Department of Energy Argonne National Laboratory Office of Science NEWTON's Homepage NEWTON's Homepage
NEWTON, Ask A Scientist!
NEWTON Home Page NEWTON Teachers Visit Our Archives Ask A Question How To Ask A Question Question of the Week Our Expert Scientists Volunteer at NEWTON! Frequently Asked Questions Referencing NEWTON About NEWTON About Ask A Scientist Education At Argonne Frozen Leaf Removal
Name: Eric
Status: other
Grade: other
Location: Outside U.S.
Country: USA
Date: N/A 

My split leaf philodendrun froze and the outer leaves turned black. My landlord says that I should remove them because the plant will kill itself trying to keep them alive. All the gardening sites on the net agree with him but this make no sense: plants don't push nutrients to leaves--leaves pull them up the stock via capillary action and transpiration. If the leaf is dead there will be no pulling. I am proposing to leave the dead leaves in place until danger of frost is gone to protect the lower leaves. Is this story about plants expending energy on dead leaves true? It makes no sense when you think of how a leaf works.

Black leaves are dead since they can no longer photosynthesize. They should be removed (pruned) to allow in more light to the green parts of the plant, and to minimize the presence of fungi on the leaves, which would act to decompose the dead leaf material.

Anthony R. Brach, PhD
Missouri Botanical Garden c/o Harvard University Herbaria

Click here to return to the Botany Archives

NEWTON is an electronic community for Science, Math, and Computer Science K-12 Educators, sponsored and operated by Argonne National Laboratory's Educational Programs, Andrew Skipor, Ph.D., Head of Educational Programs.

For assistance with NEWTON contact a System Operator (, or at Argonne's Educational Programs

Educational Programs
Building 360
9700 S. Cass Ave.
Argonne, Illinois
60439-4845, USA
Update: June 2012
Weclome To Newton

Argonne National Laboratory