Tips of avocado leaves are turning brown

Avocado    Pennsylvania, USA

I wondered if anybody might be able to help me identify the problem with my avocado plant. This is my first time growing one and I can't seem to find a definitive answer to what might be wrong. For the past few weeks I have noticed that the tips of all the leaves are starting to turn brown and dry out. It's happening to all of them. The old and the newly unfurled ones. The plant is potted and is spending the winter indoors away from the east coast winters. I have read several suggestions as to the cause - room too cold, salt in tap water but wanted to get the opinion of folks on here. I've tried to take pictures of leaves of all ages. Anyone know what's wrong?

Posted by: Lindsay McMenemy (2 points) Lindsay McMenemy
Posted: December 20, 2013


Avocado plants in pots are very susceptible to leaf tip burn from either sodium or chloride salts, far more so than many other plants, so other plants receiving water from the same source may not show any signs of stress. Compounding the problem is the fact that in potted plants the water cannot dissipate into surrounding soils as when planted in the ground. Another contributing factor is that most potted plants will never attain the size of outdoor plants and smaller plants - because they are smaller - cannot distribute water soluble nutrients and minerals across more plant material so the presence of salts may appear to cause more widespread damage. Some varieties are more prone to salts than others but all avocados share this sensitivity.

Posted by: Pam Dunker (1 point) Pam Dunker
Posted: December 23, 2013

Lindsay McMenemy commented,
Wow. Thanks for the very informative answer. what should I use to water in place of regular tap water? I read so where that I could add a 2 to 3 capfuls of vinegar per gallon of tapwater to counteract the salts. Is this something that is advisable? Thanks again! Lindsay
over 7 years ago.

Avocado trees, even ones in the ground, have trouble drawing up enough water and browning at the end of the leaves is very common. As well as issues with chlorinated water make sure that the water is being taken up by the plant by adding water absorbing crystals to the soil. Maybe every so often fill a bucket with water and some seaweed solution and let it soak for an hour or so to ensure complete uptake. My tree in the ground always had brown tips. We have a great gardening radio programme called Roots and Shoots on ABC Perth Australia (non commercial)on Saturday 9am which covers this and many other gardening issues.

Posted by: Margaret Owens (1 point) Margaret Owens
Posted: September 29, 2014

Carlos Guzman commented,
I just want to say thank you all so very much
over 4 years ago.

Definitely looks like burn from excess salts.

Use some Lime/Gypsum sprinkled on the top of the soil & drench with (the same) water so as to 'flush' the pots.

Repeat weekly for 2 months then bi weekly thereafter till symptoms lift - try not to do it too often if soil has a tendency to keep water for long, and do it in the mornings so pots can dry a bit bofore night time.

Good luck.

Posted by: Cornelis (1 point) Cornelis
Posted: January 7, 2014

I have found on my houseplants, such as spider plants that the tips burn, sometimes to an even greater extent than your avocado appears to be showing tip burn. From what I know, tip burn is usually caused by either salts in the water, or by uneven watering, where the soil is alternately dry and wet.

If your water is chlorinated, or if you live in an area with hard water, salt burn could definitely be an issue. I haven't found salt burn to be detrimental to the health of my plants. I simply cut off the brown part of the leaf right before the green part of the leaf restarts, this way the leaf isn't injured and the plant looks better.

If you really want to fix the problem, you would probably need to flush the pot of salts, then use water with fewer salts in it. If you let chlorinated tap water sit for several days the chlorine will come out of it (you can also use chlorine removing drops that they sell for aquariums).

Posted by: Heliantha (1 point) Heliantha
Posted: January 15, 2014

Lindsay McMenemy commented,
Thanks for your help. As the plant was looking so terrible I decided that I would lop the top off over winter. I had been thinking about doing this anyway to force some new branches. I will definitely take your advice on board.
about 7 years ago.

Dear Lindsay - I know this post is over two years old - wondering how your tree is doing? I'm frustrated - I've been giving mine distilled water for 5 years and Jose's been perfectly happy and almost 7 feet tall! But recently black tips just like your pictures. I will rinse the soil, but I am now wondering if a deficiency of something (I read Iron somewhere?) and not too many salts (since no salts in distilled water). Let me know, thanks so much. Karl

Posted by: Karl (1 point) Karl
Posted: August 13, 2016

As Cornelis stated add a good dusting of Gypsum and give it a good soak, give it 4 cup fulls of Gypsum and give it a good soaking and wait a month before doing anything else other then watering.
I personally wouldn't continue to give it Gypsum each week as the Gypsum lowers the PH levels in soils which is what your Avocado tree most likely needs if the tips of its leaves are going brown, however continuing to add Gypsum such as weekly will drastically lower the PH levels.

For those that live in Australia and are growing Avocado trees in Melbourne or Victoria in Australia, there is a great forum as its helped me many times. Here is the link: http://www.daleysfruit.com.au/forum/g...

Cheers all.

Posted by: Dean (1 point) Dean
Posted: September 7, 2016

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