your corn plant.

3. Corn Plant Sensitive to Flouride in Water

A third reason why the leaf tips of your corn plant have turned yellow and brown is that it is suffering from fluoride toxicity. Dracaenas are sensitive to fluoride in water. It’s highly likely that your tap water is fortified with fluoride. If that’s the case, don’t use tap water to water your corn plant, use distilled water or rainwater to water your corn plant.

4. Cold Draft

Corn plants are sensitive to fluctuations in temperature. It’s not happy in drafty locations where there is a wide temperature fluctuation. I learned this the hard way when I placed my corn plant in the foyer next to my front door. Every time we go in and out of the house, my dracaena is hit with a blast of cold winter air. Plus my kids are notorious for leaving the front door wide open and forgetting to close it, so that puts on additional stress on my beloved corn plant. Lo and behold, my corn plant leaves started turning yellow and brown from the stress! It got better after I moved it to a different room with a more consistent temperature.

Corn plant leaves turning yellow
Corn plant leaves turning brown

5. Overwatering Your Corn Plant

Overwatering your Dracaena can also cause drooping yellow leaves. Don’t get it confused with the crispy brown leaves that you see when corn plants are underwatered. The way to tell if you are overwatering your corn plant is to feel the soil. If it always feels moist, then you are probably overwatering your corn plant. You should be careful because overwatering can cause root rot which in my opinion, is a hopeless case. It’s difficult to save your plant when that happens. 

So what do you do if you have overwatered your dracaena? First, leave it alone and let it dry out, and put it in a spot that is a little sunnier (avoid direct sunlight). If after a week or so and the soil still feels moist, I recommend repotting your corn plant. Break up the soil with your fingers to loosen the roots before repotting it in fresh soil. I have also tried airing out my corn plant and leaving it out overnight before repotting. I’m not sure if this helped or if it just shocked my corn plant. For the record, my corn plant is alive and happy so maybe it worked!

Also, use this time to inspect the roots and smell your plant, if it has a foul odor, then it could be suffering from root rot. I suggest just throwing away your plant and starting fresh. 

In conclusion, corn plants are not the easiest plants to care for especially if you live in a place where you have dry indoor air and fluoride in your tap water. The biggest culprit is the dry indoor air. No matter how well you care for your corn plant if you don’t have the right humidity level for your corn plant, the leaves will turn brown. Trust me, I know from first hand experience- I’m always dealing with unsightly brown leaf tips on my corn plant!

Check out our Dracaena Plant Care Guides

Beginner’s Guide: How to Care for Corn Plant (Dracaena fragrant)

Beginner’s Guide: How to Care for your Dragon Tree (Dracaena marginata)