The browning of leaf tips in banana trees can be part of the natural process of the tree growing and replacing old leaves with new. Other causes of browning in banana tree leaf tips are underwatering, overwatering, sunburn, cold spells or nutrient deficiency. Water the tree well and cut back any old leaves.
Why banana leaf tips turn brown
Here are the top reasons why banana leaf tips turn brown and how to solve this problem.
Regular leaf drop
Banana trees grow up from the center stem getting taller and taller. Leaves will drop off over time, turning brown on the edges and eventually splitting and dropping off. It is recommended to trim off leaves as they turn brown. They can otherwise drop down as they go brown.
Banana plants grow best in the tropics and sub tropics but can also suffer from sunburn. Sunny, hot days can also cause the leaf to burn and turn brown. Placing the tree in a partly shaded position can help to prevent the leaves from turning brown from sunburn.
Tropical banana trees do not like cold spells or frosts. A snap of cold weather can cause the leaves to brown on the tips. Growing banana trees in tropical and subtropical climates is a good way to prevent browning caused by cold weather.
I grow my banana tree in a sub-tropical area which can sometimes have a few nights of cold weather each winter. This will affect the exposed leaves or those not shaded by the overhanging tree.
Watering is key to keeping your banana tree healthy and too much or too little can cause browning on the tips of the leaves.
When the soil dries out the leaves will turn yellow and then quickly brown on the tips as water cannot be circulated effectively. The solution to this problem is as easy as deep, regular watering during the summer months and during the winter when there is low rainfall.
When a banana tree is overwatered it can also cause the leaves to brown. The brown areas will usually appear closer to the center of the leaves rather than on the tips but the leaf itself will still die off.
Cut off any leaves that are turning brown as the will not grow back. This will encourage the banana tree to grow new leaves from the center of the tree and recover.
Banana trees that are lacking a key nutrient can cause the leaves to turn brown. Nitrogen is the likely cause of browning leaves due to nutrient deficiency so a quick feed of liquid nitrogen fertilizer can help the tree recover.
Banana trees grown in good quality soil actually require very few additional nutrients. My banana tree has been growing in the same soil for 3 years and I never fertilize it. Other than regular watering the tree is self sufficient as long as it has access to good quality soil to start with.
If your soil is poor or your tree has been growing for many years, you may need to give it a nutrient boost. A good all round organic fertilizer applied in Spring will provide macro and micro nutrients to prevent the leaves browning due to deficiencies.
Cause of brown leaves in banana plants in pots
The browning of the tips of your banana plant leaves in pots is likely to be cause by either low light or lack of water.
Lack of water
Indoor banana trees are more likely to dry out due to the warmth and dry air conditioning. The soil will not hold moisture as well as banana tree planted in the ground and the lack of water can cause browning on the leaves.
Simply remove leaves with significant browning and water the banana plant well. Take the pot outside if you can and water the whole plant thoroughly. This can help to soak hydrophobic potting soil and encourage the plant to absorb more water quickly.
Always allow the pot to drain completely as the roots of the banana tree can quickly rot if left in water.
Lack of sunlight
Lack of sunlight is the other major factor causing the browning of leaf tips in indoor potted banana trees. To give your tree more light, take it outside into dappled shade to give it the opportunity to increase its rate of photosynthesis which will increase the energy transfer and help the new leaves stay green.
Should I cut the brown leaves off my banana plant?
Once the banana leaf has turned brown on the tips the leaf will not recover so you can cut it off. The only time I would leave banana leaves on that have turned brown is if there are only 2-3 leaves left on the plant.
Wait for new leaves to sprout through the top of the trunk then remove the browning leaves that are lower down. Cut the leaves back close to the trunk, leaving only a few inches. The leaf stem will eventually brown completely and drop off of the tree trunk.
Tips to prevent leaf tip browning in banana trees
Here are my top tips to prevent leaves from browning on banana trees.
While underwatering can cause leaves to brown regular, deep watering will keep your banana tree happy and prevent this problem. Rather than short, shallow watering each day, use your garden hose and give your banana tree a thorough water every few days.
Watch for when the leaves start to wilt and make sure you water your tree well. It is best to water in the morning before the harsh sun has emerged to prevent sunburn.
Trim off old leaves
To keep your banana tree looking healthy and provide the space and light for new leaves to grow remove any browning leaves. I like to wait for the leaves to droop a little so they are easy to reach and then snip them off at the base with sharp secateurs.
Organic liquid fertilizer
Giving your banana tree a boost of organic liquid fertilizer in Spring is a gentle way to ensure the tree has plenty of nutrients. An addition of pelleted chicken manure is also a great way to give your tree a range of nutrients while it grows quickly over the warmer months.
Why are the tips of my banana tree leaves turning brown? | Summary
The browning of leaf tips in banana trees can be part of the natural process of the tree growing and replacing old leaves with new. Check first that the tree is not suffering from the problems of underwatering, overwatering, sunburn or nutrient deficiency. Water the tree well and cut back any old leaves.