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What Causes Brown Spots on Dracaena Marginata Leaves? (Causes and Treatment)

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If your Dracaena marginata has brown spots, the cause may be too much light exposure, over or under watering, poor water quality, or, less frequently, pests or diseases. You can fix most issues by moving the plant, changing your watering habits, and spraying your plant with a homemade pesticide.

Why Does My Dracaena Marginata Have Brown Tips

Having a plant in our home can improve air quality, lower stress and anxiety, and other excellent health benefits. But being a living thing means they can grow sick and die if you don’t take care of them.

So, roll up those sleeves, get that watering can, and let us start helping your plants get healthy again.

Potential Causes of Brown Spots

There are seven reasons why your Dracaena Marginata’s leaves might be turning brown. We will explore all of these potential factors in-depth, but here is a quick list of what those reasons might be:

  1. Over or under exposure to light
  2. Inconsistent watering or lack of humidity
  3. Over or under watering
  4. Poor water quality
  5. Temperature stress
  6. Leaf spot disease
  7. Pests

These seven reasons are the most common ones when dealing with plant care. So if any of these potential causes make the lightbulb over your head go off, keep reading to learn how to help your Dracaena Marginata.

1. Over or Under Light Exposure

If a human being experiences prolonged sunlight exposure, we get sunburned. If we get too little sun, it can cause a Vitamin D deficiency. This same principle can also apply to plants, which might sound weird considering plants thrive on photosynthesis.

Did you know plants can get sunburned too? Too much direct sunlight can burn your plants’ leaves, which will cause those unsightly brown spots. And unlike a human, sunscreen cannot prevent your plant from receiving a nasty sunburn.

Dracaena Marginata’s light preference is bright, indirect sunlight. They can do well in lower light conditions, but if you want your Dracaena Marginata to grow quickly, it will need bright, indirect sunlight.

The Solution to Over or Under Light Exposure

If your Dracaena currently resides somewhere with too much light exposure, consider moving it to a lower light area. If your Dracaena is not growing in its low light area, move it to an area with bright, indirect sunlight.

If you do not have another location for the Dracaena, putting a sheer curtain in between the window and your plant can give some protection and allow for the right amount of light to shine through. 

2. Inconstant Watering and Lack or Humidity

We know what not drinking water on a consistent basis does to us, so imagine what it does to plants. We can get up and get a drink when we’re thirsty, but plants depend on us to give them a water when they need it.

The Dracaena enjoys high humidity. Lack of humidity causes them to dry out quickly and turn their leaves brown, causing the leaves to curl. If you have noticed a slight curl to your plant’s leaves, this could be the culprit.

Dracaena Marginata Leaves

The Solution to Inconsistent Watering or Lack of Humidity

If your plant’s soil is 75% dry, it is time to give it a drink of water. By checking your Dracaena every 7 to 10 days, you can stay consistent with its watering. This schedule can change in the winter when our homes are hotter and drier, so be mindful of that.

To keep up the humidity around your plant, mist around your Dracaena in the morning. Misting in the morning allows for excessive moisture to evaporate throughout the day, which can prevent disease-causing pathogens from growing on your plant.

Another suggestion is to set up a pebble tray under our Dracaena. Pebble trays will help increase the moisture in the air, keeping your plant humid throughout the day. Pebble trays are also less messy, so if you want a cleaner option, here is one for you.

3. Over or Under Watering

Most gardeners know that underwatering puts their plants at risk, but overwatering can be just as harmful.

Though we are focusing on brown spots for these plants, I think it’s crucial to give you the signs of overwatering a Dracaena so you can rule that out as the cause.

If you notice your Dracaena’s leaves are turning yellow, this is a sign of overwatering. If your Dracaena’s brown spots start at the leaf tips and start to break or drop off, this is a sign of dehydration.

The Solution to Over or Under Watering

If you are overwatering your plant, drain the excess water and wait until the soil is 75% dry before watering again. If that does not seem to help, you can replant the Dracaena in soil with better drainage to remove excess water and give your plant a fresh start.

If you are underwatering your plant, you can try moving it to a new spot in your home. Sometimes, a plant does not get enough water because of too much sunlight exposure. If this is not the solution, we have another one for you.

To get your plant thriving again, water your Dracaena deeply once every day or every other day until the soil regains hydration. After the plant starts to pick up, you can cut down to watering it every 7 to 10 days. Misting is also an option.

4. Poor Water Quality

It is hard to imagine water quality could play a role in your plants’ health. After all, water is water, and plants need water. But quality water is extremely important for your plants’ health.

Dracaenas are sensitive to fluoride and salt, two chemicals commonly found in tap water. Fluoride is toxic to the Dracaenas species “Janet Craig,” “Massangeana” and “Warneckii.” Even one ppm of fluoride can cause your plants’ leaves to develop brown spots on their leaves.

Salt is not toxic to Dracaenas, but high soluble salts damage the roots. These salts can also build up on the leaves, leading to burnt tips. Salt can also pull water away from the roots, which leads to your plants becoming dehydrated.

The Solution to Poor Water Quality

If you live in a rainy area, this suggestion is perfect for you. When possible, save rainwater during rainy days. Rainwater is the purest and most natural water, so it is an excellent choice for watering your plants.

If you have a filtration system at home, use filtered water for your plants. The filtration system removes the contaminants and particles from the water, making it safer for your plants.

But not everyone has access to one of these systems. So if you do not have a filtration system, let your tap water sit for at least 24 hours. Letting the water site allows for the chlorine and fluorine to evaporate, making the water suitable to use.

Other water options are distilled water and water with hydrogen peroxide. However, hydrogen peroxide water should be reserved for occasional use only.

5. Temperature Stress

Dracaenas are tropical plants, which means they thrive in warmer temperatures. Cooler temperatures cause their leaves to go brown.

So if you keep your Dracaena in temperatures between 65° to 95°F (18.33°-35°C), they will remain happy and thriving, and you will be able to avoid their leaves going brown.

The Solution to Temperature Stress

Cold drafts can cause temperature stress for your Dracaena. So if you keep your Dracaena indoors, keep it away from heaters, cooling vents, or air conditioning to maintain a constant temperature.

If your Dracaena is outside, keep it protected from wind if the temperature is below 50°F (10°C). If the temperature drops between 32° to 37°F (0°-2.77°C), prepare for your plant to have some decay or discoloration.

If possible, plant your outside Dracaenas in low-wind areas where they will get the ample amount of sun they need. If you’re considering having a greenhouse on your property, a Dracaena is an excellent candidate.

6. Leaf Spot Disease

If you have noticed small brown spots trimmed in yellow on your plant, there is a possibility your plant has Leaf spot disease.

Leaf spot disease is a bacteria or fungus that attacks the leaves, which causes brown trimmed yellow spots. These spots vary in color, size, and shape.

The Solution to Leaf Spot Disease

If your plant has Leaf Spot Disease, you need to immediately remove the affected leaves and isolate your Dracaena from the rest of your plants.

You can try a homemade remedy to treat leaf spot disease. Put a tablespoon or two of baking soda and a teaspoon or two of mineral oil in a water-filled spray bottle. Shake the solution well and spray all the infected areas of the plant.

7. Pests

Pests are a common problem for most plants, but not as much for Dracaenas. Still, it’s a good idea to cover all your bases when it comes to plant care.

Spider mites and mealybugs are two of the most harmful pests your plants can get. Spider mites are tiny arachnids that quickly demolish the leaves on your plants. They are easily identifiable by the small webs they leave behind on your plants and in the holes they create.

Mealybugs live in warm and humid climates. Their feeding pattern is similar to the spider mites, minus leaving behind webs.

The Solution to Pests

To prevent these pests from using your Dracaena as lunch, we recommend rinsing the leaves and cane of your outdoor plant periodically. For indoor Dracaenas, you can wipe down the leaves with a damp cloth.

If you see signs of your Dracaena becoming a snack for pests, you can spray it with a pyrethrin insecticide. Pyrethrin insecticides target an insect’s nervous system without causing additional damage to your plant. Pyrethrin is organic, so it is safer than other insecticides.  

The USDA recommends combining one tablespoon of dishwashing detergent and one cup of vegetable oil with one cup of water. Put this mixture in a spray bottle, shake well, and spray the plant with it.

Additional Tips for Maintaining a Healthy Plant

Though we have covered the potential causes of brown spots on your Dracaena Marginata, good plant care starts before you even bring the plant home.

This statement might be a head-scratcher, but you will understand what I mean once you read over these additional tips.

Here are five tips for maintaining the health and happiness of your Dracaena Marginata.

Purchase Healthy Plants

Good plant health starts with purchasing plants that are already in good health. Inspecting your potential plant prospects before you bring them into your home and garden can help prevent the spread of diseases and other issues.

Purchasing unhealthy and disease-prone plants compromises the rest of your garden. If you are buying a plant of questionable health, quarantine it from your other plants until you diagnose the plant’s problem, get it treated, and make sure it makes a full recovery.

Keep the Plant Clean

Plants can accumulate dust and debris just like anything in our home. Wiping the dust off your plant will keep it looking and feeling healthy.

By removing fallen leaves and other debris from it or around the plant’s pot, you prevent the possible spread of pests and diseases.

Give Your Plant Room To Breathe

We all need room to breathe and grow. The same goes for our plants. Keeping your plants well-spaced allows for better air circulation for your plants. Proper spacing also allows your plants the room they need to grow.

Proper Soil and Proper Pot Usage

Sometimes a plant’s health is affected by living in soil that is not right for them or a pot that is too small.

By researching the plant, you are purchasing, you will know what soil is best for them. If you put it in the proper soil, your plant is less likely to get root rot, and healthy new growths can begin to sprout.

In the case of Dracaena Marginata, it prefers loamy soil with a low pH. You can lower your soil’s pH by adding peat.

The proper pot size can also aid in having a healthy plant. If your plant is cramped in a too-small pot, its growth will slow down. A small put could also tip off your plant’s weight distribution, causing it to fall over and damage its leaves and roots.

Preventing Future Contamination

Sometimes you do everything you can to get a plant back to good health, but it doesn’t always work. It may happen that one of your plants is too far gone to help.

If this is the case, remove the plant and discard it in the trash. It might seem like a horrible thing to do, but it is necessary. Diseases and pests can linger and composting these plants can cause harm to future plants who receive that fertilizer.


How to Treat Brown Spots on Leaves

Brown spots on your plant’s leaves can indicate a bacterial or fungal infection. To treat the brown spots, change your plants’ watering schedule.

They shouldn’t be too dry, but you shouldn’t allow your plant to soak in excess water. Remove any leaves with brown spots to prevent them from infecting your other leaves.

How Do You Treat Leaf Spots on a Dracaena?

To treat the brown leaf spots on your Dracaena, make sure your plant isn’t getting too much or too little sunlight. Changing your plants’ watering schedule will prevent future spots from appearing.

Keeping your plant clean and in a pot where it can grow helps keep them healthy and thriving. Trimming away brown ends or removing leaves that have turned completely brown can prevent the spots from spreading.

My plant is not getting better, When should I give up on it?

You can determine when to give up on a plant by these two factors: how much time you have spent trying to save it and how much money you have spent trying to keep it.

Like humans, plants get diseases. Some diseases are harder to cure and can spread to your other plants. Plants also grow old, and sometimes they are just too old to save.

If your plant is too diseased to keep, remove it before it infects your other plants, and trash it to prevent further contamination. If the plant is too old, you can trash it or compost it to make fertilizer for new plants.

Money does not grow on trees. So, if you bought a 5-dollar plant at your local grocery store and have spent 20 dollars trying to save it, it is time to let the plant go.

Plants should add value to our lives, not take value from them. So, if you cannot save the 5-dollar plant with 5 dollar’s worth of treatment, let it go.

However, if that 5-dollar plant has sentimental value to you, that is a different story. Sentimental value does not have a price sticker attached to it, so if you want to spend 20 dollars on that sentimental 5-dollar plant, then do so.

Eventually, you will have to decide the distance you are willing to go and how much you are willing to spend to keep that plant alive.


As we learned in this article, there are many causes for brown spots on your Dracaena Marginata’s leaves. The good news is all of these causes are treatable, and you can get your Dracaena back to looking and feeling its best!

By having healthy, thriving plants, we reap the physical and psychological health benefits that come with having them in your home or office. As long as we take care of our plants, they will care for us, creating a beautiful and natural relationship that all parties will find beneficial.