Brown spots on leaf edges
Question: Is there any way to keep variegated foliage from getting brown spots along the edges?
Answer: Though beautiful, variegated foliage can present some problems. One of these is the ugly spotting or “bruising” that’s referred to here. Usually, the more heavily variegated the leaf, the more susceptible it is to such problems. Just this morning, for example, we moved none heavily variegated plant to a different spot on the same shelf. When we looked at it again, not more than two minutes later, nearly an entire leaf had turned a shade of brown. You only need to breathe on some plants for them to bruise this way.
Fortunately, not all varieties are this sensitive and, with a few precautions, this problem can be minimized. First, avoid over-handling the plants. The less that you touch the foliage, the less likely the chance for bruising. Be especially careful not to handle these plants with cold and/or wet hands. I once handled one after having a pickle as a snack, turning the entire plant brown within a matter of minutes! Second, try not to keep these plants too soggy. When the plant tissues are holding a lot of water, they seem especially prone to bruising. Third, be careful when watering not to get water, particularly cold water, on the foliage. Morning “dew” can be a problem, also. This is the moisture that often appears in the crown, or on the leaf edges, the morning after a cool night. For this reason, it’s best not to water in the evening, and to minimize the difference between nighttime and daytime temperatures. Lastly, be careful in using fertilizers and other chemicals, since overuse of these can be toxic to the plant and damage the foliage.