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This Is Why Your Houseplants Are Turning Brown, According to a Plant Expert

Ahh, houseplants. Some people have a natural knack for caring to their green companions and keeping them thriving, and some of us are still learning, to say the least. We think that indoor plants and fresh flowers are the key to a happy and uplifting home, but there are a few things to consider before going out and purchasing your very own oasis—is my apartment sunny enough? What type of pots should I buy? And, am I overwatering my plants? All valid questions and so we turned to Sydney-based florist, plant expert and co-author of Leaf Supply and Indoor Jungle Sophia Kaplan to guide us through the world of plant parenthood.

Top houseplants

To begin with, you'll need to do some research on the type of plants you'd like to own. We asked Sophia what her absolute favourite houseplants were, to which she replied: "my top three would probably be Monstera deliciosa (Swiss cheese vine), Epipremnum aureum (Devil’s ivy) and Hoya (Wax plant)". These three plants are amongst her faves because they like bright, indirect sunlight, a moderate amount of water and best of all, "will handle a little bit of neglect".


We wanted to find out from Sophia whether you can water all of your plants at the same time each week to save time, and the answer was sort of. Sophia explains that she usually checks in with her plants "at least once a week". She adds that "generally speaking, most common indoor plants, in average-sized pots, will be happy with a good soak once a week". You'll still need to check your plant's specific tolerance for watering and stick your finger in the soil to see if it's dry before watering. There's nothing worse than a soggy houseplant!

Brown leaves

Now to the question we're all here for— what does it mean if my plants are turning brown? "If the tips of the leaves are crispy brown it’s probably under-watered and suffering from a lack of humidity". Sophia recommends returning to a regular watering cycle for any plants that have suffered from browning and reminds us not to forget to mist the leaves as well. If the tips of your houseplant are yellow-brown, then that's a different story. According to Sophia, "this could be a sign of too much fertiliser". Her recommendation is to "always fertilise indoor plants with a diluted liquid fertiliser and remember that it shouldn’t need fertiliser for six-to-twelve months after being purchased.


We've covered the types of plants that thrive indoors, watering and fertiliser, so the next question we wanted to get Sophia's advice on was sunlight—specifically what to do when your apartment doesn't have a lot of natural light. She explains that "all plants need light to survive, it’s a vital part of the photosynthesis process". But don't worry, Sophia also adds that indoor plants generally like bright, indirect light so you don't have to worry if your home isn't flooded with sunlight at all times. If you've got a window, you can keep a houseplant. Sophia's recommendations for plants to own if you're low on light include the Zamioculus zalmiofolia (Zanzibar em), Spathiphyllum (Peace lily) or Epipremnum aureum (Devil’s ivy).

Lastly, we wanted to dig inside Sophia's extensive plant knowledge to uncover her top houseplant tip, and she told us that "the number one killer of houseplants is over-watering". So, there you have it—there are no excuses not to fill your home with calm-inducing houseplants and absolutely no excuses for brown plants!

Find more about Sophia by following her on Instagram or her website.

Now, take a peek inside Sophia's plant-filled Annandale home.

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