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10 Reasons Why Pothos Leaves Are Turning Brown (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.

The most common cause of pothos leaves turning brown is overwatering. As a result of overwatering, the roots begin to rot and stop supplying water to the leaves, which leads to browning.

Other causes include the underwatering, direct sun, low humidity, or disease. Below we will analyze all these reasons in detail and how to fix them.


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.


  1. Let the potting soil dry out.
  2. Start watering gently, don’t give the plant too much water.
  3. 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 aroid 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.

Read also: Best Home Hydroponics System




Untimely watering can lead to brown leaves. If the soil in the pot is completely dry for some time, the first thing that will happen is that the leaves will begin to wilt.

At the same time, if the room is sunny and dry, the tips of the leaves will begin to turn brown.


  1. Water the pothos with enough water to make the soil in the pot well-soaked.
  2. Make sure that excess water flows out through the drainage holes.
  3. In the future, water the pothos when the soil in the pot is half dry.

Too much sun


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 can also be a symptom of excessive light. If there is a lot of sun exposure, the leaf may die completely.


  1. Move the pothos to a place where there is no direct sun but plenty of reflected sunlight.
  2. Cut off severely damaged leaves.
  3. Water the pothos one additional time.
  4. Cut off severely damaged leaves.
  5. Water the pothos one additional time.
  6. Give it one portion of liquid fertilizer.

Low humidity

low humidity pothos turn brown

Low humidity

Dry air can quickly dry out the leaf blade, causing the leaf to turn brown.

In most cases, the humidity in the room is about 50%, which is quite acceptable for pothos. However, if it is placed near devices that heat the air or the air in the room is too dry, the leaves may get brown spots.


  1. Increase the humidity in the room to 50% by installing a humidifier.
  2. Place all your potted plants closer together. This will increase the humidity near them a bit.
  3. Avoid placing pothos close to heating devices.


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 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.

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.

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.


  1. Spray pothos with fungicide.
  2. Provide good air circulation and humidity of 50-60%.
  3. If the roots are affected by rot, take the plant out of the pot and remove any diseased roots. Then wash the wounds with hydrogen peroxide and spray them with fungicide.
  4. Plant the pothos in well-drained soil, the pot should have drainage holes.
  5. Water the pothos very moderately.

Root Bound

root bound

Root bound

Root bound can happen if you keep your pothos in the same pot for a long time without repotting. The fact is that over time, the roots reach the walls of the pot and begin to grow in a circle. After about a year, you will get a large ball of roots intertwined with each other.

The consequence of root bound is a lack of minerals in the soil. Root rot is also possible. All of this will lead to the leaves turning brown.


  1. Transplant the pothos into a larger pot.
  2. Use a pot only 1-2 inches larger than the root ball.
  3. Trim the roots by 10% if they are heavily intertwined.
  4. Use well-drained soil.


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.

Solution 1

  1. Wash the fertilizer off the pot.
  2. Take the pothos outside and water it for a long time.
  3. Then let the water drain from the pot.

Solution 2

  1. Replace the soil in the pot.
  2. Take the pothos out of the container and gently clean all the old soil from the roots.
  3. Try not to damage any roots and do not wash them.
  4. Plant the pothos in fresh 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 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.


  1. Keep the room temperature between 75°F and 85°F.
  2. Avoid placing the pothos in a place where there are cold drafts.
  3. Do not place pothos near a heater or refrigerator.


pothos turning brown because of pests


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.

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.

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.


  1. Spray the pothos with horticultural oil to get rid of bugs.
  2. Spray the pothos with acaricide to get rid of mites.

Aging leaves

old leaves turning yellow brown

Old leaves

The old leaves of all plants die and turn brown. This is a natural process that happens every year.

Deciduous plants shed all their leaves at the end of the season. At the same time, evergreens, which include pothos, shed only old leaves. Usually, these leaves are located closer to the point where the stem enters the ground.


  1. The browning of old leaves is a natural process and nothing can be done about it.
  2. Carefully tear or cut off the brown leaves and throw them away.

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, and 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.

Related questions

Why are the tips of my Pothos leaves turning brown?

There are a few possible reasons why the tips of your Pothos leaves are turning brown:

  1. Overwatering: If you are watering your Pothos too frequently or giving it too much water at once, the roots may become waterlogged and unable to absorb enough oxygen. This can cause the tips of the leaves to turn brown.
  2. Underwatering: Conversely, if you are not watering your Pothos enough, the leaves may start to dry out and turn brown.
  3. Low humidity: Pothos plants prefer a relatively humid environment, and if the air is too dry, the tips of the leaves may turn brown.
  4. Chemical burn: If you have recently fertilized your Pothos or used a chemical spray on it, this may cause the tips of the leaves to turn brown.
  5. Natural aging: Finally, it is normal for the oldest leaves on a Pothos plant to turn yellow or brown and fall off as new growth appears.

Why are the stems of my Pothos leaves turning brown?

If the stems of your Pothos leaves are turning brown, it may be due to one of the following reasons:

  1. Root rot: Pothos plants are susceptible to root rot if they are overwatered or if the soil is not well-draining. When the roots of the plant are affected by root rot, the stems, and leaves may turn brown and eventually die.
  2. Fungal or bacterial infection: Fungal or bacterial infections can also cause the stems of Pothos leaves to turn brown. These infections can be caused by overwatering, high humidity, or poor air circulation.
  3. Insect infestation: Insects like spider mites or thrips can cause the stems of Pothos leaves to turn brown. These insects can damage the plant by feeding on its leaves and stems.
  4. Natural aging: Just like with the tips of the leaves, the stems of the oldest leaves on a Pothos plant may turn brown and dry up as they age.

To address the issue, first determine the cause of the browning stems. If it’s due to overwatering, adjust your watering schedule and make sure the soil is well-draining. If it’s due to a fungal or bacterial infection, isolate the affected plant and treat it with a fungicide or bactericide.

If it’s due to an insect infestation, treat the plant with an insecticide or remove the affected leaves. If it’s due to natural aging, simply prune the affected leaves and stems to promote new growth.

What do you do when pothos leaves turn brown?

Here are some steps you can take:

  1. Make sure the soil is moist but not waterlogged, and adjust your watering schedule accordingly.
  2.  Increase humidity levels by misting the leaves with water or placing a humidifier near the plant.
  3. Check for signs of pest infestation and treat the plant with an appropriate insecticide.
  4. Remove diseased leaves and treat the plant with a fungicide or bactericide.
  5. Trim brown leaves to encourage new growth and prevent the brown tips from spreading.

Can brown pothos leaves turn green again?

Unfortunately, once Pothos leaves have turned brown, they cannot turn green again. However, it is important to note that not all brown leaves are necessarily dead or beyond saving.

If the brown is only affecting the tips or edges of the leaves, you can trim them off and promote new growth. In some cases, if the browning is due to a temporary stressor such as over or under-watering, fixing the underlying issue can prevent further browning and allow new, healthy growth to emerge.

Should I cut brown leaves off pothos?

Yes, it is recommended to cut off brown leaves from Pothos plants as soon as you notice them. This is because brown leaves can indicate that the leaf tissue is dead or damaged, and leaving them on the plant can attract pests and diseases, and may even spread to other healthy leaves.

When cutting brown leaves off a Pothos plant, use a sharp, clean pair of scissors or pruning shears. Cut as close to the base of the leaf as possible, without damaging the stem or other leaves. This will promote new growth and help the plant focus its energy on producing healthy leaves.

What does an overwatered pothos look like?

An overwatered Pothos plant may exhibit several symptoms, including:
  1. Yellowing leaves: When a Pothos plant is overwatered, the roots may become waterlogged and begin to rot, which can lead to the leaves turning yellow.
  2. Wilting leaves: Overwatered Pothos plants may also develop wilted leaves that are limp and droopy.
  3. Root rot: Overwatering can cause root rot, which can be identified by brown or black roots that feel mushy to the touch.
  4. Soft stems: Overwatered Pothos plants may also have soft, mushy stems that feel waterlogged.
  5. Fungal growth: Overwatered soil can create a moist environment that is conducive to fungal growth, which may appear as white or green fuzzy patches on the soil surface.