Preventing brown tips – does it actually work? – House Plant Journal

Preventing brown tips – does it actually work?

Plant Parent

I’ve read that brown leaf edges/tips could be due to sensitivity to chlorine or fluoride in tap water.

It seems as though it happens in leaves that are long and slender (like spider plants, mass cane, dracaenas)? So, it’s usually suggested to let tap water sit out for a day to let those minerals evaporate. I just wanted to ask if this really works.

How about filtered water or distilled water? How are those different and will those also solve the problem of brown leaf tips?

Would one of these methods (1. letting tap water sit out for a day 2. filtered water 3. distilled water) be superior?

Thanks again! I appreciate all your help and knowledge!


Modern chlorination methods use a non-volatile form of chlorine, which means letting water sit out overnight does nothing.

“Minerals” are solids and don’t technically evaporate at room temperature.

Here’s my stance on this, and it is purely a personal approach: I use tap water directly from the tap (I try to get it to room temperature, not ice cold) and more importantly, I DON’T see browned tips problems, or quite frankly, something that can be avoided. I’ve written several posts about my mindset around this here:

Older leaves bear the marks of hard work: months of (hopefully) steady photosynthesis, transpiration, and gas exchange. Mineral accumulation and plain old physical damage cause the cells at the very tips to give out.

~ Source:

Older leaves WILL yellow and die as new ones grow; tips WILL eventually become brown.

~ Source:

Traditional houseplant care is heavily focused on looking at visible plant imperfections and suggesting some change in your care routine. This perspective gives the impression that any and all signs of decay are “bad things”, which are preventable and correctable.


Perfectionism will ruin your plant care experience.

Plant Parent

Thank you so much for the information! I appreciate your approach.

Would you say it’s best to leave the brown tips on the leaves or is it okay to occasionally trim them?


Yes, you can trim them but I’d suggest only trimming them to leave a tiny bit of the brown part rather than cut into the living green parts.

Tired of your houseplants dying on you?

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