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Yellow Leaves on Pothos (7 Causes With Solutions)

We all aim for thriving, vibrant plants, yet being living beings, they occasionally throw curveballs our way. Pothos plants are no different, and they can sometimes present challenges. Today, we’re diving into one such issue.

When you notice yellow leaves on your pothos, it might signal root rot, often stemming from soil that’s too wet. This condition can arise from watering your plant too much, inadequate drainage, or using dense soil. In cases of pythium root rot, the roots turn black and mushy, leading older leaves to yellow and detach from the plant.

1. Overwatering

Pothos leaves turned yellow because of improper moisture levels.

Pothos leaves turned yellow because of improper moisture levels.

Pothos plants really don’t do well with soggy conditions, a trait that stems from their natural growth habits. In the wild, these plants latch onto tree bark and grow upwards, keeping their roots above the ground or just in the topsoil layer. This means their roots rarely, if ever, stay soaked for extended periods.

Consistently overwatering pothos can lead to root rot, preventing the roots from supplying water to the leaves, which eventually causes the leaves to turn yellow.

Solution:

  1. Gently take the pothos out of its pot to inspect the root system.
  2. Remove all the soil and rinse the roots clean.
  3. Cut away any rotten parts of the plant.
  4. Apply a 10% hydrogen peroxide solution to disinfect the cuts.
  5. Repot the pothos in fresh aroid mix soil.
  6. Choose a pot with drainage holes to prevent waterlogging.
  7. Water the plant only when the topsoil feels dry to the touch, typically when it’s about halfway dry or more.
  8. Cut back on watering during the colder months.

2. Low Humidity

Pothos leaves turned yellow because of low humidity.

Pothos leaves turned yellow because of low humidity.

If the air in your room is too dry or your pothos is near heat sources, its leaves might not be able to stay hydrated properly. This lack of moisture can lead to the leaves turning yellow, becoming brittle, and eventually falling off.

Solution:

  1. Position a humidifier close to your pothos, aiming to maintain the humidity around 60%.
  2. Group it with other plants to create a microenvironment with higher moisture levels, which benefits all the plants involved.
  3. Steer clear of spraying the pothos leaves directly to reduce the risk of fungal diseases.
  4. Keep the plant away from heaters to avoid dry conditions.

3. Underwatering

Underwatering

Pothos leaves turned yellow because of underwatering.

Dehydration can lead to the yellowing of pothos leaves, much like overwatering, because in both scenarios, the leaves lack sufficient moisture. This issue is especially prevalent during the warm summer months when the soil dries out rapidly, sometimes before you realize it’s time to water again.

Solution:

  1. Thoroughly water your pothos, ensuring it gets enough hydration.
  2. Trim off any yellow leaves.
  3. Try to keep the soil from drying out completely between waterings, aiming for it to be only 60-70% dry.
  4. Employ a deep watering method to ensure water reaches the deeper root zones.

4. Direct Sun

Pothos leaves turned yellow because of sunburn.

Pothos leaves turned yellow because of sunburn.

Placing pothos in direct sunlight can lead to sunburned leaves. To prevent the leaves from turning yellow, it’s essential to mimic the plant’s natural habitat, which means providing plenty of bright light but without direct exposure to the sun throughout the day.

Solution:

  1. Make sure your pothos gets at least 6 hours of bright, indirect sunlight daily.
  2. Try to avoid situating your pothos in a room facing north, as it might not get enough light.
  3. In cases where natural light is insufficient, consider supplementing with artificial lighting to meet the plant’s needs.

5. Improper Fertilization

Improper fertilization

Pothos leaves turned yellow because of improper fertilization.

When pothos leaves start turning yellow, it’s often a sign of nutrient deficiency, a condition known as chlorosis. This happens when the plant isn’t getting enough essential nutrients like nitrogen, iron, or magnesium from the soil, leading to a loss of chlorophyll in the leaves, which turn yellow while the veins stay green.

Nutrient shortages are typically caused by insufficient nutrients in the soil, but they can also occur if the soil is too alkaline, preventing the plant from absorbing available nutrients. Additionally, root rot can hinder the plant’s ability to take up minerals.

Solution:

  1. Use a fertilizer specifically designed for aroids, ensuring it includes key nutrients such as nitrogen, phosphorus, potassium, magnesium, and iron.
  2. Check that the soil’s pH level is below 7.0 to optimize nutrient absorption.
  3. Apply fertilizer to your pothos once or twice a month to maintain healthy growth and vibrant foliage.

6. Insects

Pothos leaves turned yellow because of pest infestation.

Pothos leaves turned yellow because of pest infestation.

Insects pose a constant challenge to plant health, with aphids, mealybugs, thrips, and scale insects being among the most prevalent threats. These pests are relatively easy to identify due to their size.

Spider mites, on the other hand, also target pothos but are much more difficult to detect because of their tiny size.

Solution:

  1. Thoroughly inspect the leaves and stems of your pothos, using a magnifying glass to spot any mites.
  2. Treat your pothos with horticultural oil to eliminate pests.
  3. Repeat the treatment as necessary to ensure all pests are eradicated.

7. Diseases

Fungal disease

Pothos leaves turned yellow because of fungal disease.

Disease is another reason why pothos leaves may turn yellow, with fungal infections often impacting the leaf blade. Fungal spores land on the leaves, germinate, and lead to the formation of brown spots. Surrounding areas of the leaf may turn yellow, and if numerous spots appear, the entire leaf can become yellow.

Solution:

  1. Prune away leaves that are severely affected.
  2. Ensure the plant is in a well-ventilated area.
  3. Avoid overwatering and refrain from misting the leaves directly.
  4. Treat the plant with a fungicide to combat the fungal infection.