Common Causes of Yellowing Leaves on a Pothos
- The most common causes of yellowing leaves on a pothos plant are overwatering, underwatering, lack of light, nutrient imbalances and pest infestations. Keep reading to learn how to tackle each issue!
Kiersten lives in New Orleans, LA and graduated with her masters degree in Ecology and Evolutionary Biology from Tulane University in 2019.
She has conducted or assisted on research studies covering trees such as the bald cypress, swamp maple, and water tupelo, as well as important marsh grasses including Juncus, Spartina, and Phragmites.
Kiersten is (nearly!) a Louisiana Master Naturalist and regularly volunteers with local community gardens and nonprofits to help restore critical ecosystems along the Gulf Coast.
Pothos plants are very popular and common houseplants because of their lush foliage, effortless growth, and low maintenance care.
One famous plant is the Neon Pothos plant. With this low maintenance plant, it would be easy to start a Neon Pothos care guide. However, in some cases, even an indoor plant like Pothos needs a little extra love and attention from its owner. Yellowing leaves is a common problem in the different types of Pothos. If you start to see yellow patches or brown spots on your Pothos plant’s leaves, take it as a sign that something could be wrong.
However, don’t stress. We have tons of tips available through our app to help you properly care for your Pothos plant. In the meantime, keep reading to discover a few key potential reasons behind your Pothos plant’s leaves turning yellow.
Photo by Alinyaa
One of the most common reasons for a yellow leaf is overwatering. If a plant gets too little light, it can affect the amount of water absorbed by the soil.
Additionally, when a Pothos leaf can’t absorb enough energy from the sun, they start to absorb more water to maintain the level of required nutrients.
When a plant becomes overwatered, the soil gets over-saturated and the roots suffocate, causing rot root. An overwatered Pothos can lead to yellowed, plump leaves. A pot with poor drainage can also cause overwatering and subsequent root rot.
The easiest solution for overwatering is to make sure you have a properly draining soil and pot. By doing this, you also avoid damaged roots for your Pothos plant. Use our plant care app and create a watering schedule to ensure you don’t overwater.
Also, always check the state of the soil before watering. For a temporary solution to overwatering, you can try placing the plant in brighter light to help speed up evaporation.
In some cases, dehydrated Pothos may start to show yellowed leaves. A dehydrated Pothos will show crisp leaves that droop a little on the side and curl inwards, while also feeling limp due to lack of moisture. A lack of soil moisture can also lead to bigger issues like damaged roots.
Low humidity can also play a role in the yellowing and browning of its leaves. It starts at the edges and eventually moves through the whole leaf.
To treat underwatering in an emergency situation, put the Pothos, root, soil and all, into a tub of water. It will readily absorb the extra water and give energy to the droopy leaves. For a long-term solution, try watering the bottom of the soil too, instead of just the dry top. When in doubt, consult our app for tips and advice on plant care.
Photo by Bigshe64
Even though Pothos are often categorized as low or moderate-light plants, they do still need some light, otherwise, its leaves will start to turn yellow. However, the same yellowing phenomena could also happen if your Pothos gets too much light. It’s a fine line to navigate!
Keep in mind that a lack of light doesn’t target any specific portion of the plant, the leaves anywhere on it can turn yellow. So, if you notice your Pothos leaves turning yellow along with a slight droop and plumpness to them, lack of light may well be the culprit.
To overcome this issue, simply find a better spot for your potted Pothos plant. Make sure it’s somewhere with access to ample bright, indirect sunlight. You should start to see a difference soon!
Photo by 84frogsinatrenchcoat
Most tap water is high in salts, chlorine, and fluoride. These can create a nutrient imbalance in your houseplant. These imbalances can present themselves in two ways––either you end up with too much nutrients, or not enough of them.
In either case, the end result is the same. A Pothos that doesn’t have access to ample amounts of phosphorus, nitrogen, potassium, and iron, will definitely end up having yellowed leaves.
To spot this problem, take a hard look at the pattern of yellow patches on the leaves. It can help you determine the deficient element in your Pothos.
For example, yellowed edges indicate a magnesium deficiency, but when the bottom leaves turn yellow and the top don’t, that indicates a nitrogen deficiency.
If all of this is happening because of the tap water you’re using, try adding a mineral-specific fertilizer to help balance out the nutrient deficit in your soil and water. You can also try using collected rainwater to water your Pothos plant.
Pest attacks or an insect infestation can weaken plants, hindering their ability to retain moisture and regulate the use of nutrients in the body. Spider-mites can severely damage a plant and drain the moisture content in its stems and leaves, resulting in yellowing leaflets. You can keep your plants safe from pests by ensuring proper drainage, sunlight, and moisture content.
While there are always a number of reasons your Pothos leaves might yellow, one final thing to consider is the passage of time. When leaves have lived their fair share of days and are near the end of their life cycle, they inevitably will turn yellow and then brown, eventually returning to the ground to become part of the fertilization process.
Your Pothos leaves turning yellow could simply be an indication that the leaves are aged and have reached the end of their life cycle.