Skip to Content

8 Typical Mistakes That Cause Pothos to Die (And How to Fix Them)

Pothos plants hold a special spot among the many great options for indoor gardening, thanks to their widespread appeal. However, even with their popularity, they’re not without their challenges, which we’re here to address in this article.

One major issue is overwatering, which can cause root rot and potentially kill the plant. It’s a common mistake that can be a real threat to houseplants, particularly pothos

1. Overwatering

Pothos dying because of root rot

Pothos dying because of root rot caused by overwatering.

Root rot is a serious problem for all plants, capable of destroying them within days, and pothos are particularly vulnerable to it. Overwatering is often the culprit, leading to this destructive condition.

The initial signs of root rot include yellowing and drooping leaves, along with brown spots. As the condition worsens, leaves may start to fall off, and the growth of the pothos will slow significantly.

Here’s the fix:

  1. First, cut back on watering.
  2. Gently remove the pothos from its pot, shaking off all the excess soil and cleaning the roots thoroughly.
  3. Trim away any dead sections of the root.
  4. Mix 10 ml of hydrogen peroxide with 100 ml of water and apply it to the affected areas to treat any wounds.
  5. Get rid of any dead leaves.
  6. Repot the pothos in a pot with drainage holes to prevent water from accumulating.
  7. Fill the pot with a clean, fresh aroid-specific soil mix.
  8. From now on, only water the pothos when the soil is about 80% dry to avoid future issues.

2. Dehydration

Underwatering

Pothos dying because of underwatering.

Lack of water can also harm your pothos. Despite its resilience and ability to withstand short dry spells, it needs regular watering to flourish. Insufficient water will slow down its growth and eventually lead to leaf loss.

Signs of dehydration include droopy, wrinkled leaves. The leaves might also curl if the surrounding air is too dry.

Here’s the fix:

  1. Regularly check the soil’s moisture level.
  2. Water your pothos when 70-80% of the soil has dried out, making sure not to leave the roots dry for extended periods.
  3. Try bottom watering: immerse the pothos in a water-filled container slightly taller than the pot for a few minutes. Then, let any excess water drain away through the pot’s drainage holes.

3. Temperature Stress

Pothos dying because of low temperature.

Pothos dying because of low temperature.

Pothos thrives in tropical climates, favoring warm temperatures. Even slight changes in temperature can impact its health and appearance, especially when exposed to cold drafts. Not maintaining the right temperature can lead to visible problems on the leaves, and if left unaddressed, the plant might begin to perish.

Signs of distress include wilting and misshapen leaves. Overheating can cause the leaves to yellow and drop off.

Here’s the fix:

  1. Trim away any damaged leaves and stems to promote healthy growth.
  2. Ensure the pothos is kept in a temperature range between 65-80°F (18-25°C) for optimal health.
  3. Avoid placing your pothos near heat sources such as heaters, air conditioners, fans, or refrigerators, which can cause temperature fluctuations.
  4. Keep your pothos inside if there’s a risk of cold weather, as it’s not suited for chilly outdoor environments.

4. Insects

Pest infestation

Pothos dying because of pest infestation.

Many pests pose a significant threat to your pothos, potentially leading to its gradual decline. This is particularly the case with sucking insects such as aphids, mealybugs, thrips, and mites.

The presence of these pests can cause your pothos to stop growing, with leaves turning yellow or developing spots. You might also notice leaves twisting or bumps forming on them.

Here’s the fix:

  1. Trim away leaves that are severely damaged.
  2. If feasible, manually remove pests from the leaves.
  3. Treat the leaves with horticultural oil to deter pests.
  4. Apply the horticultural oil again after one week to ensure any remaining pests are eradicated.

5. Low Humidity

Pothos dying because of dry air.

Pothos dying because of dry air.

Humidity plays a crucial role in the health of pothos plants. Low humidity levels can prevent the leaves from maintaining adequate moisture through evaporation, which might lead to various health problems for the plant.

You might notice the leaves becoming pale and shriveled. A further consequence is that leaves may turn yellow and drop off.

Here’s the fix:

  1. Aim to maintain a humidity level of 60-70% around your pothos by misting the leaves regularly.
  2. Group your plants together; this creates a microclimate with higher humidity.
  3. Ensure the pothos receives enough water to avoid underwatering.
  4. Place your pothos away from heat sources or air conditioning units that can reduce air moisture.

6. Soil Issue

Pothos dying because not enough nutrients.

Pothos dying because not enough nutrients.

Compact, poorly drained soil can be detrimental to pothos plants, as it hampers proper air circulation to the roots and leads to waterlogging. This condition often results in root rot, eventually causing the plant to die.

Another issue is soil that’s too alkaline or nutrient-deficient. A soil pH significantly above 7.0 can lock out essential nutrients, making them inaccessible to the pothos. A lack of nutrients makes survival difficult for the plant in a home environment.

Additionally, a pot that’s too small can restrict root growth, causing them to coil and leading to stunted growth and potentially the plant’s demise.

Signs of these problems include slow growth, yellowing and dropping of leaves, and symptoms of chlorosis on the leaves.

Here’s the fix:

  1. Repot the pothos into a pot that’s 25% larger than the current one.
  2. Opt for a loose, well-draining soil mix, ideally one specifically formulated for aroids.
  3. Ensure the soil pH is between 6.0 and 6.5 for optimal nutrient uptake.
  4. Regularly fertilize the pothos, at least once a month, with a liquid fertilizer designed for aroids.

7. Inadequate Lighting

Pothos dying because of lack of light.

Pothos dying because of lack of light.

Lack of adequate light can be detrimental to pothos plants. Initially, they might manage in low-light conditions but will begin to stretch out, using up their stored energy reserves. This unsustainable growth leads to the plant’s eventual fatigue and death.

Conversely, too much direct sunlight can scorch the leaves, causing them to wither. Severe damage from excessive sunlight can also lead to the plant’s demise.

Signs of these issues include elongated, soft stems and leaves, with a pale coloration, overall giving the plant an unhealthy appearance.

Here’s the fix:

  1. Trim away severely damaged leaves to promote healthy growth.
  2. Relocate the pothos to a spot where it can enjoy at least 6 hours of indirect sunlight daily.
  3. Keep the plant out of direct sunlight to prevent leaf burn.
  4. Consider adding an artificial light source to ensure the plant receives enough light, especially in areas of your home that lack natural sunlight.

8. Disease

Disease

Pothos dying because of disease.

Different diseases manifest through various symptoms on your pothos. If you notice your plant is struggling, take a moment to thoroughly examine it. Check for any brown spots on both leaves and stems. It’s important to look at the stems where they emerge from the roots to ensure there’s no rot, and also inspect the leaves for any signs of mold.

Common signs of distress include yellowing leaves that eventually drop off, along with the presence of brown or black spots. Mold or rot may also be visible on the leaves.

Here’s the fix:

  1. Cut away any affected parts of the plant to prevent further spread of the disease.
  2. Treat the pothos with a copper-based fungicide, following the application instructions carefully.
  3. After a few days, apply a different type of fungicide as a follow-up treatment.
  4. Ensure the room where the pothos is located is well-ventilated to reduce moisture accumulation.
  5. Use sterile potting soil to minimize the risk of disease.
  6. Try to avoid placing the pothos in areas of your home with high humidity levels.