Yellow leaves on pothos

Pothos Leaves Turning Yellow: What To Do For Yellow Leaves On Pothos

Pothos is the perfect plant for the brown-thumb gardener, or anyone who wants an easy care plant. It offers deep green, heart-shaped leaves on long, cascading stems. When you see those pothos leaves turning yellow, you’ll know something is wrong with your plant.

Pothos with Yellowing Leaves

Yellow leaves on pothos is never a good sign. But that doesn’t necessarily spell the end for your plant, or even a serious disease. One of the primary causes of yellow leaves on pothos is too much sunshine.

The pothos plant prefers moderate amounts of light and can even thrive in low light. On the other hand, it will not tolerate direct sunlight. Yellow pothos foliage can be an indication that your plant getting too much sun.

If you’ve had that pothos in a southern facing window, move it to another location, or farther away from the light. Alternatively, solve the yellow-leaves-on-pothos problem by hanging a sheer curtain between the plant and the window.

Excess or inadequate fertilizer can also make pothos leaves yellow. A monthly feed with a water-soluble indoor plant food is sufficient.

Other Causes of Pothos Leaves Turning Yellow

When pothos leaves yellow, it can signal serious problems like the fungal diseases, pythium root rot and bacterial leaf spot. Root rots are often caused by soil-inhabiting fungi and overly moist soil; poor drainage and plant crowding favor their development.

Pothos with yellowing leaves may indicate root rot. When the plant has pythium root rot, mature leaves yellow and fall, and the roots look black and mushy. With bacterial leaf spot, you’ll notice water spots with yellow halos on the underside of leaves.

If your pothos with yellowing leaves has root rot, provide it with the best possible cultural care. Be sure your plant is placed where it gets adequate sunlight, be sure that its soil drains well, and limit water to optimal amounts. Do not mist the plant since root rot fungi thrive in moist conditions.

Disinfect scissors with a mixture of 1 part bleach to 9 parts water. Snip off yellowing leaves, disinfecting the blades after each cut. If more than one-third of the pathos leaves yellow, trim over time rather than removing so much foliage at once. If the disease has spread to the roots, you may not be able to save the plant.

Pothos is a common houseplant and often thought of as the easiest one to grow. Its botanical name is Epipremnum aureum. It is also sometimes called taro vine or devil’s ivy. Pothos is a vine plant, but it doesn’t need a trellis. However, it can be draped around a room in a becoming fashion. It can grow up to thirty feet long, but most plants are between six and ten feet.

Table of Contents

How To Grow Pothos


While it is easy to grow, pothos does need a few things to thrive. This plant does well in moderately cool temperatures. It prefers about fifty-five degrees Fahrenheit but can handle warmer room temperatures. Pothos also needs full shade or partial shade though it does like diluted sunlight.

This plant isn’t picky about soil, it does need to have some fertilizer. When first planting it, use a potting soil that has some in it. The plant does not like to be overwatered. Let the soil dry out completely before watering it.

Keep in mind that all parts of this plant are poisonous. It is a mild to moderate poison as it contains calcium oxalate, which is sharp crystals. It can cut into a person or pet’s mouth at the first bite. If it is swallowed it can continue to cause small cuts on all of the ways through the digestive tract. It is best to keep it out of the reach of pets and children.

Also check this article: How To Get Rid Of Nutsedge Weeds

Causes Of Yellow Leaves On Pothos And How To Treat It

Like many perennial vines, pothos can have naturally occurring yellow leaves. As leaves get older, they turn color and fall off so new growth can flourish. These will be at the base of the stems rather than the tips. Nothing needs to be done for the plant for this type of yellow leaf.

However, if the leaves are occurring elsewhere on the plant, it’s time to look at other things. The number one cause of pothos leaves turning yellow is due to overwatering. As mentioned before, pothos likes to have the soil completely dry before watering it again. It’s best not to wait until the leaves begin to show signs of stress, but don’t give in to the urge to water like other houseplants.

Poor drainage can be a cause of yellow leaves on pothos. For indoor plants, make sure that there is nothing but potting soil in the pot. There should be a hole at the bottom of the pot, and there should not be a pebble on the hole. The plant needs the drainage. The other debris in the pot can create other problems, such as poisoning the plant.

With both overwatering and poor drainage, the rotting of roots is also one factor for having yellow leaves on pothos. If you tip the pot you can check for this problem. White roots are indicative of healthy roots. Tan or brown roots are signs that they are rotting.

It is possible to treat root rot but time is of the essence. Gently remove the plant from the pot. Wash the roots in cool, running tap water. As you do this, try to get as much potting soil off of the plant as you can. The old soil may contain spores that caused by rotting. Also gently remove all of the rotted roots.

Check this article to know more about Slice Seeding

When this is done, clean the pot and put the clean soil into it to replant the pothos. Follow repotting instructions, including how to water the plant properly.

Having white roots may not mean that the roots aren’t the problem. It is important to check and see if the pothos is root-bound. If roots are showing out of the hole in the bottom and they are wrapped tightly around the pot, it’s time to put it in a larger pot.

While this plant prefers fairly cool temperatures, cold drafts can also cause yellow leaves on pothos. This could be from an air conditioning duct or it could come from outdoor temperatures finding a way inside. Plants that are near windows in the winter may suffer from this. This plant also does not like too much heat. Having it close to a heating duct can also cause yellow leaves on pothos.

In areas that get extremely high temperatures a lot of the year, pothos may require air conditioning to survive. Some areas see temperatures in the high eighties to the low one hundred six or more months at a time. If you live in such an area, try to keep the plant cool enough.

As you check off things that cause yellowing of the leaves, remove the yellowed ones so you can check to see if the problem is solved. Monitoring the plant will help prevent unnecessary replanting or other methods of dealing with the problem. This is for yellowing not occurring due to older growth.

Pothos and Fertilizer

The good news is that pothos doesn’t need a lot of fertilizer, as it is a low feeding plant. That’s one of the reasons it is considered easy to grow. That said, potting soil is not known for having much in the way of nutrients. Once a month or once every two months, depending on plant size, use a small amount of fertilizer on it. If you are unsure of the volume, talk to someone at your local nursery to find out how much to use and when to apply it.

Pruning Pothos

The plant takes well to pruning. It will have a fuller, bushier appearance if the vines are kept fairly short. Thin vines can be cut back to the root ball with no problem for the plant, as new vines will grow to replace it. Pruning also prevents some of the problems with drafts and excess heat. It’s a lot easier to keep a shorter plant at the right temperature. It’s also easier to check to see if the plant is ready for more water.

You may also like this article: Plants That Can Grow From Cuttings


Pothos are sturdy, tough and easy to plant. But it doesn’t mean that they are not indestructible. So, when pothos leaves turning yellow, most people are getting worried. However, you can treat it if you apply the above information in this article. In case you want to ask more questions, you can contact us or leave your comment below.


What would make a Pothos develop brown spots like this?

My Pothos Marble Queen develops brown spots that very slowly envelop the entire leaf until it dies off. Not all the leaves turn brown and wilt like this. It seems to be picking them off one or two at a time. I love this plant, I’m worried! The brown area just feels like the leaf has gone limp, it’s not stiff or hard or anything.

I do not overwater. I wait until the soil is nice and dry between waterings. The tap water of Paris was really harsh on my plants and I think it killed my Bonnie, so I started watering them with spring water (Cristaline) around 3 months ago. My new Bonnie seems to prefer that.

It is not in direct sunlight, it’s in bright indirect sunlight, it has been very very happy in this place for months. I have a golden Pothos just above it on another shelf that is thriving like crazy, so I know it’s a good environment for them.

As it’s winter, the temperature has been cooler at night when we turn the heaters on Eco. I’d say it probably drops to 17.5°C or 18°C at the lowest. During the day, it’s 20°C.

It may be outgrowing the pot but I’m afraid to transplant it in the middle of winter. I did successfully move my Golden Pothos into a bigger pot earlier this winter and it survived just fine, so perhaps I should just go for it?

Yellow Leaves On Pothos

The yellowing of older leaves is pretty common on most houseplants as they occasionally shed the old while growing new foliage. So if the leaves that are turning yellow are the oldest ones, near the bottom of the stems not the ends, it might just be this natural process. If the yellowing leaves are more numerous and are happening over the entire plant the first thing to consider is the watering. Plants will shed more of the older growth if they are drying up in between soakings. When water isn’t abundant the plant sheds some of the leaves in order to preserve the new growth.

Leaves that go yellow are also a sign of over-watering or poor drainage, however. Pothos do best when allowed to go slightly dry (but not wilting) between waterings. If your soil has been kept constantly wet that causes root rot which leads to yellowing leaves.

The other thing that can affect indoor plants at this time of year is cold drafts from being too close to a cold window, and hot drafts from a heating unit too near the plant.

To figure things out the first thing to do is to tip the plant out of the pot. If the plant has white roots that means it probably isn’t root rot in that rotting roots are tan and brown. If the plant is very root bound, with congested roots that circle around and around in the pot, it’s time to put the plant in a new pot with new soil. (Note: don’t put any rocks or shards at the bottom of the pot – it’s the holes in a pot that are for drainage and other debris is bad for plants!)

If the roots are healthy and not too crowded, decide if you’ve been watering well enough – soak the entire root ball well every time you water but don’t let the plant sit in a saucer of water after it has gotten well hydrated. Don’t bother “misting” the plant – that does little to raise humidity and causes leaf-spot fungi.

Pick off the worst of your yellow leaves so you can monitor if the problem is continuing. You can fertilize the plant sometime in March when the days are getting longer – use fertilizer according to directions.

DEAR JESSICA: I’ve had these plants for many years. All of a sudden over the last six months or so, some of the leaves have yellowed and browned and died. I water weekly and do very little else, and they have always thrived. Have I started doing something wrong?

— David Newburger,


DEAR DAVID: Overwatering often is to blame when leaves of pothos, also known as Devil’s Ivy, turn yellow and brown. The plants thrive best when the soil they are growing in is allowed to dry between waterings, and too much water will result in a fungal disease often referred to as “root rot.”

Keeping any plant on a set watering schedule, say, once a week, isn’t ideal because conditions change throughout the year: During winter, indoor heating dries the air and may mean plants need more water. However, most houseplants do slow down during this time, as sunlight is reduced.

Timing is delicate, because allowing soil to become too dry will result in a wilted, stressed plant and potentially some tissue damage. It’s best to plunge your finger into the soil and feel for yourself whether the root area is dry.

Remove affected leaves, water only when the soil is slightly dry and resume fertilizing with a 10-10-10 or 20-20-20 product now that spring has arrived.

DEAR JESSICA: I have two Peace Lily plants, one slightly smaller than the other. The leaf tips of the larger plant show many brown, frayed edges, while the other smaller plant has just a few frayed edges. They both get indirect sunlight, and I water them generally every two weeks. I’ve had both plants for about seven or so years. What am I doing wrong?

— John McNeil,


DEAR JOHN: One reason Spathiphyllum leaf tips turn brown is overexposure to sunlight, which doesn’t seem to be the case, as you’ve noted your Peace lilies are growing in indirect light. This also can occur when plants are over- or underwatered, but if you’ve had them on the same watering schedule for seven years and you haven’t moved or altered their growing conditions, my best guess is they are succumbing to a buildup of minerals.

Minerals, such as calcium, are present in tap water, and over time can accumulate around plant roots, causing distress and inhibiting them from properly performing their functions.

Check the pots’ drainage holes. If you see a white residue, then you can be sure mineral deposits are contributing to your plants’ decline. However, an absence of this visual clue does not necessarily mean buildup around roots is not to blame.

Using sharp scissors, trim away browned edges, cutting about one-eighth of an inch into the healthy part of leaves. Next, place pots in the sink and flush the soil with plenty of bottled water until it drains freely from the bottom. Going forward, watering exclusively with bottled water should resolve the problem.

DEAR JESSICA: I read your column about the woman who was looking for a home for her inherited and overgrown Dieffenbachia. I also inherited three very old Dieffenbachias when my mother died 10 years ago. I had learned from her that you could cut pieces and easily root them in water or even directly in soil. I have propagated many babies from the originals. Some live in water for years. Others I have potted and shared with family and friends. I hope she rescues that plant! It will be a source of many offspring.

— Deborah Davenport,

via email

DEAR JESSICA: I just had to write to you about the orphan Dieffenbachia in your recent column. I’ve had my own Dieffenbachia, which I rescued from the windowsill of an office at Huntington Hospital in 1974. It was about 12 inches tall and was growing in a jar of murky green water. The housekeeper assigned to our office told me how to take care of it, and her advice was perfect because you can see a great-great-grandchild of the original plant rooting on my dining room windowsill.

At one point, the original plant grew to be about 7 feet tall, and I draped it over the top of a bookcase, where it continued to grow another 3 feet toward a bay window, and another 2 feet across the drapery rod. It fell over and cracked one day, so I cut the longest, leafless stalks off, and put 12- to 18-inch sections into jars of water. Well, it’s 44 years later and there are pieces from that original plant still growing on my windowsills.

I’ve found that the best way to prevent that kind of unruly growth is to cut back the new growth. Periodically, I’ve had to cut it way back to about 3 to 4 inches. When there are straight sections with leaves, as you can see in the white vase, I just plop them into water, and they eventually root and start sprouting new leaves. These water-rooted sections easily tolerate being potted, where they continue to grow.

— Nancy Cuccaro,


DEAR DEBORAH AND NANCY: The beautiful thing about many plants is that, as you’ve discovered, they can be propagated with little effort. Not only does this produce free plants, but it fulfills an emotional need when a plant holds sentimental value. Thanks for sharing!

By Jessica Damiano @jessicadamiano

Jessica Damiano is a master gardener, gardening coach, author and lecturer who pens Newsday’s weekly Garden Detective column. She spends her free time weeding and struggling to save her lawn from her two dogs.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *