13 Common Pothos Problems You Should Know

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If you are an indoor gardener, you might have one or several pots of pothos together with other indoor plants. They add color, texture, and excitement to the home. Besides, they are effortless to care for, so indoor gardeners opt for them.

Another incredible benefit is that they can filter toxins from the air. However, several problems still occur to your pothos in the growing process. You might need to detect it carefully, determine the causes, and apply the appropriate treatment to recover its good condition.

There are many possible indicators of bad pothos growth. The leaves can change colors, be malformed or respond irregularly. Here we will discuss the 13 prominent issues on your beloved pothos plant.

Leaves turn yellow

Leaves turning yellow might be the first noticeable sign telling that your pothos is having problems. The solid, usually dark green foliage starts to develop patches of yellow, which don’t look healthy. It usually takes place on some parts of the leaves first and spreads through the whole plant as time passes.

There are some possible causes of care style or the environment that you can fix. For example, if you overwater it, the root cells will be damaged and not let the plant receive the energy it needs, so it turns yellow.

If it is placed in direct sunlight for too long, the leaves will become yellow all over and collapse due to burning. Check out our post on pothos leaves turning yellow to know any other reasons and how to fix it.

Yellow leaves is one of common pothos problems

Leaves turn brown

Another severe case is the pothos leaves turning brown. This is the more profound stage of turning yellow. It is due to a wide range of environmental factors that affect the plant. Overwatering or direct light exposure should be two of the leading causes. Besides, we should check for the humidity, temperature, and size of the pot that bears the plant.

Pothos is a tropical breed of plant that adapts to quite humid atmospheres, so being too dry will stress it. Also, the ideal temperature range for any pothos is from 65 degrees Fahrenheit to 85 degrees Fahrenheit, so make sure your room matches the requirement.

You might also notice that pothos doesn’t need much fertilizer because it’s low-maintenance. Excess calcium will cause an imbalance in the plants and impair the leaves.

You should also check if your plant has been rootbound, meaning that the plant has grown too big for the pot. Pothos has a quick growth speed, so after two years or so, the roots can easily spill the pot, making it hard to absorb the nutrients and water when this is the case, detect and trim off the affected roots and foliages, and finally move it to another larger pot with new soil.

Brown leaves

Brown spots, tips

If the leaves change color but appear as spots and tips rather than large patches, your pothos likely has fungal leaf spots or some common diseases like Southern Blight or Bacterial Wilt. It is contagious, so when you recognize it, cut off the affected leaves and isolate the plant from other healthy indoor plants of yours. Then you treat it by adding dome fungicide or chemicals to “clean” your pothos.

Also, over-fertilizing is likely to cause the tips on the plant due to accumulating salts. Try to fertilize it not so regularly, ideally once a month and after each time, give it more water and time to flush out all the salts and excess elements.

Check for the condition of light; if there is a side of pothos that gets more brown tips than the other sides. Presumably, it is because of abundant sunlight, which pothos doesn’t require much.

Pothos leaves have brown spots or tips

Shoot blackening

If the color of your pothos quickly turns into the shade of black and completely dies out, it would be the last plea of your pothos. When the leaves turn black, you can hardly save or recover them to their origin. Root rot is the top killer of plants, and this calamity is usually due to overwatering for a long time.

Once the root is rotted, the plant can’t take in any water or nutrients to maintain its life, and as a result, it collapses. Sunburn could also create dark spots, so ensure you don’t have it exposed to intense sunlight for a long time.

You can troubleshoot blackening leaves by repotting: after trimming all the ruined leaves, change the plant’s container by stripping all the rotten roots, change the damping soil to the whole new one, and plan on careful care for recovering pothos.

Plant cover with black edges

Leaves falling

Pothos leaves don’t regularly fall off unless there is some stress from the environment. Underwatering causes leaves to fall, which is necessary to decrease the demand for water for the whole plant.

It’s hard to recognize if it lacks water since pothos takes weeks to need watering again. The best way is to check whether the soil’s top inch has dried out. The shock from cold temperatures and overly dry air can cause your pothos to lose leaves because pothos is a tropical plant that prefers warm and somewhat moist environments to thrive.

There is not much you can do to recover the leaves on the falling ones, but trimming those new exposed spots will be more likely to grow fresh leaves if you adjust the caring and give it what it needs.

Falling leaves

Water dripping

Many people deem water dripping from pothos leaves as something worth worrying about, but it’s a normal healing response of the pothos. Briefly imagine, it is like the transpiration process of a plant.

When your plant is taking in more water than it needs, it pushes the excess water through the surface of the leaves. The water taken in can be from overwatering, which is lucky enough because your plant did not get root rot but released excess water instead, or it can be from the too-high humidity of the air around.

So we don’t need to worry about the water drops on the leaves but the effect that comes after. Overwatering or too much moisture will damage your pothos soon enough if you don’t fix it.

Water dripping

Curling leaves

Being easier to fix than other problems once showing, wilting or curling leaves is usually from inappropriate water or light supplement.

If you water your pothos too irregularly or keep it in dark places in your house for too long, the plant wilts as it has remained little energy to erect straightly, and the leaves curl or deform as a sign of energy withdrawal. It’s not good when pothos receives too much water or light, especially direct daylight.

Because pothos is very low-maintenance, it can bear a little neglect rather than a little extreme. Once standing in direct sunlight, it will get stressed out and damaged and shrink.

Pothos plant have curling leaves

Drooping plants

Drooping is also a common problem on pothos. The plant is sagging and leaning, not erect and vivid as it used to be. Again, the top reason for this case has been neglected for too long. Too little water intake and a dull light source make the whole plant droop.

To cure this, give it more of what it needs, but on a gradual adjustment, because if you “pour” a bucket of water or place it in a whole day of sun. It will die out even faster. Or you can check for root bound; if the roots have grown too large for the pot, it can’t take in the nutrients well and, as a result, withdraw by changing the shape.

Drooping plant

Leaves turning white or bleaching

Pothos has a distinct lush color. While the leaves are turning white in uniform, the difference is defined by the variegation patterns. But sometimes, the color or variegation on some leaves appears whiter and paler.

Pothos like this seems to be discolored or bleached. It is likely because it’s not getting enough light or is placed in a very low-light condition. Some pothos with more white variegation will have less chlorophyll, which means they will absorb less light than normal ones and thus need to be in more light than normal green pothos. Or else they will bleach their color.

Leaves turning white

Stunted, distorted plant growth

If you notice that your pothos is not growing normally, it stops growing or grows unequally on all parts. At first, you should doubt it as some signs of pest infestation; your plant might not get enough nutrients for growing because the pests that invaded the plant have sucked all the sap out.

And it is easy enough to discover; observe each leaf to see if there are any peculiar dots. They can be scales, aphids, or red spider mites. Use regular insecticidal soap or neem oil to eliminate them quickly. You will see your pothos retrieving its pure large leaves and trailing long vines.

Another possible cause is that it is starving. Pothos usually don’t require many nutrients to thrive, but super arid soil is not ideal for growing its best. So if your pothos plant is not growing appropriately, try to fertilize more regularly with a balanced compost of N-P-K in equal ratios, betting you will see a better result.

Disability to growth

Small leaves

The size of the leaves depends on the variety of pothos. Indoor pothos leaves usually grow to a length of 4-8 inches. When reaching maturity, you should notice something is wrong if it is smaller than this range.

Usually, when it is small due to lousy growth, it will also have other irregular signs, such as yellowing or curling. Growing smaller is the pothos response to stress. It could be treated with poor conditions; check if you have watered it enough or given it enough indirect light it needs in a day.

On the other hand, being overwhelmed by those two necessary life sources would also harm pothos. This action numbs the plant and hinders it from absorbing the nutrients, and as a result, it does not grow larger. Another possible cause is that pests and insects are attacking the leaves; those creatures suck out the sap and nutrients that ceases the leaves’ growth.

Whatever the reason, your pothos might be getting some trouble with daily care that you should adjust before it gets damaged more severely, like curling or turning brown.

Small size of leaves

White powdery spots

Unlike any other problems of pothos, which result from many common causes like under overwatering or too much too low light, this problem of pothos is unique because a particular culprit caused it, pests and insects, specifically powdery mildew, mealybugs, and spider mites.

These pests or insects have usually covered themselves in armors that appear as white powders. The white powders not only affect the evergreen look of pothos but also threaten the plant’s health. These annoying white pests could also spread to other parts and adjacent plants.

So when you notice these, you should apply treatment immediately. You can either prune the affected leaves or use a cotton swab soaked in cotton to wipe the insects down the leaves. If everything doesn’t work, you can resort to organic fungicides for safe pest removal.

White powdery pothos spots

Lack of variegation

You decided to have a pothos in your house because of its beautiful variegation, but for some reason, your pothos lost this feature as time went on and left a tedious whole green foliage.

The cause usually lies in the lack of light. Variegation is the fact that the plants are devoid of some chlorophyll pigment, which forms the green shade of the leaves, the zones with white streaks or splashes are the most lacking or non-chlorophyll areas.

The chlorophyll pigment is to help the plant photosynthesize more straightforwardly. And if there is little light available, the leaves will summon more chlorophyll to compensate for the too-low light supplement and hence survive.

This feature is a mutation on pothos but is considered attractive, so you should retrieve it. Bring it to more light exposure places and trim the so-green leaves to allow the new variegated leaves to grow.

The pothos with much-variegated features also grow more slowly than normal ones, so they might require you a bit more care to thrive with dynamic streaks and patches.

Lack of variegation

Frequently Asked Questions:

In order to cultivate a Pothos that is in better health, many people ask the following questions:

How can I help a struggling pothos?

Deterioration is not the sign of an end in your pothos. Just be patient and apply the appropriate treatment to your pothos. All you can do is adjust the watering schedule and provide enough indirect sunlight, add some fertilizers to it and your pothos will thrive again soon.

Should I remove leaves with leaf curl?

When the pothos grows so invasively and unruly, you should strim the plant to maintain a healthy, bushy look and allow new growth to form. Make sure you use a clean pair of scissors to practice and cut off the parts where petioles connect to the stems.

Will curled leaves uncurl?

Leaves will uncurl if you apply appropriate treatments. For example, try to water it more regularly if it is underwatered. If it was heated by direct sunlight, move it to a more shady spot.

Can new leaves grow from the old leaves’ cut?

Once the leaves have been trimmed away, there may be new growth in the bottom, but new ones will not grow back in the same areas. But you can use the propagation method to grow new vines.

Which action is accounted for all pothos problems?

Pothos can be neglected a little, so irregular watering or being placed in too shady places sometimes won’t be a problem. But if you incidentally give it too much water for several days, it will die soon enough because of root rot and lack of oxygen.

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Kelly Lawrence

Kelly Lawrence

I’m Kelly Lawrence, two years after graduating with a Journalism major, I had the opportunity to apply my experiences to become the founder and executive content writer of this gardening blog.