I have a small avocado plant that sprouted from seed this summer (June). It was thriving for a while and then it stopped growing and started getting brown leaves. The leaves start getting brown on the tip first, than close to the stems. The brown near the stem then spreads out and the leaf dies.

I know that brown leaves can be caused by overwatering so I am careful not to over water. A while ago I got an artificial light source for the winter, but this did not help. I do not see any insects or pests on the leaves and the plant. Has anyone had similar problems?

enter image description hereenter image description hereenter image description hereenter image description hereenter image description hereenter image description here

  • Could you send a picture of the entire plant, pot, tell us what type of soil you have used and most importantly what have you used for fertilizer? I am guessing none, but something happened recently to cause this browning. I am thinking chemical. Have you added anything within the last few weeks?
    – stormy
    Dec 7, 2018 at 23:49
  • Your plant needs a balanced fertilizer. a simple NPK formulation...Osmocote is best 14-14-14 all purpose, once per year. This browning is a catastrophic event. Something happened; did you add any fertilizer or compost tea or anything chemical. On the manual side, have you moved this plant from one environment to perhaps more sun coming through a window?
    – stormy
    Dec 7, 2018 at 23:53
  • Hi Ailna thank you for your answer. I used plant soil and fertilizer that can be bought in the store. Fertilizer is called Substral, it is liquid and contains N, P, K, Cu, Fe and Zn. I used it at first once a month, but when the plant started turning brown I stopped. Read that fertilizer can cause brown leaves so I thought it may help tye plant if I stop fertilizing. The plant is standing in the same spot, have not moved it.
    – Brana
    Dec 8, 2018 at 7:21
  • The soli is regular plant soil that I got in the store and on the top I added aquarium gravel to protect soil from fruit flies (sometimes fruitflies come with basle in pot that I use for food). I added a picture of the soil to help explain since I am not familiar with soil types.
    – Brana
    Dec 8, 2018 at 7:36
  • FWIW, I have had the same issue with avocados. I wasn't half as attentive to them as you are to yours. In time, the leaves turned brown and brittle just like yours, and eventually fell off one by one. Might have to do with the water you use.
    – Eddie Kal
    Dec 9, 2018 at 1:36

1 Answer 1


This brown spot is being caused by sitting in too much water for too long. Just one too many times can cause root rot which causes death up the line. The calcium on the side of the pot.
Your plant should stay in the same soil for the next few weeks. Give this plant a balanced fertilizer and use half of what the directions say. I would use distilled bottled water.
Water thoroughly and then pick it up. Feel the heft. Do not water that plant until it is obvious the pot and plant and soil are far far lighter. Then water deeply again.

Let's find out what the problem is first and then we'll be able to help with remedies.

Your plant needs a little bit of balanced fertilizer (not blood meal or bat guano or worm castings or raw compost of any kind). Osmocote 14-14-14 All purpose extended release is my favorite for newbies in gardening. Use HALF the amount in the directions and depending on the health of this plant, the amount of sunlight it gets, plenty of air in the soil...you might get by with just one application per year. Especially if this plant is to remain indoors?

Looking at your plant shows it needs basic NPK, this plant has had too much water and not enough light. You need a brighter spot unless this is a curtained south facing window? Repot this plant after 2 weeks in sterilized potting soil medium. Wash and scrub the pot, knock off excess soil and cut off dead/browned/mushy roots if there are any. Transplant into fresh potting soil, water and do not water again until that plant/soil/pot feel very light.

Raise the bottom of the pot off the surface it is sitting on...such as the saucer? by 1/4" using pieces of ceramic tile or something that keeps the pot stable. Never allow any plant to sit in water for more than 10 minutes...or whatever. Do not water again until that pot/soil/plant feel obviously lighter.


There is something I am missing. Was that soil purchased in a bag with a label? Do you remember any additives such as gels or sponges for holding onto water? Did it come with fertilizer? Was it sterilized? If so you wouldn't be having troubles with fungus gnats or fruit flies. Curious. I am thinking that the soil might have pH beyond or below the proper pH. Have you used the water in your fish tank to water this plant? I am assuming you might have a fish tank with the gravel?

I just realized the plant as the model for leaf signs, in the link I am sending, is Cannabis. One of the greatest things about legalizing this plant is how it is making great gardeners who are honing their gardening skills, skills that will work no matter what crop they grow. I hope this is okay? They'll let us know if not, we've great moderators!

Check the pH of that soil. The chemistry used in aquariums needs to stay in the aquarium because it will definitely mess with the chemistry of the soil negatively.

leaf diagnosis

  • Thank you for all your comments. I have not watered the plant in a long time so I wathered with fertilizer yesterday. I used water that was left to stand for couple of day. This is my best option for dealing with hard wather because I do not have access to destiled water or water softening products. I am a bit worried because the leaves turend more brown. You can see the last picture I added. I am thinking to repot the plant, cut out rotten roots and give it new soil.
    – Brana
    Dec 9, 2018 at 9:36
  • The plant has light from southwest facing window and from artificial sun light lamp.
    – Brana
    Dec 9, 2018 at 9:38
  • What kind of sun light lamp? Is the bulb made for use as a grow light? How many hours per day do you use this lamp? Wait, maybe I misunderstood. Did you fertilize and water before this picture was taken? Or after we'd been talking? It is perfectly fine to tilt your plant on its side and pop it out of the pot to look at the roots. Be very cool if you took a picture and sent it to us? Thanks!
    – stormy
    Dec 9, 2018 at 9:51
  • The light bulb is suposed to imitate sunlight. Should work up to 1 meter distance, but the plant is about 30cm away from it. The other avocado plant seem to like it. The light is on for 7 hours during the day. I fertilized in the evening and took the pic in the morning.
    – Brana
    Dec 10, 2018 at 13:53
  • I read through the rest of the link I sent you and it addresses all of your problems...I am amazed. Please go through everything and if something rings true, let me know? Very straight forward...even talking about diagnosing root rot.
    – stormy
    Dec 10, 2018 at 23:57

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service and acknowledge you have read our privacy policy.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.