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I've had this tradescantia nanouk for less than two weeks and I'm already getting several browning leaves. From what I've read, it seems this can be either from lack of humidity or too much light, so I'm hoping for advice that's more specific.

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The browning is mostly on the edges but it does extend into the leaf on some.

I live in Los Angeles. I took a photo so you can see how close it is to a couple large windows which face south. Though this was taken at night, the plant is in bright light near-on all day.

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I watered from above the very first time, before reading that this is not good for the leaves, so I lost many of the leaves at/in soil level. However, I'm generally a bottom water-er anyway so this won't be a problem again. I am unsure of how much water this plant needs - I've read that it should be kept moist but also to let it dry out.

One thing I have read that seems to be consistent is that it likes humidity. I have a humidifier that I run almost every night and if the central air/heat is on, but I'm also thinking of adding a pebble tray.

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  • When you say 'bright light', does that mean sunlight? Which way do the windows face, south, north or...?
    – Bamboo
    Feb 14, 2022 at 22:27
  • The windows face south. Thought I mentioned this but will edit to add. When I say bright light, I do mean sunlight. No direct sun, but it’s a bright room for almost the whole day. Feb 15, 2022 at 3:28

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I think your watering regime may need adjusting; these plants do like bright light; some like sunlight to get good coloration on the leaves, so long as the sunlight is not intensely hot through the window, but they don't like being too near a heat source, such as a radiator or electrical equipment.

In terms of watering, when the top of soil feels dry to the touch, water thoroughly with enough water to penetrate the whole pot, and allow the excess to drain away freely from the base. Make sure there is no water sitting in the bottom of any outer pot or tray 30 minutes after watering, empty it out, and empty again if more collects. It's important not to leave the base of the pot sitting in water to stop root rot problems occurring. Repeat the process when the top of the pot is dry to the touch again (but not so dry the soil has shrunk away from the sides of the pot). I always water mine from the top, doesn't seem to cause rot problems - if you have blackened stem bases already, it may be the roots were too wet for too long, especially if water was left inside the outer pot, but see if it recovers. They may benefit from misting periodically or a pebble tray if the room is artificially heated (as in winter).

Assuming your plant recovers, it may need a larger pot shortly - it looks like it's in a smallish pot, so check that it's not potbound in the next few weeks. If the roots fill up the whole pot, especially if they're hanging out the bottom or coiled around, that will make it difficult to keep the plant well watered.

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I used to have some solid green Tradescantia. They were by a south window and grew well, while they lived, but they had old leaves shrivel up with regularity. I didn't try it at the time, but in retrospect, and with experience with other plants, I'm guessing regular fertilization would have helped them a lot (whether or not it would entirely solve the problem). I know for my grapefruit tree, having it near a south window and fertilizing it prevents its leaves from shriveling and dropping (I've had like one leaf drop that comes to mind in the past few years); grapefruit trees probably like the hot sun more than Tradescantia, though (but I mention this for the fertilizer aspect; and yes, I concur that Tradescantia like bright light).

Bamboo's an expert at this sort of thing; so, I'm not meaning to detract from her answer. I just wanted to add my two cents.

Also, I think putting them by a north or east window would reduce the problem. I got mine as cuttings from my grandma, who fertilized hers (at least sometimes, if not regularly) and had them by an east window, and hers didn't seem to have the shriveling leaf problem.

I might have fertilized mine once or twice the whole time I had them, if that.

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9 out of 10 is too much water not so much the sun I have mine in south window and no problems in my case it was constant moist I started to let it dry out some and no more problems

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