We all strive to have healthy and beautiful plants. But plants are living organisms and very often give us surprises. Pothos is absolutely no exception, and sometimes it can be difficult. We are going to talk about one of these difficulties today.
Improper soil moisture, sunburn, low air humidity, and insects are the main reasons why Pothos leaves turn yellow. To correct the yellowing, water the pothos when the soil in the pot is about 50% dry, provide bright but not direct sunlight, and have 60% humidity. Also, spray the leaves with horticultural oil if there are signs of pests.
Improper soil moisture levels can cause pothos leaves to turn yellow
Pothos has absolutely no tolerance to wet feet. This peculiarity is a consequence of the way the pothos grows in its native environment. I mean, this plant clings to the bark of the tree and grows upwards. Its roots are placed above ground level or in the top layer of soil. Consequently, the roots are never in wet soil for long periods of time.
If you overwater pothos regularly, the root system will start to suffer from lack of air and die off. In addition, soggy soil is a perfect environment for rot. The roots will definitely start to rot and can’t deliver water to the leaves. The consequence of all this will be the yellowing of the leaves.
- Leaves turn yellow and droop. After a while, the leaves will fall off.
- The plant looks sluggish and does not grow.
- The soil in the pot is constantly moist.
- The pothos roots are mushy.
- Carefully remove the pothos from the pot and check the root system.
- If you see rot, clean all soil and wash the roots.
- Remove any rotten part of the plant with a sharp knife.
- Disinfect the wounds with a 10% hydrogen peroxide solution.
- Allow the pothos to dry for several hours.
- Plant the pothos in sterile and drained soil. It is best to use professional soil for aroids or orchids.
- Use a pot with drainage holes.
- Water the pothos only when the potting soil is half dry or more.
- Reduce watering over the winter. Allow the soil to dry completely between waterings.
Too dry air
Low air humidity is a serious problem for growing pothos plants. This is because the leaves evaporate moisture so that their surface does not dry out and thus does not die off.
But if the room is too dry or if the pothos is exposed to any sources of heat and dryness, the leaves will not be able to moisten themselves in time. The result of all this will be the yellowing of the leaves. Then they will become crispy and fall off.
The poor tolerance of dry air is because pothos grows under a canopy of large trees. This gives not only protection from the sun but also high humidity. When growing pothos indoors, the humidity is usually lower than in rainforests.
- Leaves turn yellow at first partially, then completely.
- After a while, the yellow leaves become crispy and fall off.
- Humidity in the room is below 50%.
- Leaves have a brown edge and crack.
- Place a tray of pebbles and water near the pothos.
- Put an air humidifier near the pothos and keep the humidity at least 60%.
- If you have other plants, place them and the pothos together. This will help the moisture stay near the plants.
- Avoid misting the leaves of the pothos with a sprayer as this greatly increases the risk of fungal disease.
- Avoid placing pothos near a heater.
Dehydration as a result of underwatering
Dehydration is also a common cause of yellowing pothos leaves. It is somewhat similar to overwatering because the leaves in both cases do not get enough moisture and turn yellow. Underwatering most often occurs during the hot summer months, because the soil in the pot can dry out very quickly and you may not even notice that it’s time to water.
In addition to the yellowing, the leaves will also wilt and droop. The plant may go into summer dormancy to reduce moisture evaporation. Brown spots may also appear on the leaves.
Surface watering is another common cause of dehydration. This results in only the top layer of the soil becoming moist, but no water gets to the roots.
- Leaves turn yellow and droop.
- Large brown spots can form on the leaves.
- The potting soil is dry for an extended period of time.
- You have been watering pothos superficially.
- Water the pothos with plenty of water and remove the yellow leaves.
- Between waterings, do not let the soil dry out more than 50-60%. The only exception is during the winter months when it should be 100% dry.
- Use a deep watering technique. Place the pot of pothos in a large tray of water. The water should penetrate through the drainage holes and top and saturate all the soil in the pot. Then allow the excess water to drain completely through the holes.
- Avoid frequent surface watering.
If you place pothos in direct sunlight, the leaves can get sunburn. As I said before, in nature pothos grows under the cover of the canopy of trees that provide dappled shade. If you want the pothos to thrive you need to recreate its native conditions – bright but not direct sun all day long.
There is a popular belief that pothos can be grown in total shade. For example, in a north room or windowless bathroom. This is not true, pothos needs bright indirect sunlight. Otherwise, the plant will elongate and droop. Then the leaves will start to turn yellow and fall off.
Also, the humidity in the bathroom may be too high and the ventilation insufficient. This will lead to fungal disease of the leaves.
- Leaves have yellow sunburns that slowly turn brown.
- Pothos are placed in direct sunlight.
- Leaves stretch out and turn yellow from lack of light.
- Pothos should receive at least 6 hours of indirect bright sunlight.
- Place pothos in a southern, eastern, or western room but at least 4-5 feet from a window, or to the side of a window.
- Avoid placing pothos in a northern room.
- If there is a lack of sunlight, install artificial lighting.
Lack of nutrients can cause the leaves to turn yellow. This situation is called chlorosis. Pothos is not getting enough nitrogen, iron, or magnesium from the soil due to various reasons. The leaves begin to lose chlorophyll and turn yellow, but the veins remain green.
In most cases, nutrient deficiencies are due to a lack of nutrients in the soil. Another reason could be that the soil is too alkaline and the plant cannot absorb nutrients from the soil. Root rot also blocks the access of minerals to the plant.
- Leaves turn yellow while the veins remain green.
- Parts of the leaf may turn completely yellow or brown.
- Pothos grows very slowly.
- Feed the plant with pothos complex fertilizer.
- Make sure it contains nitrogen, phosphorus, potassium, magnesium, and iron. If any element is missing, apply it separately.
- Make sure that the soil in the pot has a pH below 7.0. This can be done with tests that are available in garden stores. Acidify the soil if necessary.
- Then fertilize the pothos at least 3-4 times a season. Avoid fertilizing in the winter.
Insects have always been and continue to be a serious threat to plants. In the first place, I have to single out sucking insects. These parasites cling to the leaves and stems of pothos and feed on its sap.
The most common insects are aphids, mealy bugs, thrips, and scale insects. All of them are quite easy to spot because they are relatively large.
Next are the spider mites that also feed on pothos. They are much harder to spot because they are very small. In addition, mites are not insects and therefore need to be handled differently.
The result of their activity is that the leaves turn pale first and then yellow. Over time, the leaves fall off. If nothing is done, the plant may die.
- Leaves turn pale and then yellow.
- Pothos stops its growth.
- Traces of insects can be seen on the leaves.
- Examine the leaves and stems carefully. Use a magnifying glass to detect mites.
- If you see grayish or white insects with the naked eye, it is probably aphids or mealybugs. In that case, dilute two teaspoons of dish soap in half a gallon of water and add two tablespoons of garden oil. Spray the leaves with this mixture.
- If you find very tiny whitish bugs on the underside of the leaf with a magnifying glass, they are mites. To get rid of them you need to spray pothos with acaricide.
Fungal and other diseases
The last cause of yellowing of the leaves of pothos is a disease. But don’t be deceived, diseases can occur as often as the previous causes.
Fungal diseases usually affect the leaf blade. The spores settle on the leaves and germinate, eventually producing a brown spot. The leaf around the spot turns yellow; if there are many spots, the leaf turns yellow completely.
Mold can also appear on the leaves and stems of pothos. This will cause part of the leaf to turn first yellow and then brown.
The disease is usually caused by poor ventilation, not enough light, and overwatering, or too much humidity.
- Brown spots appear on the leaves. Leaves turn yellow.
- Mold is seen on the leaves and stems.
- Pothos grows in a windowless bathroom.
- The room where pothos grows has poor ventilation and high humidity.
- Remove badly damaged leaves.
- Provide good ventilation.
- Avoid overwatering and misting the leaves with a sprayer.
- Spray the plant with a fungicide.