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The dragon tree - botanically "Dracaena" is an easy-to-care-for houseplant. Occasionally, however, there may be brown discoloration on the leaves or the tops of the dragon tree. This does not necessarily have to be caused by a serious care error, sometimes it is just a sign of the natural cycle in which individual leaves die off. However, if increased discoloration occurs, this can indicate a mistake in care or an illness.


substrate conversion

A common cause of brown discoloration on the leaves of the dragon tree is a change in the substrate. The dragon tree can either be planted in soil or cultivated as a hydroponic plant. The advantage of hydroponics is that the humidity is higher, which has a positive effect on the dragon tree. In addition, the risk of infestation is increased by fungus gnats reduced. If the Dracaena is switched to the other substrate, leaf parts can turn brown.

There are no measures against the effects of a change in substrate that prevent brown discoloration from occurring. However, care should be taken to ensure that the plant lacks nothing and that it is optimally cared for so that it is not additionally burdened by care mistakes during the conversion phase.

notice: Dragon tree cuttings are also sensitive and also have to adapt to the substrate first. By turning brown and dropping the leaves, they minimize the need and put more energy into root formation.

Basically, these plants do not appreciate it when they are often repotted. If you decide to change the substrate, you should not repot the plant for a long time. Repeated repotting is also one of the causes that can lead to brown tips.

Wrong location

Although the Dracaena is rather an easy-to-care-for plant, it has certain requirements, especially when it comes to its location. The optimal location looks like this:

  • bright
  • no direct sun
  • high humidity
  • constantly moist substrate

Ideal rooms for the dragon tree are, for example, kitchens that face north-west or bathrooms that also face the same direction. Prolonged direct sun must be avoided, as this can lead to sunburn and the plant reacts with a brown leaf colour.

Dragon trees are often associated with palm trees, which is why many people think they like the blazing sun. But the Dracaena is one of them asparagus plants and the dragon tree species offered here prefer shady locations. Therefore, the blazing sun is one of the most common causes of leaf discoloration and ultimately the death of parts of the plant.

Humidity too low

Another cause, which manifests itself primarily in brownish tips, is insufficient humidity. Most dragon tree species that are available for sale are originally found in tropical areas in forests with high humidity. The dry air that prevails in the apartments, especially in winter, often causes problems for the dragon trees and they react with a brown discoloration at the top.

This problem is easily managed by misting the plant with water at least once a week. Soft water should preferably be used for spraying, as for watering the plant.

notice: Dragon trees generally have a high water requirement. Standing moisture should be avoided both in the roots and in the leaf axes.


One reason dragon trees are so easy to care for is that their nutritional requirements are very low. They generally grow very slowly and growth is not only favored by an increased supply of nutrients. Often the opposite is even the case, that too many nutrients can be one of the causes of brown leaves on the dragon tree. When fertilized, the dragon tree is only rarely and moderately supplied with nutrients.
The fertilizer may not contain the following components:

  • too much nitrogen
  • fluorine
  • lime

Calcareous tap water can therefore also be a reason for brown leaves on the dragon tree. If you have very hard, calcareous water, you should use rainwater for watering. Fluorophosphate, which is a common ingredient in green plant fertilizer, should also not be used on dragon trees. The plant should only be fertilized with nitrogen fertilizers in a very moderate concentration.

notice: After repotting in soil, this usually already contains sufficient nutrients for the plants. In the first year you can completely do without further fertilization.


Diseases can also be a reason why leaf parts turn brown. If there is a suspicion that it is a disease, you should act quickly, because not only will the affected plants die off within a short time, other indoor plants can also be affected.
The following diseases can occur:

  • bacterial burn
  • leaf spot disease
  • root rot

bacterial burn

One of the most common causes of brown spots is bacterial burn. This disease manifests itself by initially forming watery brownish spots that can turn the entire leaf brown. This disease is not only visually noticeable, the bacterial fire is also expressed by an unpleasant odor. If an intense smell occurs, there is usually no rescue for the dragon tree. In the early stages, you can try to save the plant by cutting off and discarding infected leaves. You can also spray the dragon tree with a tonic such as field horsetail broth to improve the cell structure and prevent bacteria from penetrating so easily.

leaf spot disease

Plant diseases usually mean the end of the plant for dragon trees. This is also the case when the plant is attacked by leaf spot disease. This is a fungal infection that can also spread very quickly. Initially, brownish irregular spots appear, which can later affect the entire leaf or plant. As a first measure against leaf spot disease, you can remove the affected leaves. In addition, you should no longer spray the plant or remove it from rooms with high humidity. This deprives the fungus of the environment in which it can multiply well. Fungicides, whether organic or conventional, are only moderately effective on dragon trees. However, an attempt to save the plant can always be made with a fungicide.

root rot

Another cause of brown leaves is root rot, which occurs due to poor care. In this case, the plant was watered too often or too much. One of the first measures is to stop watering. Even with root rot, it usually means the end of the plant. A rescue attempt can be made by repotting the plant. You must completely remove the old substrate from the roots by washing it off. Then plant the plant in a new pot with fresh substrate. The substrate should only be lightly watered once so that waterlogging does not occur again.

Cut brown leaves

Brown tips or leaves are dead and will not recover even if the plant recovers. You can therefore remove discolored parts of the leaf without hesitation. In the case of disease, you should always remove the entire leaf that is affected. If you make mistakes in care, such as too little humidity or after repotting, only remove the affected parts of a leaf.

tip: Always use sharp scissors. Cut the sheet a few millimeters above where it has turned brown.

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