As soon as you see your pothos leaves turning yellow, you’ll start asking yourself a few questions:
“What is happening with my pothos?“
“Am I doing something wrong?”
“Will the plant die?”
“How can I fix this?”
Well, as long as there’s no VISIBLE sign that it’s dying, you can find out what is happening, whether it’s your fault, and save the pothos before it’s too late.
Without boring you out, here are a few reasons to consider:
1. Wrong Amounts of Light Can Damage the Pothos
The MOST COMMON reason a pothos yellows away is the sun.
This is not a full-sun plant. But it’s not a FULL SHADE plant either.
If you don’t ensure at least 4 hours of sunlight every day, the pothos will yellow slowly but surely.
AT THE SAME TIME, don’t leave it for longer than 8 hours under the sun either.
It is not a plant that can withstand too much sunlight given the soft leaves.
How do you know whether it’s too much or too little light?
Are the leaves crispy with a slightly brownish tone? Then it’s too much sunlight.
Are the leaves plump and pale? Then it’s too little sunlight.
How to Fix This
There’s nothing complicated about repairing your pothos. Follow these tips:
- Don’t let the pothos stay in a dark corner at home.
- Give it no less than 4 hours of sunlight a day. Preferably, give it about 6 to 8 hours.
- Don’t go over that range. You will cause it to burn and turn yellow again.
- Reduce the amount of sunlight in hot and dry climates.
- Increase the amount of sunlight in overcast climates.
You should see results within a few weeks of making these changes.
2. Inadequate Water Will Harm the Pothos Too
As with light, TOO MUCH and TOO LITTLE water may also cause damage.
But overwatering is actually the most common among these two. This is often related to the plant not receiving too much light (so the water doesn’t dry up and pools in the soil). The roots eventually drown in the excess water, causing the top leaves to turn yellow rapidly.
Don’t rush, though. Too little water will also cause the leaves to turn yellow. This time, it happens because the plant starts to dehydrate. So its leaves begin to lose color soon.
To identify whether it’s OVERWATERING, check whether the soil is overly wet or swampy. Also, the leaves become plump and soft, meaning the plant is drowning.
For DRYING pothos, look for wilting, curling, and crisping leaves. In contrast, the soil will look dry and tough. The plant is thirsting.
Here’s how to fix these:
Fixing the Overwatering Problem
The solution is a combination of making sure it won’t overwater again and getting rid of the cause:
- Open a hole in the pot where it’s growing. Or if it is growing in a garden bed, take it out and put it in a well-drained pot instead.
- ONLY water when the soil looks and feels dry. This should prevent overwatering.
- Keep it under the sun as this helps the plant recover and dry the excess water on the soil.
Pothos plants recover surprisingly fast to overwatering issues, taking a couple of weeks to go back to normal (a few days to show signs of improvement).
Solve the Drying Pothos
In case the pothos is drying up, the solution is to change watering habits completely:
- Start by watering the pothos right away. The leaves often move as soon as you water the plant after a long time of not doing so.
- Keep watering the plant until the soil feels moist. You should see water trickle down the pot or container. The pot should feel heavier now.
- Check back the next day. If you see the soil dry, then water again, following the same process.
Follow this plant until the plant recovers. Then, you’ll see leaves growing back and the brown ones falling.
NOTE: Don’t overwater trying to fix it. Keep the soil moist but not muddy.
3. Extreme Temperatures Are Not Ideal for the Pothos
Every plant out there needs to grow in a specific temperature range to survive. Otherwise, it will struggle.
The same happens with pothos.
This plant requires a temperature range of 70 to 90 degrees Fahrenheit. Anything higher or lower than that will cause trouble (like yellowing leaves).
But there’s a catch: if the temperature lowers to 50 degrees, the plant may thrive if the environment is dry.
But if the environment is humid, here’s where it starts to struggle. The leaves turn yellow because the roots aren’t drying up properly. As a consequence, the leaves turn juicy and yellowish.
ALSO: If the temperatures are too high, the plant also yellows away, especially if there’s a lot of sunlight involve. In this case, the leaves become drier.
What to Do if Temperatures Aren’t Ideal?
The solution is as simple as you think:
- If the environment is too cold (below 70 or 50 degrees), then maintain the plant in the warmer areas of your home. A heater can be a great way to increase the temperature around it.
- For hot areas, do the opposite: keep the plant in the darker and colder areas of your home for longer. This is particularly true in the summer and other sunny seasons.
In both cases, the plant typically recovers within a few days. This is often not critical for the plant.
4. Improper Food Will Make the Pothos Struggle
Don’t you feel weak when you spend a day or two without eating well?
Now imagine not eating well for weeks or months at a time.
How do you think your body will react?
Well, whatever you have in your mind, you can compare it to a plant turning yellow.
When pothos doesn’t receive all the proper nutrients, it leaves turn yellow in one way or another.
For example, a lack of magnesium will turn the edges of the leaves yellow. Meanwhile, a lack of zinc, iron, or manganese could turn the leaf flesh yellow but the veins and stem green.
ON THE OTHER HAND, now imagine you eat like a pig for a month straight. How will your body react?
Well, overfeeding pothos will also turn yellow. This is from mineral overload and will BURN the leaves slowly. For example, excess manganese will produce tiny yellow spots all across.
Start Feeding the Pothos Properly
To fix both of these issues, you’ll have to do something simple: feed the pothos correctly.
Here are few tips to make that possible:
- For nutrient deficiency, nothing will help like some fertilization. Buying an all-around fertilizer with complete nutrient delivery would help. For the pothos, focus on fertilizers with high iron content.
- You should keep fertilizing the plant at least twice every year.
- For overfed plants, try watering only with distilled water (no minerals).
- To lower the amount of minerals in the soil, you may want to change it. A well-draining potting mix will suffice.
- Don’t fertilize your plant more than twice a year if you think there’s a mineral imbalance causing overfeeding.
As you can see, it’s mostly about fixing the soil by either fertilizing or changing it completely.
5. The Pothos is Pest Infested
Just like a person gets feverish and weak after a skin infection, pothos plants get stressed to the point of yellowing when bugs eat them up.
This also happens because bugs suck away the humidity from the leaves. And in some cases, they make it hard for the plant to absorb nutrients.
Worst of all, many insects could be the fault. These include:
All these are sap-sucking animals ready to drain your plant off nutrients. Luckily, there’s a simple way to get rid of them.
How to Get Rid of Pests on your Pothos (And Prevent Them)
Before you go and eliminate the pests, you’ll have to check what’s the reason first. Then, getting rid of the bugs will be a piece of cake.
- Identify whether your plant is getting too much water (humid leaves) or there’s little ventilation in the place (bugs attack with lack of wind).
- Once you’ve identified the problem, fix it accordingly. For humidity, keep the leaves as fresh as possible. And for ventilation, try to keep the plant close to a window.
- Now you can spray some insecticidal soap over the plant leaves. This should remove most of the insects (regardless of the species).
- Finish by wiping the leaves with a soft, dry towel after the bugs have died or gone away. This should remove any eggs/larvae remaining.
You’ll see the plant recovering in no time. Just remember to change the conditions that could be attracting the pests to keep them from reappearing.
6. Diseases Are Deteriorating the Pothos
Pothos plants rarely get sick. But they do. And when they do, the deterioration happens rapidly.
Luckily, there aren’t many diseases that could attack your pothos. Among the few that do, you’ll find:
- Phytophthora (root rot)
- Ethylene damage
- Bacterial wilt
For the first two, the reason is probably an improper environment (overwatering or lack of ventilation). But for bacterial wilt, it’s just bad luck (it travels through water and air, so it’s tricky to know the reason).
Whatever is causing the trouble, there are ways to repair the pothos before it’s too late.
Repair your Ill Pothos With These Tips
The repair process is both about getting rid of infected leaves and removing the potential damaging agents. Here’s how to proceed:
- Start by cutting all the affected leaves—yellow ones and brown ones, especially those that don’t stand upright anymore.
- To repair ethylene damage, make sure there’s no decomposing matter around the plant. Fix this by cleaning up and taking the plant to a ventilated area.
- Keep the pothos’ soil dry for a few days. Water only once the soil looks extra-dry, and you may kill the fungi.
- Use neem oil if you spot any leaf spot or bacterial wilt on the leaves. It will stop the infection right away after you spray the oil on the leaves.
- Lastly, take the plant to a lonely place (away from pets and other plants). It should receive at least 5 hours of daylight to strengthen.
Overall, keep the plant ventilated, well-drained, and away from decomposing matter or ill plants. This should prevent this from happening again.
7. The Pothos Is Struggling with Repotting
Believe it or not, the pothos plant doesn’t like repotting.
In fact, FEW PLANTS like it.
Pothos won’t react 100% nicely when you repot it. And in some cases, it will struggle.
Here’s when the leaves start to turn yellow, and you begin to worry.
Now, why does this happen?
There are two main reasons:
- Plants try to acclimatize to the new soil, so they stop taking nutrients in. They instead focus on getting accustomed, slowing their metabolism and causing the leaves to yellow out.
- Because the plant enters into a dormant-like state, it may start to shed some leaves. They may turn yellow in the process.
Overall, see the pothos as a plant that hates repotting. If you took it out of its original pot to a new one, that’s probably the reason.
Here’s How to Avoid Damaging the Pothos When Repotting
Once you repot, there’s no way to go back. It will either turn yellow or struggle for a few days/weeks until it starts to like the new soil.
But you can prevent the plant from turning yellow with proper repotting. Here’s what to consider:
- Pothos starts growing its leaves and roots FASTER in spring. So this could be the perfect season to repot, as it’s likely to acclimatize to the new soil quicker.
- Only repot the plant when it’s healthy or has root rot. Don’t repot the plant when it’s struggling from dry soil or overwatering.
- Wet the new soil and keep it decently moist. The distributed humidity will make it comfier to the pothos. Thus, it will get accustomed faster.
- Don’t plant the pothos alongside other plants. Keep it alone. Otherwise, it will realize it and get uncomfortable (probably never acclimatizing to the new place).
Be aware that even if the pothos starts turning yellow after following these tips, the yellowing won’t last long. This is because while it turns yellow, it’s rare when it dies from repotting. But be careful nonetheless.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
Is it normal for the pothos to turn yellow?
Believe it or not, pothos plants turn yellow from time to time, even when there’s no damage.
This happens when new leaves start growing, and the old ones die. But in this case, you’ll see ONLY one or two leaves drying up (not all of them).
To know whether it’s normal yellowing, check that the leaves turning are bigger, look older, and are in the bottom portion of the plant. These leaves fall off alone eventually.
Are your pothos leaves turning brown?
When this happens is a CLEAR consequence of a dring plant. Brown leaves mean they’re already rotting away. If only a few leaves are brown, there’s still a chance to save the pothos. But if most leaves are brown, you may have to say goodbye.
What to do if my pothos leaves are curling?
This is a clear sign of too much sunlight and heat. Keep the plant in a darker and colder area when that happens. The curls may go away within a week or two.
Don’t Let Your Pothos Die!
Now you’re aware of how to fix pothos leaves turning yellow.
It’s time to act.
Be quick to solve any issue, and your plant will start growing anew in no time.
So, ready to save that pothos from eventual doom? FIX IT NOW!