Common Causes and Solutions for Yellowing Pothos Leaves: A Comprehensive Guide


Are your pothos leaves turning yellow? Don’t worry, you’re not alone! This is a common issue that many plant owners face. There can be several reasons why your pothos leaves are changing color, and it’s important to understand the underlying causes in order to address the problem effectively.

One possible reason for yellowing leaves is improper watering. Pothos plants require regular watering, but too much or too little can cause stress to the plant and lead to yellowing leaves. Underwatering is a common culprit, especially if you notice that the leaves are drooping and curling. On the other hand, overwatering can also be problematic, as it can lead to root rot and suffocate the plant.

Another factor to consider is the amount of light your pothos plant is receiving. While pothos can tolerate a wide range of light conditions, they do best in bright, indirect light. If your plant is not getting enough light, the leaves may turn yellow or develop brown spots. On the other hand, if your pothos is exposed to too much direct sunlight, the leaves may become scorched and turn yellow as well.

In addition to watering and light, nutrient deficiencies can also cause yellow leaves. Pothos plants are known to be heavy feeders, meaning they require regular fertilization to thrive. If you’re not supplementing your pothos plant with enough nutrients, it may start showing signs of stress, including yellowing leaves. Ensuring that you’re using the correct type and amount of fertilizer is crucial for maintaining the health of your pothos plant.

Lastly, temperature and humidity can also play a role in the yellowing of pothos leaves. Pothos plants prefer temperatures between 65-85 degrees Fahrenheit and thrive in higher humidity. If the temperature drops below or exceeds this range, or if the humidity is too low, your pothos may develop yellow leaves or exhibit other signs of stress.

In conclusion, if your pothos leaves are turning yellow, it’s important to assess elements such as watering, light, nutrients, temperature, and humidity. By identifying the underlying issues and making necessary adjustments, you can restore your pothos plant to a healthy state and enjoy its lush, green leaves once again.

4 Reasons Why Your Pothos Leaves Are Turning Yellow

  • Fluoride in the Water:High levels of fluoride in the water can lead to yellowing leaves. The improper fluoride level can damage the pothos plant and cause the leaves to turn yellow. To avoid this, use filtered or distilled water for watering your pothos.
  • Improper Lighting: Pothos plants require bright, indirect light to thrive. If your pothos is already placed in a window and the leaves are fading or turning yellow, it may be receiving too much direct sunlight. Move the plant slightly away from the window or use a sheer curtain to filter the light.
  • Overwatering: Overwatering is another common issue that can lead to yellow leaves. Pothos plants don’t like to sit in water. Let the top inch of soil dry out before watering again. Always ensure proper drainage to avoid standing water that can create an imbalance in the root system and nutrient uptake.
  • Nutrient Deficiency: Pothos plants often require regular feeding to keep their leaves green and healthy. If the plant is not getting enough nutrients, the leaves may start turning yellow. To solve this issue, follow a proper fertilizing schedule and supplement the soil with a balanced fertilizer that contains nitrogen, phosphorus, and potassium.

Remember, identifying and addressing the underlying cause of yellowing pothos leaves is crucial to bringing your plant back to a healthy state. Be sure to assess all these factors and make necessary adjustments to ensure your pothos stays green and vibrant.

It’s not getting enough light

If your pothos leaves are turning yellow, it could be because the plant is not getting enough light. Pothos plants thrive in bright, indirect light, so if they are kept in a location with insufficient lighting, it can cause their leaves to turn yellow.

This is because pothos plants have a natural tendency to grow towards a light source. If the current lighting conditions are not meeting their needs, the plant may start to show signs of stress by yellowing leaves.

To rule out insufficient lighting as the cause of yellowing leaves, evaluate the lighting situation. Make sure the plant is placed near a window or another source of bright, indirect light. If the pothos plant is too far from a light source, consider moving it closer to a window or providing supplemental artificial lighting.

It’s important to note that while pothos plants prefer bright, indirect light, they do not do well in direct sunlight. Direct sunlight can burn the leaves, causing them to turn yellow and even curl.

If you’ve already ensured that your pothos is getting enough light, but it still has yellow leaves, it is crucial to examine other potential issues as well.

What it looks like

If you notice that the leaves of your indoor Pothos plant are turning yellow, it is important to understand what this discoloration looks like and what it could mean for the health of your plant.

The yellowing of Pothos leaves can stop at certain points or continue until the whole leaf turns completely yellow. In some cases, the yellowing may be accompanied by other issues such as brown or black spots below the yellowing areas. These issues can indicate various causes that need to be addressed to prevent further harm to your plant.

One possible cause for yellowing leaves is improper exposure to sunlight. Pothos plants are native to tropical regions and are used to receiving bright, indirect sunlight. If they’re exposed to direct sunlight, the leaves can show signs of stress and begin to turn yellow.

Another cause could be overwatering or underwatering. If the Pothos plant is not receiving enough water or if it is being watered too frequently, the leaves may start to droop and turn yellow. On the other hand, overwatering can lead to root rot and cause the leaves to turn yellow as well.

Gnats can also be a concern. These small flying insects are often attracted to moisture and can infest the soil of your Pothos plant. If you notice gnats flying around your plant or near the soil surface, it could indicate an infestation that needs to be dealt with.

Pale yellow leaves with irregular spots can be a sign of nutrient deficiencies. Pothos plants are relatively low-maintenance, but they do require proper nutrients to grow well. Fertilizing a few times a year can help provide the necessary nutrients for your plant.

As the Pothos plant ages, it is natural for the older leaves to turn yellow and drop off while new growth continues. However, if the entire plant is turning yellow and the new leaflets are also affected, there may be an underlying issue that needs to be addressed.

If you’re concerned about the yellowing leaves on your Pothos plant, don’t worry! There are easy solutions to these common problems. By adjusting the light exposure, proper watering, dealing with pests, and providing the right nutrients, you can help your Pothos plant regain its health and vibrant green color.

What to do about it

If your pothos leaves are already turning yellow, it’s important to address the issues causing the discoloration. Here are some steps you can take:

  1. Check for overwatering: Yellow leaves are usually a sign of overwatering. Make sure you’re not watering your pothos too frequently or providing too much water each time. Allow the soil to dry out between waterings.
  2. Investigate lighting conditions: Pothos prefer bright, indirect light. If your plant is not getting enough natural light or is exposed to direct sunlight, it can cause the leaves to turn yellow. Move your plant to a spot closer to a window or provide it with additional artificial lighting.
  3. Assess nutrient levels: Nutrient deficiencies can also lead to yellowing leaves. Pothos are relatively low-maintenance plants, but they still require some essential nutrients to thrive. Consider using a balanced fertilizer or adjusting the amount and frequency of your fertilization routine.
  4. Check for pests: Pests like spider mites, mealybugs, and aphids can cause yellowing leaves. Inspect your plant’s foliage carefully for signs of these critters. If pests are present, take appropriate measures to eliminate them.
  5. Examine the roots: Root rot or insufficient root growth can also be the reason behind yellowing leaves. Gently remove the plant from its pot and inspect the roots. If they are brown, mushy, or smell foul, remove the affected roots and repot the plant in fresh, well-draining soil.

Remember, it’s natural for pothos to shed older leaves from the bottom, so if only a few leaves are turning yellow, it may simply be part of the plant’s growth cycle. However, if the yellowing is widespread and accompanied by other irregular signs like drooping leaves or irregular growth, it’s better to investigate the cause and take appropriate action to restore your pothos to its normal, healthy state.

The key takeaway is to provide your pothos with appropriate lighting, water it properly, and ensure it receives necessary nutrients. By following these guidelines, you can prevent your pothos leaves from turning yellow and create a better environment for them to grow and thrive.

It’s getting too much water

A common cause of yellowing leaves in indoor plants is overwatering. Pothos plants, like many indoor plants, require a balance of water to thrive. When they receive too much water, the aging leaflets may turn yellow and eventually become completely brown. It’s important to let the soil dry out in between waterings to ensure that the plants are not being overwatered.

How can you tell if your Pothos plant is getting too much water? One way is to stick your finger into the soil. If it feels wet or damp, it’s a good indication that the plant has been watered too much. Another sign is if the leaves start to droop or feel soft and squishy to the touch. Overwatered leaves may also develop brown spots or look translucent.

So how often should you water your Pothos plant? It’s best to water it only when the top inch or so of the soil feels dry to the touch. Depending on the environment and conditions, this may be every 1-2 weeks. Remember, it’s better to underwater than to overwater. Pothos plants can tolerate short periods of drought, but they won’t thrive if they’re constantly waterlogged.

If you suspect that overwatering is the cause of your yellowed leaves, there are a few steps you can take to treat the issue. First, stop watering the plant until the soil has dried out. This will help create a balance and prevent further waterings from causing more damage. Additionally, repotting the plant into fresh, well-draining soil can also help improve drainage and prevent overwatering in the future.

It’s important to note that overwatering is not the only reason why your Pothos leaves might turn yellow. There can be other factors, such as nutrient deficiencies, pests like fungus gnats, or even an imbalance in the water’s fluoride content. If you’ve ruled out overwatering as the cause and your plant still looks yellowed or unhealthy, it may be a good idea to supplement with a balanced fertilizer or seek advice from a plant expert to determine the exact cause.

The takeaway is to pay attention to your Pothos plant’s water requirements and ensure that it’s not getting too much water. Keeping a consistent watering schedule, allowing the soil to dry out between waterings, and providing the right amount of nutrients will help your Pothos plants stay healthy and vibrant.

✿ Read More About Foliage Plants.

Dr Heidi Parkes

By Dr Heidi Parkes

Senior Information Extension Officer QLD Dept of Agriculture & Fisheries.