Why Does Aloe Plant Get Brown Tips and Parlor Palm Turn Yellow?

Hi Judy,

I’m new to houseplants, and seem to be really good at overwatering. With the latest bunch I got I’ve been conscious of the amount of water I give, and the frequency. I’ve even kept most of them alive! however, I have 2 that I can’t quite figure out. My parlor palm has been doing quite well until the last 2 weeks. It’s in a ceramic pot, no drain hole but has about 1.5″ of clay balls at the bottom. Watered with about 1.5 cups of water every 10-12 days. The leaves have turned yellow, then brown. Am I underwatering? or overwatering? it lives next to an east facing balcony window that usually has sheer curtains drawn, although sometimes they’re open all day. I have cats but I’m 99% sure they don’t play with the soil in the pot.
The other is the Aloe with the drying tips – again, I don’t know where I went wrong. Please help!

Hi Kasia,

I am sorry to be so long in getting back to you, but I am a senior citizen and have not been well; the questions seem to pile up much faster than I can answer them.

I would really suggest that you move your parlor palm to a container that has drip holes in the bottom. In fact, I would recommend that you always leave your plants in their original growers pots, place a deep saucer inside your decorative pot to collect excess water, and just cover the tops of the plant with decorative moss to have the arrangement look good. Doing this allows you to know that when you water, you water well enough so that it comes out the drip holes in the bottom of the pot. This is important, because then you know the roots are getting watered properly. You can also easily get rid of the excess water that drains out.

I think your parlor palm is under-watered. Water a parlor palm well so that the water comes out the drip holes in the bottom of the pot. Since you have no drip holes, you need to get a water meterHow to know if your plant needs water. Learn how to use a water meter, also called a soil moisture meter, to find out how wet or dry your plant soil is and whether it's time to water. (read about these in the Glossary) and check how wet the soil is at the bottom of the pot. Once properly watered, allow the top 50% of the soil to dry out before watering again. When in doubt, do not water! Water even less during the winter when the plant is not actively growing. Brown leaf tips often indicate over watering, while yellow fronds tell you that the plant needs more water.

I am guessing that there are no drip holes in your aloe vera pot either so there is no way to tell if it is getting too much or too little water. You need to see how wet the plant is at the bottom of the pot. Overwatering leads to root rot and browning which is much more common than under watering. To prevent browned leaves due to overwatering, water your aloe when the soil has completely dried out. When you do water the plant, water thoroughly until the water comes out the drip holes. Never allow the plant to sit in water.