An Often Overlooked Problem Can Damage Your Houseplants
How could this be? You're being careful not to overwater your houseplants. But now, you're seeing brown tips on the ends of the leaves. Maybe whole stalks are dying. You fertilize regularly, yet the plants are not doing well at all. What could the problem be? You'd be surprised, but it's probably salts.
Who Put the Salts in the Plants?
Salt has a big family. Besides the stuff on your dinner table, there are all kinds of salts in your water, soil, and even potting mixes. Some salts are in plant food, too, since they're important for plant health. The problem is that salts can build up in the soil. They're absorbed by the plant and accumulate in the tips of the leaves. Too much salt kills the tissue, making plants look unhealthy.
How to Tell if the Problem Is Salt
Salt leaves clues. If you see a white crust along the sides of your pots or over the surface of the potting mix, you have too much. When your plant has dead tips on its leaves, that's another clue.
How to Get Rid of Salt
You'll need to flush your plant's potting mix. But first, wipe off the insides of the pot, without letting anything fall into the soil. Then put your plant in a bath, sink, or patio, and water it until you see seepage coming out of the drainage holes. Let the pot drain and then do it again. Twice. Don't worry about overwatering for the moment. As long as the pot drains, the plant should be fine. If there's a lot of salt, repot in fresh potting mix and a new container. Soak and scrub the old pot before you use it again.