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Pothos Leaves Turning Brown (Why And How To Fix It)

Tropical plants are some of the most interesting indoor plants. Among them, pothos is worth mentioning because there are many varieties to suit all tastes. But when you grow this plant, not in its native environment, there are all kinds of problems. We will talk about one of them today.

Overwatering, dehydration, sunburn, or disease are the main causes of pothos leaves turning brown and dry. To fix brown pothos leaves, water the plant when the soil is half dry, move it to a place with bright, diffused sunlight, and make sure the room is well ventilated.

The next two reasons for brown leaves on pothos are too much fertilizer and improper room temperature. And finally, pests can also be the cause of brown pothos leaves.

Why are my pothos leaves turning brown? Symptoms How to fix it
Overwatering (Root rot) The tips of the leaves turn brown. There are also large brown spots in the center of the leaf. The soil should dry 1-2 inches deep between waterings. The soil should be well-drained. The pot should have drainage holes.
Direct sunlight Large brown areas on the leaf. The entire leaf is brown. Place the plant where there is no direct sunlight.
Diseases The entire leaf turns brown. The stems of pothos turn brown. Small brown spots on leaves. Transplant the plant into clean soil. Use fungicides for treatment. Water moderately.
Overfertilization The tips of the leaves turn brown. The plant looks sluggish. Replace the soil. Do not fertilize pothos more often than once every 1 or 2 months.
Inappropriate temperature The leaf changes color evenly to brown. Pothos must grow in a temperature range of 75-85 °F.
Pests The leaves are gradually turning brown. Traces of insects are visible. Spray pothos with horticultural oil or pesticide.

Overwatering can cause the potus leaves to turn brown and dry

Pothos leaves turning brown because of overwatering. (Root rot)

Pothos leaves turning brown because of overwatering. (Root rot)

One of the main causes of brown pothos leaves is overwatering. Too long in a wet environment will lead to root rot. As a result, large brown spots begin to appear on the leaves. Leaves can also turn brown starting from the tips.

To remedy the situation, the first thing to do is to let the potting soil dry out. Then start watering gently, don’t give the plant too much water. The roots and soil should be moist after watering, but the soil should be 1-2 inches dry before the next watering. Each time before watering, check the moisture of the soil with your fingers and if the top layer is wet don’t water yet.

You should also take care of the soil. Pothos likes well-drained soil, so if your soil is too compact and stagnant you need to repot the plant. You can make your own potting soil but do so only if you have experience. Or you can buy ready-made aroids potting soil and this should make things a lot easier. Usually, commercially available potting mixes work well.

Also when transplanting, make sure that the pot has some drainage holes. If not then drill them. The holes will reduce the risk of root rot and the pothos will be fine.

Direct sunlight


Pothos leaves turning brown because of sunburn

Direct sun can also cause leaves to turn brown. This is called sunburn. Usually, the leaf will get large light browns in the center or on one of the halves. Browning of the tips or edges of the leaf can also be a symptom of excessive light. If there is a lot of sun exposure, the leaf may die completely.

The obvious solution to this problem is to move the pothos to a less brightly lighted location. The best place would be on the side of a south-facing window. You can also place this plant near an east or west window. But then you have to experiment to find out whether it is better for the pothos in front of or to the side of the window.

If you don’t have a good spot with the right kind of light, you can create artificial conditions. Place the pothos in a dark room and install artificial lighting. As a result, you can easily control the lighting by turning the leaves brown.

Although pothos doesn’t like direct light, it still needs plenty of light energy to thrive. Lack of light will cause pothos to grow very slowly and its stems to be elongated and brittle.


Pothos leaves turning brown because of the disease

Pothos leaves turning brown because of the disease

Another of the most common causes of pothos foliage turning brown is a disease. In fact, many types of diseases can affect your pothos and cause its leaves to turn brown. Let’s go over the most important ones briefly.

Fungal diseases are the primary concern for most plants. In most cases, the fungus spores will settle on the leaves of the pothos and begin to develop. At first, they are not noticeable, but after a while, the leaf becomes covered with brown spots and the leaf turns partially or completely yellow. To deal with this you need to spray pothos with fungicide.

The second type is Bacterial Leaf Spot. The symptoms are very similar to the previous one, with big brown spots on the leaves. Over time, they progress and stop at the veins of the leaf. To cure it, you need good air circulation, moderate humidity, and regular treatment with fungicides that contain copper hydroxide.

Another disease is Southern Blight. It affects the base of the plant. As a result, the leaves and stems turn completely brown. To cure pothos you have to remove all the diseased tissue and wash all the wounds with fungicide. Then plant the plant in clean and loose potting soil.

And finally root rot, this disease also causes pothos leaf browning. This disease is caused by overwatering and too dense soil. To remedy the situation, you have to take the plant out of the pot and remove any diseased roots. Then wash the wounds with hydrogen peroxide and spray with fungicide. Then plant the pothos in disease-free soil, the pot should have drainage holes. Next, water the pothos very moderately.


Pothos leaves turn brown due to overfeeding.

Pothos leaves turn brown due to overfeeding.

Excessive fertilizer can cause pothos leaves to turn brown. First, the leaf margin and tips turn brown, and then the leaf parts can also turn brown. Other symptoms are yellowing of the lower leaves and weakness of the whole plant.

To fix the consequences of overfeeding you will need to wash the fertilizer off the pot. Take the pothos outside and water it for a long time. Then let the roots dry out a bit by taking them out of the pot for a while.

You can also go the other way and replace the soil in the pot. Take the pothos out of the container and gently clean all the old soil from the roots. Try not to damage any roots and do not wash them. Plant the pothos in new loose soil.

Next, avoid overfeeding the pothos. This plant needs to be fed no more than once every 4-8 weeks during the growing season. The amount of fertilizer should not be too much. Fertilizer NPK 10-10-10 is best. You should avoid fertilizing pothos in the fall and winter because the plant is dormant at this time.

Inappropriate temperature

Temperature stress

Pothos leaves turn brown because of low temperature.

Improper temperature regimes can cause your pothos to have brown leaves. This is especially true at low temperatures. If the ambient temperature is below 50°F (10°C), the pothos will first slow its growth and then the leaves will gradually begin to turn brown.

Also, sudden temperature changes will cause the leaves to turn brown or even red. This often happens when pothos is taken outside in the summer. It can be warm during the day and quite cold at night. As a result, the pothos changes color.

To avoid this, it’s best to keep it at a normal temperature. Pothos grow best between 75 °F and 85 °F. Slight deviations from this recommendation will not cause serious harm to the plant.

A few words about humidity. The pothos likes a slightly higher humidity than you would find in a regular house. Some people mist their pothos for this reason, and this can do some good. But be careful, excessive humidity can also cause leaf problems.

In the pothos’ native environment, there is high humidity, but it is growing outdoors and therefore with very good air movement. You can’t get that level of ventilation indoors. As a result, pothos can get sick if it is misted too often.


Pests are the last cause of the browning of pothos leaves. You won’t see any changes with a small number of them, but if they spread very widely, the plant may suffer.

The most common insects are aphids and mealybugs. They are sucked into the plant and feed on its sap. As a result, the cells of the plant do not receive nutrients and die. This becomes visible as brown leaves. To get rid of these pests you need to spray the pothos with a water solution of horticultural oil.

The second type is scale insects. These pests have a white shell under which they live and multiply. It is a little more difficult to get rid of them than the previous pests. You need to spray the pothos with pesticides several times so that they leave your plant alone.

And the third type is the spider mite. This pest is very small and can only be spotted by the thin webbing on the plant. It also sucks on the tissues of the plant and causes discoloration of the leaves. To defeat it, you need to use a special product called acaricide.

Key Takeaways:

  • Too frequent and superficial watering is the cause of pothos leaves turning brown. Water the pothos when the potting soil is 40-50% dry.
  • Direct sunlight will burn the pothos leaves and turn them brown. Move the pothos to a place with indirect but bright sunlight.
  • Diseases can cause brown spots on the leaves. Sometimes pothos will turn completely brown. Remove diseased leaves, spray pothos with fungicide, provide good air circulation.
  • Too much fertilizer applied will cause large brown spots on the leaves. Feed the pothos no more than once every 1.5 to 2 months.