Causes Of Pothos Leaves Curling And How To Fix

As houseplants go, Pothos is one of the easiest to look after, being capable of tolerating even less than favorable conditions.

Nonetheless, curled leaves on your Pothos can occur and it is usually an indication that your plant is in distress. The challenge comes in figuring out what is causing the stress.

It’s a frustration that I am all too familiar with, but this guide will help you identify all the possible causes of Pothos leaves curling and how to fix them.  

Why Are The Leaves Of My Pothos Curling?

The stress that causes curling Pothos leaves can be caused by a variety of conditions.

The most common culprits are changes in temperature or light conditions, inconsistent watering, insufficient soil conditions and drainage, and pests or diseases.

Though they are pretty resilient plants, exposure over an extended period – even to just one of these poor care practices could result in curled leaves on your Pothos.

Pothos Leaves Curling

If leaf curl is the only visible symptom, then it is likely that your Pothos is dehydrated. Check the moisture levels in the soil by inserting a finger 1-2 inches below the surface of the soil. If it’s dry, your plant will need a drink.

When it comes to hydration in a healthy plant, water is absorbed via the roots to the stems and leaves. This process is crucial to the success of photosynthesis in the leaves. When it doesn’t work, the leaves curl to conserve energy.

If dry soil is not to blame and you have noticed symptoms other than just leaf curl, then it is worth considering some other possible causes which I’ve specified below. Remember, it’s crucial to work out what the primary cause of the stress is. It just takes a little patience to research.

Pothos Leaves Curling and Yellow

If you have noticed your Pothos leaves curling, but also turning brown or yellow, then this too could be an indication of dehydration. In this case, however, dehydration is caused by waterlogged soil that is preventing roots from absorbing nutrients and oxygen.

When plants are overwatered, roots become saturated with water which in turn leads to root rot. When this occurs, roots are unable to function correctly. As a result, water and nutrients are not able to travel through the plant, and the visible outcome is dehydrated leaves. 

Pothos need to be planted in well-draining soil and in pots with drainage holes.

If you are concerned about your plant’s drainage, consider changing the pot or container for one with larger drainage holes. In addition, try using perlite or grit that acts as a natural filtration system. This will also increase airflow.

Pothos Leaves Curling Inward, Downward Or Up

Too much or too little water, or changing temperatures, can be the cause of Pothos leaves curling upwards or down.

Fluctuating temperatures can have a significant impact on the health of plants in general.

It is usual that eaves will curl up to keep warm if they become too cold. Conversely, if your plant becomes too hot, the leaves of your plant will dry out and shrivel. Both concerns can be resolved by adjusting the temperature or moving your plant to better lighting.

Pothos leaves tend to curl inwards and hang low due to heat stress that is caused by temperatures that are too high. Temperatures above 85 degrees Fahrenheit are too hot for Pothos.

If the room temperature remains above 85 degrees for an extended period, or if the leaves are exposed to direct sunlight for an extended amount of time, their leaves may suffer.

Pothos Leaves Curling And Drooping

Underwatering may be to blame if you notice your Pothos has curled and drooping leaves.

Check the moisture in the soil with your finger to see if it’s dry; if it is, give the plant a drink and wait a few hours to see whether the leaves uncurl.

New Leaves Curling

The only exception to unhealthy curling leaves is if your plant is sprouting new growth. The curling of young leaves is totally natural. As they mature, they should completely unfurl on their own.

Problems are likely to exist if the surrounding, mature leaves are curled as well or if the young leaves never uncurl. Any of the causes above could be causing this, and often it is young leaves that are the first to reveal it.

Causes of Pothos Leaves Curling And How To Fix

Overwatering Or Underwatering

Over and underwatering is a common problem among houseplant owners. When my weeks get busy, sometimes my plant’s care slips my mind. Luckily, Pothos can handle some inconsistent watering.

When your Pothos has been overwatered, it means there is excess water in the soil which prevents oxygen from reaching the plant’s roots. If you do not catch this problem quickly, it can cause root rot which disrupts the supply of important nutrients to the stems and leaves. In response, the leaves curl to retain the water that they have left.

Just because Pothos are low maintenance doesn’t mean that you can just forget it and expect it to live. Curling leaves are most commonly caused by underwatering.

Similar to plants that have been overwatered, leaves curl to hold on to the water that they have left. Leaves can wilt and fall off if the condition is not resolved.

How often should I water Pothos Plant?

On average Pothos need watering every five days in the spring and fall. In the summer and winter, I recommend watering them every ten days.

It’s worth bearing in mind that watering schedules will differ depending on the region you live in and the temperature both indoors and outside. Warmer climates mean that water will evaporate quicker, and your plant will need watering more often.

I recommend that before each watering, stick a finger 1 to 2 inches into the soil to check the moisture level. If the soil is damp or moist, check back in a few days and only water when the soil is almost dry.

If you are new to plant parenting, I would recommend that you purchase a plant moisture meter. You can find these at most home and garden stores.

How do you fix Overwatered Pothos?

Fixing an overwatered plant need not be complicated. The first thing to do is stop watering your plant and wait until the soil is dry before watering again.

Use the ‘finger test’ method that I’ve described above to determine when your plant needs watering and chuck out your previous watering schedule!

It’s also worth considering if your Pothos is planted in well-draining soil. If the soil remains soggy for too long you may wish to re-pot your Pothos using a soil mix that contains grit or perlite to help improve drainage. Similarly, consider replacing the pot or container with one that has adequately sized drainage holes.

Too Much Direct Sunlight

Your Pothos will suffer if it is exposed to direct sunlight. Placing a Pothos in a window that gets direct sunlight can be detrimental. The leaves of the plant will turn yellow and possibly burn as a result. This could eventually kill your plant if you don’t move it.

Pothos prefer medium light, and they are unable to withstand direct sunshine. Find a position that is bright, but away from direct sunlight.

It’s also worth noting that, variegated Pothos benefit from longer periods of sunlight when compared to non-variegated varieties. This is because they don’t have as much chlorophyll. Where variegated plants’ leaves are less “green”, they require more sunlight to compensate.

If they do not get enough sun, variegated Pothos can lose their variegation as they seek out ways to get enough chlorophyll. If this occurs, they will not revert back.

Low Humidity

Pothos develop bigger and faster in a low to moderate humidity range of between 50-70%. Even though Pothos are tropical plants, they can withstand extremely low humidity levels.

Check out The Best Plant Humidifiers and How To Use Them.

If you live in a low-humidity region, it is worth positioning your Pothos plants in a bathroom or kitchen where they will benefit from the extra humidity. Alternatively, consider investing in a humidifier.

If you need to increase humidity further, water-filled pebble trays have worked well for me. Simply put pebbles in a shallow bowl with water and place your pot on top.

Should I Mist My Pothos?

I have found that it’s fine to mist your Pothos every now and then if you live in a climate where humidity drops below 50%. They appreciate the humidity if you live in a drier climate. That said, I wouldn’t recommend misting if you live in a hot or humid climate.

If you do choose to mist your Pothos, I would recommend doing it only once a week. Too much humidity can foster pests and mold in the soil and Pothos do not like having their leaves constantly wet.

If you live in a less humid climate and have noticed curled or fallen leaves, yellow foliage, and pothos leaves with brown edges and tips, this could be a sign that the plant is not absorbing enough water.

Over-Fertilizing

Everyone fertilizes their plants with the best of intentions, yet good intentions are not always met with good results. One of the more common mistakes with feeding houseplants is failing to read the packaging, which can result in too much fertilizer harming your plants.

If you fertilize your plant too much, you will see browning around the edges of the leaves and salt residue on the surface of the soil.

How Often To Fertilize Pothos

It is not necessary to use a specific Pothos fertilizer; any all-purpose houseplant fertilizer will suffice.

Water-soluble fertilizer is easy to use and difficult to make a mistake; however, the amount advised on the label can be too strong for plants and can result in burned leaves.

I recommend using a 6-6-6 fertilizer to ensure a low dose of macronutrients for your Pothos.

If you suspect over-fertilizing, you should stop or reduce quantities. Any fertilizer build-up that remains on the surface of soil should be removed by hand or with a small trowel.

Additionally, always ensure that you water 3-4 times between fertilizing to help flush out excess fertilizer compounds.

To promote the most growth, only apply fertilizer in the spring and summer. Pothos’ peak growth periods are during these seasons and they do not need fertilizing during the winter months when they are dormant.

Soil Conditions

Pothos grow in a variety of conditions, but they can be choosy about the soil they are planted in so knowing what they prefer will help you establish a healthy and happy Pothos.

Slightly acidic soil with a pH range of 6.1 to 6.8 is best and the majority of potting mixes will fall within this range.

They also prefer well-draining soil. If you notice that your soil is staying soggy for prolonged periods, I recommend adding perlite or grit to the soil to encourage water to drain.

If you suspect that poor soil conditions are the cause of your stressed-looking Pothos and you are sure your soil is well-draining, then you could purchase a pH soil test kit. This will help to identify any nutrient deficiencies that may be to blame.

Yellowing leaves could indicate an excess of alkalinity in the soil. If this is the case, sulfur or peat moss can be added to the blend.

If the soil is too acidic, try adding a form of lime, like agricultural limestone to bring up the pH levels.

Yellow Leaves After Propagating Pothos

Chemicals could be the cause of yellowing leaves if using a propagation station to root Pothos. For example, most tap water contains too much chlorine. Likewise, the calcium in tap water can also upset more sensitive plants, particularly if you are attempting to propagate in water.

This is a simple fix. You do not even need to go out and purchase bottled water. I either boil a kettle of water for 10 minutes and then let it cool or place a jug of water outside in the sun for the day during the warmer months. Both of these procedures will remove these commonly occurring chemicals from the water, making it safe for your plants to drink.

Yellow Leaves After Re-Potting Pothos

Any disruption of the roots when repotting a plant might cause stress to the plant. This can result in some yellowing of the leaves. It’s nothing to be concerned about and you need only worry more leaves become yellow and the problem persists.

Overpotting

Overpotting is when you choose a pot that is too big for your plant. Select a pot that is no more than 2 to 3 inches larger than the previous one.

When Pothos are planted in pots that are too big, the roots will end up lying in damp soil for too long.

Pest Infestation

Newly repotted plants are more susceptible to mites and an infestation can be caused by a change in the soil. Mites can also be drawn to chlorinated water so you’re less likely to have this issue if you use bottled water or the technique I highlighted above.

To get rid of them, lightly spray the leaves with warm water and a pinch of salt. One thorough spray should do the trick.

How And When To Prune Pothos

Pothos can grow quickly or slowly, depending on the variation. You may need to prune more frequently if you have a quicker growing Pothos, such as the Snow Queen, to maintain its shape.

Use disinfected scissors to avoid the potential for infection. It’s best to trim the vine ¼ inch above each leaf and always underneath a node. This is not only beneficial to your plant’s appearance but also useful when you are taking a cutting for propagation because nodes are where fresh growth will develop.

Pruning should be done during the growing season, which runs from spring to early fall, to ensure that the Pothos is healthy enough to recover quickly.

Removing Yellow Leaves from Pothos

I normally wait until the pothos leaf has completely yellowed to allow the plant to recover the necessary nutrients from the leaves. If you really do not like how they look, however, cutting them off earlier will not hurt.

Before and after each cut, disinfect your scissors. If more than a third of your plant’s leaves are yellow, trim them to prevent your plant from going into shock from the loss of foliage.

Final Thoughts On Pothos Leaves Curling

Curling leaves indicate that your Pothos is suffering as a result of one or more poor growing conditions. Over and under-watering, too much or too little sunlight, pests, overfertilizing, and temperature changes are the most prevalent causes of the Pothos leaf curling.

Pothos, fortunately, recover quickly if the problem is addressed quickly. Just be patient as you try to diagnose and heal your plants. It takes practice!