Wandering Jews or Tradescantias are garden beauties with vivid foliage. These creeping plants are native to Mexico but can also be adapted to different climatic conditions.
However, in-home gardens they seem to be suffering from multiple stresses which can lead to leaf browning. If such a condition prolongs, eventually your wandering jew will end up living.
Don’t worry, I’m here today to enlighten you with some easy-to-go ideas on how you can fix such problems in your Tradescantia. I’ll discuss some common issues like proper watering, environmental stress management, and controlling diseases and insects.
So, what are we waiting for? Let’s jump into the details without further ado.
Why is my wandering jew turning brown? [Causes & Fixes]
1. Irregular watering
Wandering Jews are quite sensitive to watering. Often they seem to be suffering from improper watering.
Both over and lack of watering can cause your wandering jew leaves turning brown. So, let’s take a look at the fixes quickly.
Normally it’s okay to water your plants once a week. But if your soil is drying up faster and wandering jew plant is dying at the base you may need to water more frequently.
You may need to water properly when soil drying is prominent at the top layers, mostly 2.5 to 5 centimeters from the surface. Make sure that all the water is drained out. Otherwise soggy conditions can cause root damage in your plants.
If your plants are already wilted due to a lack of water, you can practice the basin drenching method. All you have to do is to submerge your pot in a water-filled basin for 10 to 15 minutes. After that, lift it up and place its regular condition. Such repeated watering for 2 to 3 times can revive your dying wandering jew.
Here’s a reminder, always check the drainage hole of your pot. If it gets clogged your wandering jew can be overwatered easily.
Still, if you find things tricky, a moisture meter can help you a lot in determining the appropriate level for watering.(Our Pick: XLUX Soil Moisture Meter)
To know thoroughly about watering wandering jew plants, you can check my article –How often to water wandering
2. Low Humidity
Humidity is an important criterion that ensures the good health of your houseplants. Not everyone will tell you, but trust me if your wandering jew leaves are turning yellow, you might be baffled by the low humidity in the surroundings. And these yellow leaves take no longer to turn brown.
So, you need to find out some way as soon as possible. Let me help you with this.
Misting your wandering jew helps a lot in increasing the humidity. When the air is too dry you can practice such tricks.
I would recommend you spray some water surrounding the houseplants a couple of times a week depending on the air condition. However, prolonged wetting conditions can easily cause stem and leaf rot. So the best time for misting your plant would be the morning as the water can dry up till the afternoon.
If you find such regular misting a bit hassling, the pebble tray method can also get your job done. In this method, you have to place your wandering jew in a tray filled with tiny pebbles. Then put some water in the tray in such a manner that half of the pebbles remain underwater. With time water will evaporate and this will increase the humidity of the surroundings.
Did you know the microclimate of your wandering jew can be manipulated with the other houseplants? Yes, you heard it right. Just place some plants which have a faster transpiration rate around your wandering jew and they will increase the moisture level in the air on their own.
Keeping a check on the ventilation of the room where your plants are placed is something you should never miss. However, a humidifier can help increase the humidity automatically. So, if you can afford it, don’t forget to give it a shot.
3. Inappropriate Sun Exposure
Have you ever noticed that your wandering jew leaves fading and losing their bright color day by day? These are the initial stages of browning leaves.
The main reason behind such discoloration can be prolonged exposure to scorching sunlight. Even sometimes lack of sunlight can also cause fading and browning of leaves.
Well, some easy tricks and tips can help you in dealing with such problems in wandering jew plants. Take a look at what I got for you.
Once the leaves are totally burnt due to scorching sunlight, it’s quite impossible to get them back. Nevertheless, you can always cut off the burnt patches on the leaves. So, it’s better to focus on how you can save your wandering jew from excessive sun exposure.
The very first thing you can do is to move your plants to an area away from direct sunlight. Here you can remove the dead brown leaves. Then just water your plants properly to recover from the shock and stress from the sun.
Most of the time the placement depends on the climate of the region you’re living in. On bright sunny days, it’s wise to keep the wandering jew in a shaded place at home. On the other hand, in winter they’ll enjoy a bit of warmth near the windows.
However, it’s safe to place your wandering jew towards the east or west-facing windows during other seasons for adequate sunlight. You can also install some adjustable LED lights near your plants.
Finally, I would suggest you monitor your plants more often to ensure the exact amount of exposure to the sun.
4. Pest Damage
Insect and pest damage can lead to the browning of leaves in wandering Jews over time. It all starts with small brown spots and ends up decaying the leaves.
So, you need to be aware of aphids and other leaf-sucking insects. Let’s check what you can do to save your wandering Jews from these.
I would recommend you start with splashing water targeting the leaves to wash off such insects. This is the easiest and most efficient method of all.
But if the damage is severe this may not work. In such a case neem oil may help you. 2% neem oil concentration is made for treating insect damage in houseplants. It’s a mild formulation and you may reapply this for 7 to 10 days until all the aphids are gone.
You can also pick a garden-safe insecticide to control pest damage in wandering Jews. (Our pick: Monterey LG 6145 70% Neem Oil Ready-To-Spray Insecticide, Miticide, & Fungicide)
5. Root and Stem Rots
You might have observed that the wandering jew stems are turning brown and brown spots are prevailing on them. This can be an indication that your plant roots are not doing well.
Root and vine damage can lead to hindrance in the translocation of necessary water and minerals to other plant parts which can turn the leaves brown and decay.
So, let’s check how you can combat such conditions without any delay.
The very first culprit of soggy and mushy root and base stem can be overwatering. That’s why I would suggest you follow the proper watering guide as I have mentioned before.
If you have accidentally overwatered your plant and the base soil is too wet, you can put some charcoal powder there. This will easily absorb the excess water and after that, you can discard them from your pot.
You can check more details on handling overwatered wandering jew plants in my article (wandering_jew_overwatered)
In case of severe rots, you can smell some bad odor from the base. That’s the time when you need to remove the rotten roots and vines as soon as possible. Always use sharp shears to cut them with minimal injury and don’t forget to sanitize them afterward.
As root rot is a fungal problem, this can spread quite faster than you imagine. So, it’s safe to pick a garden fungicide when needed.
Finally, I’ll recommend you repot your plants with proper care so that vines and roots are least disturbed and this will reduce the chance of spreading rot fungus.
Aging is inevitable. With time your wandering jew will lose some of the leaves through the browning process and it’s natural.
However, with some management practices, you’ll still be able to manage your wandering jew looking good and healthy. Let’s check these out.
With aging, the middle leaves of wandering Jews tend to get brown before shedding off. In such conditions, it’s better to prune the vines above the browning region.
You can always use the healthy stems as propagules to grow a new wandering jew. This can be done in the same pot as the previous one or you can grow in brand-new media too.
7. Excessive Use of Fertilizers
Being a gardener you might have heard of fertilizer toxicity or fertilizer burn. Overuse of any type of fertilizer can cause leaf and root burn in your wandering jew.
To control such damage you can follow my instructions.
Over fertilized wandering jew fails to uptake water and necessary minerals due to the salt accumulation in the pot. You may notice a salt crust at the surface soil. In such a case, you have to remove such a layer and then water heavily to leach off any excess salt.
However, wandering Jews don’t need much fertilizer at a time. One or two doses during spring and summer do the job. It’s advised not to put fertilizers in winter. Always pick proper and balanced fertilizers specially formulated for houseplants. (our pick: Miracle-Gro Indoor Plant Food)
Is It Okay To Remove Brown Leaves From Wandering Jews?
Well, it’s always a wise idea to remove the dried and dead leaves from your wandering jew. You can also do the same to the leaves that are on the verge of drying. Just ensure one thing that doesn’t disturb the stems while removing the dead leaves. Cutting off directly is advised over pinching to discard the chance of stem damage.
Do the wandering jews spread?
Some species of wandering Jews have quite spreading vines that can conquer the other plants in your garden. If you want to avoid such a situation, try not to pick any invasive species and grow them in separate containers.
My wandering jew roots are still rotting even after cutting them off. What to do?
As I have mentioned before rotting is a fungal disease that may be happening due to some sort of contamination. Try to sterilize your pruning equipment properly and put some rooting hormones after removing the rotten parts.
Finally, I’ve come to the end. Before calling it a day, let’s sum up a bit.
To control browning leaves and prevent further damage in wandering jew you have to take care of the environmental stresses. Also, limit the use of any excess chemicals and keep going with the management practices I’ve mentioned. Trust me you won’t regret it.
Come back to my articles whenever you need some help. Happy growing!
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