butterwort leaves turning brown

Butterwort Leaves Turning Brown? Here’s How To Fix It!

Butterwort leaves turn brown typically due to Browning Heart Disease. A rapid rise in temperatures can also turn the leaves brown in Butterworts.

Butterworts are kept indoors for their looks. They look great with flat, sticky leaves(upper side of the leaves).

Butterworts are easy to care for. They don’t run into issues often. But, some people see browning of leaves in their Butterworts.

There can be various reasons why this happens.

People often report to me that their Butterwort leaves are turning brown. This may happen due to Browning heart disease(centre-to-edge rosette death), Sun stress, uneven watering, or soil quality.

Butterwort Plant SymptomsPotential Causes
Browning of the leaves starts from the center. It spreads in days to the periphery.Browning Heart disease
The browning starts from the tip of the leaves and spreads to the center of the rosette.caused by a rapid rise in temperatures
Roots get rotten and the leaves turn brownImproper Watering
Too much direct sunlight can turn the leaves brownSunstress

Browning Heart Disease

This is a deadly disease that affects pings and kills them eventually.

My plants went through this a year ago. At that time, I just thought the plants were just sun-stressed. Boy, was I wrong?

Experts say this disease is very common in Mexican pinguiculas.

This epidemic disease occurs in hot summer (or in hot terrariums).

Browning starts from the center

If the plant is affected by this disease, the browning of the leaves starts from the center. It spreads in days to the periphery.

Once the plant gets infected, it shows a loss of vigor, and no new foliage is seen. The usual growth is not seen in infected plants.

The plant gets stunted!

The affected plants’ leaves are non-mucilaginous and dull green in color. If you take a look at the roots, no young roots are produced.

Healthy roots become brown, shrivel, and die. The rootless base of the plant becomes a black stump and looks like a taproot.

The base of the leaf petiole turns brown and in a couple of days, the center of the plant becomes black and then dies.

Surprisingly, the tips of the leaves are still green even when the bases turn brown.

Fungal infections aided by Nematodes

Browning heart disease in pinguiculas is caused by a fungus called FusariumThe fungus itself cannot attack the plant directly(as the fungal hyphae and spores cannot penetrate the hard roots).

Browning heart death in Mexican Pinguicula is caused by a combined effort of  Nematodes and a fungus Fusarium.

Female nematodes enter the healthy roots of butterworts. This causes numerous injuries in the roots of butterworts.

It is through these wounds the fungal spores enter the plant and cause the disease.

These fungal spores enter the roots and that’s why the disease starts in the center and spreads to the periphery.

How to deal with Browning heart disease

You’d not want to see your plant affected by this disease. The affected plant literally dies in days!

The best way to deal with this is to prevent this.

  • Make sure you’re not overwatering your plants.
  • Do not keep multiple plants in the same tray, one infected plant will spread the infection to others.
  • A fungicide like Quintozene could control the fungus effectively.
  • Fungicides containing 140 g/l. of Oxyquinoline Potassium Sulfate like Fongiclor, Cryptonol, and Dericlor can kill this fungus too.
  • Make sure your plants get abundant light.
  • Separate the infected plants, improve the ventilation, and keep the plants as dry as possible. If done right, new growth of foliage is seen!

Rosette edge to center death

This sudden death is seen in Southeastern US Pinguicula. The symptoms appear in late winter/early spring.

This is caused by a rapid rise in temperatures. The browning starts from the tip of the leaves and spreads to the center of the rosette.

This isn’t caused by a pathogen. This is caused by a sudden rise in temperatures.

Once the disorder is seen, there is no way to revive the plant. The best practice is to prevent this disease.

Slower elevation of the temperature is the only way to prevent this disorder. Make sure your plant doesn’t get temperature-stressed.

Improper Watering

Unlike most other carnivorous plants, tropical butterworts are prone to rotting if the soil is too wet. Keep the soil moist by top watering whenever the top soil begins to feel dry.

It’s alright to pour water over your plant! Mucilage washed off the leaves will be replaced within the day. Avoid letting the soil dry out completely.

If you prefer, you may keep your plant in small amounts of water, no more than 1/4 of the way up the pot. If you use this method of watering, add more water only when the water evaporates completely from your tray.

How do you take care of Butterwort?

If you care for your butterwort properly, it won’t be affected by any diseases and disorders. Let’s see how you can do this.

How often should I water Butterwort?

Watering your ping properly goes a long way in preventing such diseases.

Overwatering is the main cause of root rot. Try to water your plant just enough. Only water when the soil(up to 2 inches) is a little wet.

Do not let the soil become soggy. Moist soil houses a variety of pests. Use distilled water, RO water, or rainwater for the best results.

Water consciously!

Place a saucer beneath the pot and fill it so that it has 1/4th to 1/2th of an inch. This way the plant takes up water whenever it needs some.

Normally watering butterworts people tend to damage younger parts of the shoot. This doesn’t happen when you put the plant in a tray.

If you are using a potting medium like peat moss/perlite sand in a 50/50 ratio, then water the pot as soon as you see some dryness in the peat. Do not let it dry out completely.

Quality of the soil

Soil plays an important role in the health of a Pinguicula. If the soil outdoors is suitable for the growth of this plant, you can grow it outside.

If you are planning to grow it indoors, mix equally peat moss and perlite. This medium is acidic and drains excess water.

Note: Never add any nutrients or fertilizer to your plant, adding them will eventually kill the plant.


Humidity plays a vital role in the health of a Butterwort plant. In general, they need good humidity to produce that sticky substance on their leaves.

They can get acclimated to low humidity conditions. But, then they wouldn’t be able to satisfy their nutritional needs.

Optimal conditions can be achieved by placing the plant inside a plastic/glass dome with holes. Fancy terrariums can work too.

If you don’t want to put the plant in a terrarium/dome, you’ll need to mist it frequently. This assures your plant has abundant humidity.

Note: Never put your plant in a terrarium if you put it outdoors or under direct sun.


Butterworts grow in the partial shade of other plants. They can handle 12-15 hours of indirect light every day.

If you wanna provide artificial lighting, lights ranging from 5500K to 6500K would suffice. Place the light 12-18 inches away from the plant.

Slowly acclimate your plant to light. If you place it near a window, keep it for 6 hours in its first week. Increase the time under light gradually.

If you are using artificial lighting, you can do the same. Alternatively, you can increase the lighting intensity too.

Final Thoughts

  • It’s normal for butterworts to lose old leaves, which are replaced by new growth.
  • Keep the soil consistently moist.
  • Healthy butterworts produce dew on their leaves.
  • Changes in humidity can affect dew production.
  • Following these care tips will lead to a healthy butterwort.

Happy gardening 🙂

While you’re here read our awesome article on why pitcher plants’ leaves are yellowing.