Why is my pothos leaves turning yellow? If this is a question you’re asking yourself, you’ve come to the right place. Yellow leaves on pothos is not normal but it can happen.
Like most houseplants, your pothos will use its leaves to give you a hint of how well it is doing. More leaf production and larger leaves with vibrant colors means it is healthy and happy.
Yellow or brown leaves, wilting or other abnormalities likewise point to specific issues as well.
in this article, I’ll go into detail into a pothos’ yellow leaves, what causes then and how to treat it as well as what to do when you notice this kind of discoloration.
Why are My Pothos Leaves Turning Yellow?
Pothos leaves turning yellow can be caused by many things. In almost all cases, it is a sign that there’s something wrong. This means the plant is getting too much or too little of a certain requirement.
The most common reasons for yellow pothos leaves are overwatering and too much direct sunlight. However, the causes are not limited to that.
As such, the only way to make sure what the cause of your pothos’ yellow leaves is to check each of the potential causes and eliminate them one by one.
As you get to know your plant better, you’ll have a better feel and will instinctively be able to tell what the problem is without going through the entire list.
Reasons Why Your Pothos has Yellow Leaves
Too Much Light
Pothos enjoys generous amounts of light. As such, they’ll thrive in moderate and bright, indirect light indoors. Outdoors, they enjoy partial to bright shade.
However, there’s a limit to how much light they can tolerate. That’s because in the rainforests, pothos live under the canopy of trees. As such, they leaves, branches and larger plants filter and diffuse the rays of the sun.
As such, they cannot withstand direct sunlight for long hours on a daily basis. If you leave them in this kind of environment, you’ll see your pothos leaves turning yellow.
Eventually, they’ll experience sunburn or get scorched. These will manifest themselves are burn marks or brown to black spots on the edges of the leaves.
As such, discoloration is a sign you want to watch out for.
Therefore, if you see this happening, move your pothos to somewhere with less intense or bright light. However, be careful not to leave it somewhere that has too little light as that will pose other problems was well.
Overwatering is usually the cause of yellow leaves on pothos is the yellowing happens everywhere. Because this affects the roots, you’ll see a lot of leaves turn yellow at the same time. And the yellowing is not localized to the bottom leaves or a section of the plant.
Instead, it is all over or widespread.
This is usually your biggest cue. It is also a major warning sign.
That’s because yellow pothos leaves from overwatering can be a sign of a bigger problem, root rot. Often, leaf discoloration is the symptom, and while too much water is the cause, the main damage happens in the roots since they’re the once stuck in water.
Root rot is something you always need to look out for because pothos are sensitive to overwatering. And when the roots rot or get damaged, it prevents them from absorbing nutrients and water from the soil.
After a while, the plant will experience dehydration from lack of water (no water how much you water the soil) and nutrient deficiencies (which can also cause yellow leaves).
As such, when it comes to watering your pothos, always keep these things in mind:
- Allow the soil to dry at least 1-2 inches from the top. If you want to be more conservative, you can wait a bit longer and water it when the soil is between 25% to 75% dry. Anywhere in this range is perfect as it ensures you never over water the plant and it is far from being dehydrated as well.
- Use well-draining soil. In addition to proper watering, don’t forget to use soil with good drainage. It won’t matter that you’re watering your plant with perfect frequency if the soil retains all the moisture. This will ultimately lead to waterlogged soil, which means the roots still end up sitting in water for long periods of time. Therefore, make sure the potting mix you choose drains excess moisture.
- Pot with drainage holes. Finally, the excess moisture needs to get out of the pot. Or else, the soil will eventually re-absorb all the liquid bringing you back where you started, overwatering.
If you suspect root rot due to the yellow leaves, unpot the plant and inspect the roots. Healthy roots are firm and white in color. If you see brown, black, mushy or smelly roots, there’s rotting going on.
Prune these and repot the plant in dry soil. Also, adjust your watering schedule.
Too much fertilizer can be another major culprit. The reason is that we’re all led to believe that fertilizer helps plants grow. What’s left out of the marketing slogans is that too much fertilizer can also burn your plant’s roots and cause its leaves to turn yellow.
This includes pothos plants.
Therefore, avoid overfeeding your plant.
Ideally, use a balanced liquid fertilizer once a month during its growing season. You don’t need to feed it more than that. And don’t feed in late fall and winter as well.
Too much plant food will cause fertilizer burn. This will damage the roots and cause smaller leaves and make them turn yellow as well.
Additionally, avoid cheap fertilizer products as well. That’s because they leave a lot of salts and other minerals in the soil. As these build up, they cause fertilizer burn as well.
Thus, if you suspect that your pothos yellowing leaves is caused by too much fertilizer, you can flush the soil using water to get rid of the excess salts and minerals.
Do this once every 2-3 months.
Alternatively, you can repot the plant in fresh potting mix as well.
Pothos do best in consistently moderate to warm conditions. It comes from tropical regions so it likes this kind of weather.
As such, its ideal temperature range is between 70 and 90 degrees. Just as importantly, since there’s no snow or frost in the tropics, the plant does not tolerate temperatures below 50 degrees Fahrenheit.
Therefore, try to keep things around its ideal range. The farther off you veer from that, the slower its growth will get. Also, past a certain point, the plant will experience stress.
This is less likely to happen in hot weather although it can if you leave the plant in over 100 degree temperature. The larger threat comes from cold damage and injury.
That said, both too hot and too cold can result in your pothos leaves turning yellow.
The other aspect of tropical weather is humidity. As such, pothos enjoy humidity of 50% and higher. Although most can tolerate average room humidity to a certain degree.
That said, try to keep humidity at 40% and higher to avoid dry, crispy, brown leaf tips.
Browning leaves are usually the first signs of lack of humidity. And it will begin in the leaf’s tips and edges. After a while, it can cause the entire leaf to turn brown.
In the later stages, yellowing leaves will occur as well. And together with the brown leaves they will eventually drop and start falling off the plant.
Therefore, if you live somewhere with low humidity, I suggest in picking up a digital hygrometer. It is fairly inexpensive and will tell you what the humidity is in the room at any time.
This will let you take action if needed.
You can install a humidifier, mist the plant or place it in a pebble tray.
Pothos attract sap sucking insects like mealybugs, spider mites, aphids and scales. Theses pests do damage by robbing the plant of its sap, which contains moisture and nutrients that are supposed to reach different parts of the plant including the leaves.
When these pests grow in number (which they do quickly), it causes moisture loss and depletes nutrient stores.
Lack of moisture eventually will cause yellow leaves on your pothos. Additionally, some mineral deficiencies can likewise result in yellow foliage.
Thus, it is very important to get rid of these bugs before they grow in population and do lots of damage.
Fungus infections are a result of excess moisture. Unfortunately, it does not discriminate whether the moisture is on the leaves, stems or soil.
It will take advantage of any moisture that’s available.
The problem is fungal growth can cause all sorts of problems including nutrient depletion, root rot and plant healthy deterioration.
It will also cause yellow leaves on your pothos as well as make the leaves eventually drop.
Usually, fungal leaf infections are caused by wet leaves that don’t dry fast enough. So, avoid wetting the leaves too much especially later in the day.
But fungal disease can also hit the stems in addition to the leaves. This is why you want to be careful when misting the plant.
Finally, avoid overwatering which leaves the soil wet and dame. This makes the environment inviting to pathogens like fungus and bacteria.
Lack of Water
Lack of water can likewise be the reason you have yellow leaves on your pothos. Although this occurs less in pothos plants because they can tolerate some dryness.
Nevertheless, if you allow their soil to go bone dry for prolonged periods of time, your plant will eventually experience this.
As such, it is important to check the soil before adding more water or cutting back on water.
- If the soil is mucky and wet, you’re likely overwatering the plant.
- If the soil feels very dry, you’re likely underwatering it.
If it is the latter, when you unpot the plant, you’ll notice no root rot and the soil dry all the way down.
The good news is, pothos recover very quickly from underwatering.
However, if you let they get dehydrated long enough, they’ll get damaged as well. Overdoing this can also kill your plant eventually.
That’s because pothos need water. And when it lacks water and gets dehydrated it will conserve energy. Over time, this will result in yellowing leaves. Then they will drop.
Later, the plant will deteriorate as well if things are not fixed.
Last but not least, one or two yellow leaves now and then may mean nothing. Your pothos leaves turn yellow naturally as part of their life cycle. After that, they’ll drop.
This makes room for new young leaves and it is why plants shed older leaves.
If this is what’s happening, then there’s nothing to worry about.
However, the main sign of this is that the leaves that are older are at the bottom of the plant. And you should not see many leaves turning yellow at once.
Finally, it should only happen once in a while not continuously.
Otherwise, if there are lots of leaves turning yellow and they keep doing so, something else is happening.
What Do You Do When Pothos Leaves Turn Yellow?
The only way to fix a pothos leaves turning yellow is to fix the underlying problem. To do so, go through all the potential reasons above and check which one or ones are actually causing the issue.
A pothos leaves only turn yellow when there’s something causing them to. So, you need to diagnose this problem. And once you do, immediately treat it.
Once the issue is fixed, you’ll see fewer and fewer leaves turn yellow or they will immediately stop turning yellow.
Here’s a quick list of what to check:
- Make sure it is not getting too much light or direct sunshine.
- Check for overwatering. The soil should not feel wet, mucky or soggy.
- If you’re not sure, unpot the plant and check for root rot. Prune the rotted roots if there are any and repot. If there is no root rot, keep the plant in its pot and make sure that the soil is not overwatered.
- Ensure you’re not overfeeding the plant.
- Keep the plant in moderate to warm locations. Its ideal temperature is between 70 and 85 degrees Fahrenheit. Avoid anything colder than 50 degrees. Make sure nighttime temperature does not drop that low (this can sneak up on you because you’re asleep during this time).
- Check for humidity. Keep your pothos in 40% humidity or higher, ideally 50% and above. Get a digital hygrometer if you’re not sure what the humidity is in your home.
- Check for pests. Remove any pests if you see them.
- Monitor for any infections or diseases.
- Make sure that the soil is not bone dry. Water the plant if it is. It should recover quickly from this.
Should I Remove Yellow Leaves from Pothos?
Yes, almost all the time yellow leaves will not turn green again. In fact, they can spread especially if the cause is an infection. Therefore pruning your pothos’ yellow leaves is the best solution.
Make sure to sterilize your scissors’ blade before cutting the leaves off. This ensures that there are no potential pathogens passed on from the cutting tool to the plant.
Just as importantly, avoid trimming more than one-third of the plant in one sitting. If your pothos has mostly yellow leaves, limit your pruning session to about a quarter to 30%. Then wait a while before removing more of them.
Don’t remove all or majority of the plant’s leaves at once.
In the meantime, make sure that you figure out what the underlying cause for the yellowing leaves are. It is very important to fix this issue. Otherwise, healthy leaves will turn yellow eventually and the cycle will never stop until your plant weakens significantly or can’t be saved.
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Can Yellow Pothos Leaves Turn Green Again?
In almost all cases no. However, there are rare cases where yellow leaves can turn green again. This only occurs if you catch the overwatering problem very early.
That said, most of the time, you’ll likely need to remove the yellow leaves since they will continue yellowing as the problem progresses.
More importantly, you need to fix whatever is causing your pothos leaves to turn yellow. If the source of the problem is not remedied, your plant will continue turning healthy green leaves yellow.