Effect Description:

Toxins can be absorbed by a plant through the air, soil or water. Anything from hairsprays and furniture polishes to chemicals in tap water can harm your plants if they are exposed to the chemicals long enough. The fluoride in tap water has recently come under scrutiny for causing damage to plants.

Some insecticides can actually make matters worse for an ailing plant if the manufacturer’s instructions are not followed because of the aerosols in spray cans. Take great care when using sprays of any kind near to plants to avoid adverse effects.

Exhaust from heating equipment indoors, things like kerosene heaters and sources of outdoors exhaust pollution, your lawn care gear for example can have negative effects on your plants. Be sure to limited the exposure both your indoor and outdoor plants have to such contaminants.

Symptoms and Damage:

The symptoms of toxin exposure are mainly browning and ‘crisping” at the edges and tips of the plants leaves. Unfortunately little can be done with the destroyed tissue except carefully trim it off with scissors, taking care to only cut the brown dry sections.

When brown tips and edges begin to appear it is important to examine the plant and the conditions it grows in carefully. Browning tips and leaves could signify other issues as well. 

First Aid for Toxins

Treating a plant for exposure to toxins involves removing the source of the pollutant from the plant so it’s important to eliminate the possible origin of the contamination. Start by asking yourself these questions for clues:

  • Are you remembering to allow tap water to sit uncovered for at least 24 hours before using it to water your plants?
  • Have you changed your fertilizing schedule or brand of fertilizer?
  • Have your recently done house-keeping around the affected plants using polishes or cleaners?
  • Are the plants near windows which may be letting in outdoor air pollutants?
  • If the problem plants are outdoors have you been sure to keep up the maintenance on your lawn care equipment?

Additional Considerations:

One thing to remember when dealing with plant disasters is remain calm, and not over-react. It’s easy to cause more damage when trying to save your favorite green friend so staying calm and carefully thinking it through is always the best option.

  • Rainwater can be an excellent source of clean water if you can collect it.

Follow manufacturer’s instructions for fertilizers and insecticides, especially spray varieties