Causes Of Pothos Yellow Leaves And How To Fix

Pothos are some of my favorite plants. I love them for their elegant beauty and I love them because they are hard to kill and grow so fast.

This fall my Satin Pothos started showing some yellow leaves. I had never seen this before, and it got me worried. I’ve since worked out there are many causes of yellowing leaves on Pothos. 

Here’s what I know and how to fix them.

Why Does My Pothos Have Yellow Leaves? 

Leaves turn yellow for a myriad of reasons. Just because Pothos are low maintenance and hardy doesn’t mean they are immune to problems such as overwatering, underwatering, root rot, and pests and diseases.

The first sign that something is wrong With a Pothos is usually when the leaves start to turn yellow. Here’s a closer look at the signs and what they mean. 

Yellow Leaves and Drooping 

If the leaves of your Pothos are drooping and turning yellow, it’s most likely your plant has problems with your watering schedule.

If you leave your plant without water for a prolonged period, the leaves may crisp or fall off. Pothos are really good at communicating their needs. You just have to know what to look for! Drooping and yellowing is usually a sign of moisture stress.

So monitor your soil’s moisture by pushing your finger into the top inch of soil and feeling for moisture. If it is damp or wet. let it get nearly dry before watering again and repeat this check prior to watering. Over time new green growth will appear and the plant will flourish again.

Root Bound 

Droopy yellow leaves can also be a sign that your Pothos is root-bound. This just means that your plant has outgrown its pot and its growth is being stunted. In this case, your plant just needs to be repotted. 

When you remove your plant from its pot or container, if the roots are dense and wrapped in the shape of the pot, it is time to report! 

Yellow Leaves and Brown Spots 

When Pothos leaves are yellow and starting to show brown spots, this is a good indication of overwatering. 

This usually occurs when excess water sits in the soil, and the roots can’t get the oxygen they need to stay healthy. So, when you overwater your plant, you are essentially suffocating it. 

Root Rot 

If you overwater your plant repeatedly or allow excess water to remain in the drip tray or at the bottom of the decorative pot, chances are your Pothos will begin to show signs of root rot. 

This is where roots are unable to absorb water and nutrients because they are already saturated with water. If you suspect root rot due to yellow leaves and brown spots, remove the plant from the pot to inspect the roots. 

If the roots are white and firm, they are healthy. If they are brown or flimsy, you will need to report your Pothos in healthy soil and remove all traces of the damaged, saturated roots. 

Another tell-tale sign of root rot is the smell of decay. If you can smell your plant dying, it’s too far gone. So keep a vigilant eye out for signs before it gets to that point. 

Yellow Leaves In The Fall Or Winter 

While the fall brings a much-needed reprieve from the hotter weather, drafts of cooler weather often bring stress to your plants. My Pothos will usually have a yellow leaf or two when the weather changes but it’s nothing to be worried about. 

When the weather starts to get cooler, I move my plants away from windowsills and vents in my house. I’ve also found that the interior walls of my house are warmer than the exterior so consider moving to a different spot if your plant is extra sensitive to the temperature change. 

Causes Of Pothos Yellow Leaves And How To Fix 

Spotting the yellow leaves is the quickest way to help heal your plant. To reverse the damage, the remedy might be as simple as moving your plant in or out of sunlight or adjusting your watering habits. 

Now that we know why the leaves are turning yellow, let’s figure out how to fix it. 

Overwater Or Underwatering 

Knowing when and how much to water your Pothos is one of the trickiest parts of owning and caring for them. As a plant owner, you want to find a balance between over and underwatering. 

Sometimes, when finding this balance, you mess up. Luckily, over and underwatering can be reversed. 

  • Underwatering: simply give your Pothos a good, deep watering. 
  • Overwatering: Use clean scissors to remove the yellowing leaves. Then, move your plant to a sunnier spot to help the moisture soak up. 

Pothos like to be watered regularly. They like their soil to completely dry out before the next water. This also helps prevent root rot. 

Root Size Matters  

Root size is another thing to consider when deciding how much to water your Pothos. This plant has a relatively small root system in comparison to other plants. 

Even if your plant has a lot of foliage, this doesn’t mean it has a large root system. Be cautious of this when you water. It might take longer than you think for the roots to soak up the water. 

How Often And When To Water A Pothos Plant 

While yellow leaves can be a sign of over and under-watering, they can also be a sign of inconsistent watering. Here are a few ways to help you know when to water your plants: 

  • Press your finger ½ inches into the soil to check for moisture. 
  • Aerate the soil. Use a chopstick to poke holes, gently, in the soil. Be careful not to damage the roots. 
  • Ensure your pot has good sized drainage holes. Water your plant until water drips out of the bottom and allow excess water to drain away. 

Too Much Direct Sunlight 

Pothos do not do well in direct sunlight because, like humans, the sun will burn them – especially their delicate foliage. 

They prefer bright, indirect light but, since they are so adaptable, low, medium-light will suffice. I have mine in a bright room with natural light. 

If you’re keeping it inside, like me, it does best at 70 to 90 degrees so putting it in a room with bright light ensures that it will grow at a healthy temperature. 

Bear in mind that keeping your Pothos in a warmer room helps the soil absorb water quicker so it may require watering more frequently. 

If you are going to place your Pothos outside, it’s best to put it under partial shade. As long as the temperature doesn’t drop below 60 degrees your plant should be okay – any colder and your plant will become stressed, causing leaf drop. 

Low Humidity 

Pothos can tolerate low humidity and can do well even in mountain towns where, because of the altitude, humidity is non-existent. 

That said, higher humidity levels definitely do help them grow bigger and faster. 

If you do live in a climate with low humidity find a spot in your house where humidity levels can be increased. A bathroom where it can get humidity from the shower, or a larger room that could accommodate a humidifier for example. 

Do Pothos Like To Be Misted? 

In drier climates, I advise misting Pothos once or twice a week to raise their humidity levels. 

Be cautious of over-humidifying your plants if you live in a wetter climate, however. If you mist your plants too much, the wet soil can attract gnats and mold. 

Over-Fertilizing 

With fertilizer, less is more because Pothos are prone to over-fertilizing. You’ll know if you have over-fertilized your Pothos because the leaves will look burned around the edges. 

Most fertilizers contain salt compounds that pull the moisture from the roots and if there is too much in the soil, your plant will get dehydrated. 

You can also tell by looking at the soil if there’s too much fertilizer. The soil might look white and crusty due to the build-up of fertilizer. 

Leaching

If you’ve over-fertilized, there is a technique called “leaching” that I use to flush out the extra fertilizer from the soil. First, remove the white, chalky build-up on the soil. 

Slowly, pour twice as much warm water as the container would hold over the soil but make sure it doesn’t overflow the rim of the pot. The water will absorb the extra salt and carry it out. Don’t worry! This won’t drown your plant. 

Bear in mind that this technique does not work unless your pot has proper drainage. 

Allow your plant to fully dry before you water it again. 

How Often To Fertilize Your Pothos 

Pothos are forgiving plants and don’t require too much fertilizer to thrive. But, if their living conditions and nutrients are not ideal, fertilizer is a great way to give them a boost. 

I fertilize my pothos plants with a water-soluble fertilizer every two or three months. I’ve seen the best results when I fertilize consistently. Be sure to read the packaging for dosage if you do decide to fertilize.

Soil Conditions 

Pothos prefer well-draining and slightly acidic soil that ranges from around 6.1 to 6.8 on the pH scale. Most indoor potting mixes fall within that range. 

I use Miracle-Gro Indoor Potting Mix, and my plants seem to love it. It is a blend that is suitable for a wide range of houseplants and already contains coir and perlite to assist with drainage whilst still allowing the soil to retain some moisture. 

Yellow Leaves After Propagating A Pothos 

Pothos are some of the easiest plants to propagate but sometimes the leaves turn yellow due to too much chlorine in the water. 

If I’m growing cuttings in a jar or propagation station I use distilled water and change it out once a week to prevent algae in the water. 

Yellow Leaves After Re-Potting A Pothos 

Sometimes when I’ve repotted a Pothos, some of its leaves turn yellow and it’s not due to under or over-watering. I find that it is usually due to the stress of a change in the environment. 

It’s quite normal for stress to occur after repotting a Pothos so when it happens I prune the yellow leaves and continue my plant’s care as normal until it bounces back.

How And When To Prune A Pothos 

When your Pothos is flourishing, it can get huge! Sometimes it just needs some pruning so that it doesn’t fall within reach of pets or children. Other times it may need a prune if you see evidence of pests and want to get rid of chomped leaves. 

The best time to prune your plant is during its growing season, which is spring into early fall so that it’s healthy enough to recover quickly.  

If you are pruning for appearance, it is best if you cut the vine ¼ inch above each leaf. The point where the leaf meets the vine is called the node. Your plant will send out a new vine in that area. 

Leafless vines tend to remain that way so when you’re pruning remove these vines. This will allow your Pothos to focus energy on new and existing foliage.

Removing Yellow Leaves From Pothos 

I usually wait until the leaf has fully yellowed so that the plant has a chance to recover the essential nutrients from the leaves. However, if you really don’t like the look of them, it won’t be detrimental to cut them off. 

Pruning Pothos Yellow Leaves 

Disinfect your scissors before and after each cut. If over a third of your plant’s leaves are yellow, trim the leaves over time so that your plant doesn’t go into shock from the loss of leaves. 

Final Thoughts On Pothos Yellow Leaves 

Most of the issues that cause yellow leaves on Pothos are easily remedied. The key to correcting a yellowing plant is to catch it early! 

My Pothos plants are in spaces that I see every day so if yellowing occurs, I can start investigating fast. It’s important to pay attention to your plants so that they can tell you what they need by displaying those all-important symptoms when things go wrong. And after all, they do deserve it! 

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