Why Are My Elephant Ear Leaves Turning Brown?

Elephant ear plants is attractive, however it requires a lot of work and patience to develop its huge, decorative leaves. This is why it’s difficult to notice otherwise gorgeous shiny leaves turn brown. Are you wondering what’s wrong?

The cause of leaf burns is primary reason the elephant’s ear leaves turning brown. The cause is intense sunlight, excessive scorching heat or fertilizer burning, or a lack of humidity. The brown leaves can also be an indication of insects, diseases or water supply issues.

Fortunately, the majority problems can be prevented or fixed when they are detected early. In this article I’ll show you how to recognize the problem, treat it, and avoid the appearance of brown leaves on the ears of elephants.

Causes of Elephant Ear Leaves Turning Brown

[1] Leaf Burn and Drying Out


The cause of leaf burns is primary reason for elephant ears that are brown. It’s typically caused by excessive exposure to direct sunshine or heat. In summer, or when you plant your plants outdoors, you’ll see this.

The scorching sun’s heat can scorch leaves. In the process, the leaves’ edges and tips change to a dull brown dry, then become wilted. The entire leaf may turn dry and burnt because the leaves are losing water.

Do not worry, leaf burn won’t cause death to your elephant’s ear. The issue is that it alters the appearance of the leaves on your plant and makes them look unattractive. In the end, it’s the foliage of an elephant’s ear that attracts people to it.

The leaves will turn limp, curled, and dry if leaf burn is caused by excessive heat. If there is no action taken then the leaves will eventually disappear.

Other causes can trigger or worsen the effects of leaf burn and drying. The most obvious causes are low humidity, submerging and fertilizer overflowing into the soil, and hot or cold drafts. The most likely cause is overwatering. be the cause if the soil is wet or muddy.


To make the elephant’s ear appear at its best, it should be exposed to light from the sun. On contrary, is not a fan of direct sunlight. It should be placed in a place with plenty of indirect or diffused sunlight.

If you wish to shield your plants from the scorching afternoon sun, you can use blinds or sheer curtains.

I put the elephant’s ear plant in the east-facing windows to make them easy to take care of. They will love the soft but nourishing light of early morning. If you are able to spot an dapple or shadow in the afternoon , when the sun is hot make the most of it.

Misting, watering, as well as increasing the quantity of airflow that your plant can get can all be beneficial. They’ll not just protect your plant from burns however, they assist in the recovery process by helping it recuperate more quickly.

Elephant Ear Plant Colocasia

[2] Too Little Water

The elephant’s ear is a aquatic tropical plant. By taking a look at its wide and lush foliage It’s evident that the plant thrives on constant water.

Signs of an Underwatered Elephant Ear

When you allow it to become thirsty, your elephant’s ear will react by curling and wilting. Then the tips of the leaves and edges will turn brown, become crisp, and look burnt. The browning of leaves will continue along the edges and eventually completely cover the leaf.

When your plants are a bit bushy You’ll notice a the leaves turning brown on the outside. The browning typically begins with older and lower leaves. If dehydration is severe, the leaves that have been browned are able to dry out completely then shrivel and fall down.

The large yellow spots or patches on the edges or tips of leaves are a typical indication of an elephant’s underwater ears.


  • Take away any dead or brown leaves, as they won’t grow back If left in the same the same place.
  • Make a slit in the potting mix using your index finger approximately 2-3 inches deep. In the event that your soil appears completely dry, you must water it right away.
  • I like that you soak the ear in water as it is in the bathtub. This is the best method to ensure that your elephant’s ear is well and thoroughly watered.
  • If you are irrigating from above, be sure to keep watering it until the it begins to drain out of drain holes. In addition, you must remove the excess water that has been accumulating on the surface on the surface of your saucer.

It’s no surprise that the process of submerging causes its leaves to curl and then turn brown.

[3] Fungal Leaf Blight

Fungal leaf blight is one of the most frequent disease that causes blemishes on the leaves of the elephant’s ear. It is due to Phytophthora colocasiae that thrives in humid conditions. The fungus can be spread through water.


Fungal leaf blight that is caused by Phytophthora is seen as tiny darker brown or tan, or purple circular spots on the leaves in the early stages of the disease. In the middle of the lesions there is a clear ooze released. If it is exposed to the air, it changes into a clear, watery color to a yellow or purple hue.

In humid conditions in humid conditions, small brown lesions grow quickly and then grow to form larger patches of brown. Other signs of fungal blight are:

  • Foliage encased in fluffy white fungal growths
  • Brown spots, yellow/purple dry central
  • The leaves of the infected are wilting and then collapse.
  • Stems can be affected due to a serious infection that leads to them dying.

Control and Management

A good sanitation practice is the best option for tackling fungal leaf blight:

  • Get rid of dead plants or dead leaves
  • Avoid the use of overhead irrigation. It is better to avoid wetting the plants when you overwater them.
  • Be sure to use pure water to treat your elephant’s ear. Rainwater, distilled or even filtered, is the best choice.
  • Do not touch the plant (especially those leaves) after manipulating soil

Remove diseased or dead leaves that are dead or diseased. Use a dip or wipe on the tool with ruby alcohol to clean it each time you cut.

I typically employ copper-based fungicides to help ensure that I keep Phytophthora fungal leaf disease at the bay. Spray it onto the leafy part of your elephant’s ear with a lot of. Apply it every seven days if it’s damp (or after 14 days if the ear is dry) until you have a halt to the infection.

[4] Too Much Water

If you are watering your elephant too often, the excess water will accumulate around the edges of the leaves, which causes the leaves to turn brown. In the process, the leaves begin to rot and then turn brown around the edges and the tips. Like you would imagine, the browning process will continue and eventually take over the entire leaf surface.

Most of the time humid conditions can encourage spreading of fungal or bacterial illnesses and pests. They can also cause or speed up the process of browning leaves.

Signs of an Overwatered Elephant Ear Plant

  • Tips of brown leaves that have been soaked in water and edges
  • Edema can cause watery blisters on the leaves
  • Leaf becoming yellow and falling
  • Wet brown spots that are dark and dark caused by leaf spot disease
  • Small yellow spots on leaves near the soil, ground or the roots
  • Root rot


  • Remove and trim any leaves that have many brown spots that are soaked with water. Same goes for fallen, dead, and dying leaves.
  • Elephant ears don’t suffer too significantly by excessive watering. It is recommended that you put off irrigating for a few days to let it draw out excess water. Aeration, light intensity and ventilation will enable your soil to dry out quicker.
  • Make sure to drain any excess water that remains in the saucer.
  • If you notice rotting of the root it is necessary to trim away the rotten root, treat healthy roots with fungicide and plant them again.

[5] Pythium Rot

An infection of the elephant ear that is more serious as Phytophthora Leaf blight Pythium rot. Pythium pathogens, present within soils, can be the cause for the spread. The pathogen is spread mostly through irrigation water and thrives in soil that is excessively moist and in humid conditions.


The presence of roots beneath the soil line suggests that pythium rot is infected the ear of your elephant. They smell unpleasant and are spongy on the skin, and appear dark, discolored, or the appearance of rusty brown.

Beyond the soil, the most frequent symptoms and signs are:

  • Leaves that are yellowed or brown (this begins with lower and older leaves)
  • Growth that is uneven or stunted
  • The roots of stems
  • Leaves drooping
  • Pots with a fungus, particularly on the surface

Control and Management

It is essential to employ multi-prong strategies to manage and control pythium rot. The most crucial thing is to follow good hygiene methods.

  • Get rid from dead plants in a proper manner
  • Clean up your hands thoroughly (wash your hands and clean your tools) prior to working with your plants
  • Steam-sterilize the potting mix of your plant. Steaming at about 140degF(60degC) for about half an hour will eliminate Pythium species.
  • Make sure that the water you use for irrigation is clean and free of contaminants.
  • Make sure there’s plenty of airflow around your elephant’s ear.
  • Eliminate pests such as shore flies and fungus bugs as soon as you can. They could spread pathogens.

[6] Phyllosticta Leaf Spot

A fungus called Phyllosticta is what is the cause of the fungal leaf spot disease. In contrast to Phytophthora leaf blight, also known as pythium rot it is not often fatal to the elephant ear. But, it could ruin the appearance of your plant with ugly brown spots.


The first signs of the disease are the appearance of tiny oval or round lesions that are soaked in water. They may appear brown, black gray, or beige. They can grow large and then merge into massive blotches or patches that may cover the entire leaf.

The leaf spots dry out and fall away in some instances and leave scuffy holes in the leaves. This is why the elephant’s ear appears like it was shot with bullets.

In the event that Phyllosticta Leaf spot is the cause of the browning of your leaves, keep an eye out for leaves or stem loss on your elephant’s ears. The leaves that are severely infected may become yellow and then fall off.

Control and Management

The majority of infections occur due to contamination of water. Therefore, it’s important to use only pure irrigation water. Be careful not to splash the leaves while you water.

The use of sanitation practices can help in a significant way. Utilize sterilized gloves as well as other items of care when caring on your plants. Make sure you remove and take away dead leaves and plants that are thrown on your elephant’s ear.

Prune and spread out your plants in order to allow for plenty of air circulation. I strongly discourage watering overhead and also.

Take and dispose of the any affected leaves, or the entire plant into the trash bin that is covered.

The cultural controls are typically enough to stop Phyllosticta leaf spot. The majority of fungicides based on copper are effective to fight Phyllosticta leaf spot. But, you can also employ chemical remedies like propiconazole, mancozeb and copper hydroxide.

(Source: University of Massachusetts)

[7] Pest Infestation

A brown-colored appearance on the leaves of the elephant ear plant could be a sign of the beginning of a pest problem.

Examine the underside and top of the leaves for insects that are sucking sap from the leaves. They may also nibble on the edges of the leaves and leave brown marks.

Spider Mites

Signs: Look for spider mites on leaf’s back particularly in hot and dry conditions. The creepy bugs spin fine webbings to guard their colonies. They also leave gray streaks on the leaves.

How to Control Spider Mites
  • Make use of a powerful water stream to remove spiders from your elephant’s ears
  • Apply a horticultural oil , or insecticide soap to eliminate them and stop their return. I typically employ neem oil because it is natural safe for indoor use and efficient.
  • Utilize an insecticide or miticide (check the most current prices at Amazon this). Spray your elephant’s ear each 7-10 days until you are able to fight against the pest.


Signs: If you notice insects of tiny size that gather on the stems and leaves it’s an aphid infestation.

  • They suckers sap and produce honeydew. The leaves turn brown and sticky.
  • When the problem is severe it is common for the leaves to wilt or turn discolored and then droop.
  • Stunted growth can be seen when the population is huge
  • There are insects swarming around your elephant
  • Honeydew is the catalyst for the growth of mold that is black and sooty.
How to Control Aphids
  • One of the fastest and most efficient ways to eliminate aphids that are causing problems for the elephant’s back is blasting them out using water jets that are powerful.
  • It is also possible to squish the bugs and then wipe the leaves with cotton swabs that have been soaked in 70 percent isopropyl alcohol.
  • I have found that ready-to-use neem oil, or an insecticidal soap spray do the best job at eliminating Aphids. But, you should avoid using insecticidal soap if the air is dry and hot.


Signs: If you notice oval-shaped insects covered with waxy or white cottony filaments, then they are the main reason for the browning of leaves. They are usually found on stem nodes as well as along the veins of the leaf on the leaf’s undersides.

Mealybugs also sucking the sap of honeydew and release it. So, you’ll likely see some black mold. Ants could also be a source of this syrupy material.

If the numbers are large There will be generalized growth stunting and the leaves will begin to yellow. The leaves could also be covered in black spots.

How to Control Mealybugs
  • Aphids on the spot that you detect using an alcohol-dipped cotton pad or swipe
  • Make use of insecticidal soap or an oil to apply a spray all across the leaf of your elephant’s ear.
  • Examine your elephant’s ear each week and spray it again until you are rid of the insects.
  • Inspire natural predators to reduce the aphid population. I suggest bringing flowers that tempt syrphid flies larvae of lacewings, soldier beetles and lady beetles.

[8] Extremely Low Humidity

Elephant ears prefer warmer, humid climates. Certain species thrive in moist regions in Hawaii. If the air around the elephant’s ear is dry and the leaves change color to brown.


In the event that low-humidity is the cause The following signs will be evident:

  • Edges of leaves that have burned or browned and the tips
  • Leaves appear curled and wrinkled
  • The leaves are dried and crisp on the outside


  • Increase the humidity around your elephant’s ears to tackle the problem. The majority of browning leaves bounce back when misting.
  • Place your potted plant on a tray of water, topped with pebbles
  • You might want to set up a humidifier in your elephant’s ear.

[9] Fertilizer Burn

The elephant’s ear is a large eater. It is essential regularly feed it with fertilizer to increase the nutrients contained in the potter’s mix. Every month, apply a fertilizer that is water-soluble.

If you apply excessive fertilizer, the salts will accumulate in the soil and ignite the roots, causing the leaves turning brown.


  • Lower leaves will begin to wilt and then turn yellow.
  • The salt of fertilizer is deposited over the top of the potting mix
  • Margins of the leaf with browning and the tips
  • The loss of leaves, and slowing or none at all


  • Be careful not to overfertilize your elephant’s ear.
  • Fertilize your elephant’s ear every two weeks during the spring and summer. It is possible to use organic fertilizers or a water-soluble high-nitrogen houseplant fertilizer.
  • The elephant plant should be irrigated at the top until the liquid drains out of the drain holes at the bottom. This will aid in washing any salt residue from the mix of potting.
  • It is possible to repotte your elephant ear again. This is particularly the case when there’s a large amount of salt crusts on the soil’s the surface.

Is It Normal for Elephant Ear Leaves to Turn Brown?

In certain instances the leaves that were once on your elephant’s ear will dry up then wilt and turn brown as they get older. Naturally, they’ll fall down. It’s the natural method to get rid of old vegetation to allow for new growth and redirect resources towards it.

How to Prevent Brown Leaves on Elephant Ear Plant

  • Offer bright, filtered or indirect light
  • Make sure your elephant’s ears are protected from direct sunlight. An area close to an east-facing window would be ideal.
  • Maintain the soil in a consistent and evenly moist. It shouldn’t dry completely.
  • Keep a consistent watering schedule Afford to water your plants early in the morning can benefit it. Beware of irrigating your foliage from above and then wetting the leaves.
  • Put it in the bathroom or install an air humidifier to give it an environment that is humid during the winter dry months..
  • Improve air circulation to prevent overheating. Also, stay away from areas that are near radiators or heating sources to prevent overheating. In the summer heat take your plant inside.


Went from a bad gardener to a half-decent one over 10+ years. Super happy to share my tips and tricks with you :)