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The P&PDL Picture of the Week
for 24 November 2003

Fluoride Toxicity in Spider Plants

Rosie Lerner, Extension Consumer Horticulture Specialist, Purdue University

This Spider Plant has brown tips on most of its leaves, and in some cases, the browning is progressing up the leaf edge. Although several different factors, such as drought, overwatering, low humidity, nutrient deficiency, and excessive salt buildup, could be blamed, the most common cause is excessive flouride. Many common houseplants are sensitive to flouride including spider plant, Dracaena, Cordyline, as are many cut-flowers including Alstromeria, Gladiolus, Freesia, Rose, and Snapdragon.

Fluoride can be found in municipal water, superphosphate fertilizer and even in some soil amendments that are commonly used in potting mix. The plants aren't likely to die from fluoride toxicity, but it does make the plants rather unsightly. The brown tips can be trimmed off of the leaves, but if the problem continues, use rain or distilled water and avoid fertilizers containing superphosphate.

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Last updated: 24 November 2003/amd
The Plant & Pest Diagnostic Laboratory at Purdue University