7 Causes of Sky Pencil Holly Turning Brown [Control Measure]

Overwatering, high temperature, dry wind, over-fertilization, pest and disease attacks are the common detrimental causes that can make your sky pencil holly plant brown.

Ilex crenata or Japanese sky pencil holly is a unique plant that can decorate your house. But what if you see your sky pencil holly plant turning brown? That’s why I want to explain the solutions so that you can save your holly plant. 

Here is a quick solution to the problems that may arise in your plant.



OverwateringWater the plant when it is dry 
High temperature Keep your plant in a cool place
Dry windSprinkle water around the leaves
High humidity Keep the humidity level near 50%
Over-fertilization Fertilize your plant once in spring
Nutrient deficiency Supply enough amount of nutrients by using liquid fertilizers
PestsUse insecticide or homemade recipes 
Diseases Use bactericide or neem oil recipe 

Why Is My Sky Pencil Holly Turning Brown – 8 Causes With Perfect Solution

holly plant brown leaves

1. Overwatering

If you want to enlist the causes of sky pencil holly browning, I will suggest you start the list with excessive watering. Watering is a major issue for sky pencil holly. If you water more than is necessary, it will stop its internal activities due to root rot.

Again, the uptaking process of water and nutrients will be damaged. Thus, the plant system will remain devastated and later it will be expressed through brown leaves which will end in plants’ death.

Control Measure

Don’t water much of your water. You have to provide a moderate amount when at least 2 inches of the soil gets dry. 

2. High Temperature

High temperature is detrimental for sky pencil holly. As sky pencil holly is not a drought-resistant plant, the excessive amount of water stress can make their leaves dry. Dry leaves cannot take part in the photosynthesis process. As a result, they cannot produce food and the leaves become brown due to this reason.

Control Measure

Sky pencil holly loves to grow in moderate temperature which ranges between 55-85°F. Try to maintain such temperature during summer. If you are from a temperate region, bring up this plant as an indoor plant to save you from scorching heat.

3. Dry Wind

The third one is dry wind. Dry wind can harm the plant system more than high temperatures or excessive sunlight. Dry wind removes the amount of air from the microclimate of the plant. As a result, plants transpire more water and make the water level almost zero inside the cell. 

In this case, the plant needs more water at the root level to supply the leaves. If there is any shortage of water at the root level, the plant gets dry and the leaves become brown. Sometimes, plants cannot maintain the moisture in the leaves despite the presence of enough water.

Control Measure

Try to maintain the perfect moisture level around the leaves. Water your plant regularly during hot weather. If there is excessive dry wind, you can sprinkle water on the leaves with a sprinkler. (our pick). You may also increase humidity by using a humidifier. (Our Pick)

4. High humidity

High humidity indicates the presence of excessive amounts of water in the air. Sky pencil holly neither survives well in low humidity nor high humidity. Too much humidity hinders the transpiration process. Consequently, the plant cannot remove its extra water which may create fermentation inside the cell constituents.

Thus, the part pigments of the leaves become devastated and the food production gets slower which slows the overall body metabolism. 

Control Measure

Remove your plant from such a place where it may get high humidity. The humidity level can be checked by a humidity meter (Our pick). You should keep your plant in warm places like near the windows.

5. Over-fertilization

The next one is the over-fertilization problem that is caused due to using excessive fertilizers which is not necessary for the plant. Sky pencil holly doesn’t need much fertilizer. 

Too much fertilizer burns the leaves and internal veins of the plant. That’s why the leaves become brown, having a fire-burnt look. Sometimes, fertilizing methods may also affect them negatively. If you insert fertilizer sticks in the root zone, it will be problematic for the plant.

Control Measure

Sky pencil holly needs fertilizing once a year during spring before the flowering season. You can use liquid fertilizers as they are slow-releasing. They won’t enter the plant body at a time. 

You should dilute the fertilizer in the water and then pour it into the plant soil during watering. Don’t fertilize your plant regularly. Otherwise, the beautiful leaves will be brown.

6. Nutrient deficiency

Then, I will talk to you about their nutrient deficiency which is mainly caused due to the absence of iron. Iron is an essential micronutrient that must be present in the plant. If this element is absent along with others, the plant may stunt growth and the leaves become pale and brown.

Control Measure

Fertilize your plant once in spring. The nitrogen, phosphorus and potassium percentage should be balanced inside the plant. You can use organic fertilizers like mustard oil cake and cow dung in your plant. 1 kg of organic fertilizer is enough for a sky pencil holly plant.

7. Pests

Now, come to the point of pests that can destroy the prettiness of your beautifully maintained plant. Insects that affect the sky pencil holly are-

  • Spider mites
  • Mealybug 
  • Aphid
  • Scale

Let’s have the solutions to these problems. 

Control Measure

The easiest way to control these insects is hand-picking. Remove them from the leaves by hand. But you can do this only if they are small in number.

If you see that the insect population is large and tough to pluck by hand, you can use homemade solutions or industrial chemicals to remove them. But If you are in a rush or the materials needed for homemade solutions are not available, you can take an insecticide (Our pick) and spray it on your plant. 

If you want to try homemade solutions before using chemicals, then here are some recipes for your convenience-

  • Recipe-1: Baking soda solution 

Take 4 teaspoons of baking soda in 1 gallon of water. Mix them well and spray them on your plant.

  • Recipe-2: Neem oil recipe 

Mix 1 teaspoon of concentrated neem oil, ¼ teaspoon of aloe vera powder, a few drops of essential oil and ½ teaspoon of liquid soap into 1 gallon of water. Spray to your plant after mixing them properly. 

8. Diseases

Finally, I want to discuss the diseases that may affect sky pencil holly plants. The common diseases are-

  • Botryosphaeria canker
  • Rhizoctonia aerial blight or web blight
  • Leaf spot
  • Root rot

To save your plant from these diseases, follow the control measures.

Control Measure

If you get your plant attacked with different diseases, the first thing you need to do is to remove the affected parts of the plant so that the microbes cannot disseminate to other healthy parts.

Then, you can use industrial bactericides or fungicides or homemade recipes as some microorganisms may remain inside the plant without expressing any symptoms. If you want a quick solution, you can use bactericides. Otherwise, you may use a neem oil recipe or baking soda solution as I explained earlier.

How To Save My Sky Pencil Holly?

Sky Pencil Holly Pruning

To save sky pencil holly, you need to be conscious from the very beginning of planting. Planting time, maintenance procedure and fertilizer requirement are crucial factors to save your plant from browning leaves.

Best Time To Plant Sky Pencil Holly

The perfect time for planting sky pencil holly is after the winter period. The immature small plants cannot withstand adverse conditions easily. After the winter, the summer takes a time to come and thus the plant gets its time to prepare itself for the unwanted conditions. 

Though sky pencil holly can be planted at any time, you can save your leaves from browning by completing your planting at this time.

Sky Pencil Holly Pruning

Next, you have to do regular pruning of your plant. The matured leaves should be removed. Thus, the new leaves will get more vigorous as the plant doesn’t need to supply food and nutrition in those falling leaves.

Again, pruning helps the inner leaves to be exposed to sunlight which is needed for increasing their food production. That’s why they need pruning. 

Fertilizer For Sky Pencil Holly

Fertilizers using mechanisms can also save your plant. Some fertilizers are found in solid stalks. If you use them, you have to insert them far from the root zone. Inserting them in the root may burn the leaves. 

So, be conscious of using solid fertilizers. Otherwise, you may use liquid fertilizers which are slow-releasing and beneficial for the plant.

Problems Related To Sky Pencil Holly Turning Brown

Sky pencil holly turning brown may be caused due to different types of reasons. But sometimes, you may get some additional symptoms with this browning which may make you sure of some specific problems. 

Sky Pencil Holly Dead Branches

In most cases, sky pencil holly turns brown with dead branches. This problem is mainly caused by fungal attacks. In the first stage, only a few branches get brown and they die after a few days. If you don’t remove those branches, the other branches will be affected and the whole plant will die after some days.

You should spray fungicide or neem oil on your plant after removing the dead branches from the plant.

Sky Pencil Holly Leaves Turning Yellow

Yellow leaves are mainly caused due to viral attacks and underwatering. Viruses stop the production of chlorophyll and hinder the food production processes. As a result, the plant body mechanism is injured and it gets susceptible to any kind of problems. 

Underwatering also makes the leaves dry and in absence of enough water, the leaves cannot make enough food for their improvement. 

Sky Pencil Holly Crispy Leaves

Again, you may get your sky pencil holly leaves becoming crispy which occurred due to underwatering. When the leaves become excessively dry, the margins become fragile, the leaves become crispy and finally, they fall.

How Do You Care For a Sky Pencil Holly?

SoilSlightly acidic soil 
WateringOnce a week
Temperature 55°F to 85°F
Humidity Around 50%
SunlightFull sunlight to partial shading
FertilizersUse dilute fertilizers  


May The Brown Leaves Turn Green Again?

Ans: No. The brown leaves may not turn green again as their pigments have already gotten ruined. The only thing you can do is save your other leaves or other parts of the plants from getting brown by different causes.

Is sky pencil holly poisonous?

Ans: Yes, but not severely. It may show a little allergic condition to the susceptible persons or may be toxic to dogs and cats. Otherwise, it is safe to keep in your house.

What part of the plant is used for propagation?

Ans: You can use root cutting or stem cutting for propagating sky pencil holly plants. Just cut a stem part and put them in a prepared soil or water jar. The root will come out from there. 

Does sky pencil holly browning lead to death?

Ans: Yeah! If you don’t sort out the problem of the sky pencil holly plant though seeing the brown leaves, it may lead to the plant’s death. 

Final Thoughts

Here, I have to end my discussions about the sky pencil holly turning brown. Though it is a hardy plant, several problems can be seen in this plant in case of negligence. 

If you look closely at your plant, you can easily identify the reasons for your plant’s browning. Match those reasons to my experienced problems and grab the solution. Hopefully, you will be relieved of that problem and get a healthy plant.

James Rivenburg
James Rivenburg
James Rivenburg

James Rivenburg is the founder of plantandpest.com, a passionate gardener with valuable experience and knowledge gained through trial and error. The website has a large community of followers who trust his tips and techniques and have succeeded with his advice. He is always Committed to helping others create a beautiful and healthy garden.

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