Pothos Leaves Turning Yellow? Here are the Reasons and Cures!

Pothos leaves turning yellow can be an indicator of several underlying issues to the plant. This article lists all these issues as well as their solutions

So you have gotten started with keeping houseplants. It was our first step towards adding greenery to your home.

But now its green is turning yellow. The leaves are no longer waxy and dark green as they should have been to indicate the plant’s health.

Rather, the foliage has started turning yellow.

What can you do now? You are worried about the pothos leaves turning yellow. You want to know the reasons and some cures if you are lucky.
After all, you don’t want to lose the plant which accompanied you for this long.

If you are wondering, ‘why are my pothos leaves turning yellow’, this article has all the answers. And you will get the cure with each of these reasons.

Old Leaves

Old leaves- Pothos leaves turning yellow
source: gardener’spath.com

One reason the causes golden pothos yellow leaves plant is old leaves. Note that this is the only reason on the whole list which doesn’t indicate any threat to your beloved plant.

Instead, it only shows that the leaves at the base of the stem have lived their full life and accumulated waste from the pothos.

Now, they are only a waste product for the plant and are ready to shed. You can choose to do something with these leaves or leave them as it is.

You can treat them by pruning them. This will create room for new leaves to grow.
The more advisable strategy is to let these leaves stay with the plant until they wilt and fall off without intervention.

Once the plant has shed them, they will soon be replaced with greener leaves.

But to decide that the yellowing has come from dead or older leaves, you need to check for other signs and causes of pothos leaves turning yellow.

Here are other causes of pothos yellow leaves all of which indicate problems with the plant’s health. Know that although you can treat the underlying cause of this appearance defect, you can never reverse the yellowing.

So, if you are wondering how to get rid of pothos yellow leaves, know that the only route is to prevent this color fading of other leaves of your plants.


Overwatering- Pothos leaves turning yellow
source: freepik.com

Excessive watering is the most common reason behind the yellow leaves of a pothos plant. When your plant is suffering from overwatering, it will show other signs in addition to just yellowing of leaves. First, they may start wilting also.

Secondly, the yellow leaves will be spread over the plant randomly. In the end, you will observe that these leaves have brown spots in them.

In fact, the latter sign shows that the plant has retained too much water in its roots for too long. This excessive water stops the roots from getting oxygen and other nutrition from the soils and hampers normal function.

Plus, when the roots are submerged in water, they start spreading toxins to other parts making them sick.

As a result, the damage to its health is paramount in case of excessive watering. Because of this reason, the decay caused by overwatering takes a huge toll on the plant’s health and takes lots of work for recovery prompting you to act fast.

There are two reasons which may keep pothos roots drowned in water for too long: either you have watered them excessively and before they needed watering, or their soil isn’t draining the water as it should.

The preventive measure is to only water pothos when the soil has dried out. The other preventive measure is to use a pot with larger draining holes.

But if the overwatering has starting damaging the health, you need more than just preventive measures. You need to drain the excess water.

Here is the detailed method for draining excess water.

  • Start with relocating the plant to a covered area. You don’t want it to be in direct sunlight when you are draining the pot.
  • Next, you have to remove the plant from the pot. Do it gently to not harm the plant.
  • Now you have to place the root ball at a few layers of newspaper so its excess water can be removed.
  • You have to dry out the soil by spreading it on a dry surface and leaving it there for some time.
  • Once both soil and roots are dried, you have to re-pot the plant.
  • Afterwards, ensure that you only water your plant when its soil is dried at least 2 inches from the surface.


Underwatering-Pothos leaves turning yellow
source: ohiotropics.com

If the yellowing of leaves is accompanied by other signs of lea decay, the reason behind these symptoms is usually lack of enough water in the soil. In turn, it’s understandable to point at the holder’s inability to water the plants at the right times.

The accompanying leaf decay signs include wilting, leaf curling, and yellowing or browning off leaves.

In the wake of underwatering, the pothos plant responds by preserving its energy and other resources such as nutrients. It does so by leaving some leaves out of the distribution of nutrients. These leaves then change colors or wilt.

Another method of preservation of resources is not distributing nutrients to whole leaves leaving the corners under-nourished and curved.

The only and simple cure for this problem is watering more often and adequately.

Usually, it’s enough for pothos if you water them once every week or every other week. But if you are even watering them every seven days and still notice the signs of draught, you should increase the frequency gradually to reach the optimal watering schedule.

Take note that pothos shouldn’t be watered before three days lapse after the last watering session. So, if you are living in dry areas, you should go with a once-every-three-day watering schedule.

One useful tip is to check if the topmost layer of the soil is dry before watering. Optimally, the top two inches of the soil should be dry while lower layers should be wet when you re-water the plant. You can check for dryness by dipping your finger in the soil.

If you think that your plant’s soil is taking longer than 2 weeks to dry, you may have used a medium that doesn’t drain easily. In that case, you can add perlite to the soil to enhance its drainage capacity.

You can also choose to cut the yellow leaves. But that’s not necessary as these leaves don’t carry disease. If you want, you can keep them to enhance the color scheme of your plant.

You should also try to avoid giving your plant cold water. Doing this can give a shock to your plant. Also, note that the plant is too vulnerable to changes in moisture conditions in its surroundings when it’s underwatered. So, don’t over-water it at this time.

Excessive Exposure to Sun

Excessive Exposure to Sun-Pothos leaves turning yellow
source: plantician.com

Pothos is not the kind of plant that loves direct sunlight. They thrive indoors where the sunlight is indirect. Their best light conditions are low light or moderate light.
When they are outdoors, they do well under trees. They love the shade.

In those instances where they are placed in direct sunlight, they lose moisture excessively. This lack of water leads to loss of their glow and green color in leaves.

Other symptoms that indicate overexposure to the sun include brown spots on leaves and wilting.

When the cause behind yellow leaves of pothos is overexposure to the sun, the only solution is to relocate the plant to a place with less light. Better yet, you should move it indoors.

If your pothos plant is already placed indoors, they can still experience this overexposure to the sun. The reason for this overexposure can be the place where you have kept them. The pothos can’t tolerate light that passes through the window.

In case, windows still make the best place for your pothos at your home – even with the amount of UV rays they let pass through them, you can still control the light invasion with the right curtains.

You can also choose to place the plant in a darker room and compensate for the decreased light with the help of an LED grow light.

Or if you still prefer them to be outdoors than indoors, bring them under the shade of trees.

Changes in Temperature

Changes in Temperature-Pothos leaves turning yellow
source: gardenforindoor.com

Pothos plants do well between 65 and 85°F. Also, these shelter-loving plans don’t respond well to sudden changes in heating around them.

Mostly, these plants manage to survive if the difference remains within 5°F of the healthy range of temperature. However, if the temperature varies more than this 5°F limit, know that the chances of survival of your Devil’s Ivy are low.

They also suffer in the presence of cold air or draught.

The imbalance in temperature may prompt the leaves to turn whitish-yellow.
You can prevent a drastic and sudden change in temperature by keeping the plant in a place with a constant temperature. Keep them away from the air conditioner and windows.

Root Rot

Root Rot-Pothos leaves turning yellow
source: flickr.com

Just like the reason behind cucumber leaves turning yellow can be diseases, pothos leaves yellowing may also indicate an underlying fungal attack.

Root rot can be an answer to your question, ‘why are my pothos leaves turning yellow?’. Root rot is a fungal disease that happens as an aftermath of excessive watering. There are two types of root rot: Pythium root rot and bacterial root rot.

The first of these two types have slightly different symptoms than the latter one. The prominent symptom of Pythium root rot only includes leaves turning yellow. On the other hand, bacterial root rot produces water spots on the underside of the leaves.

Also, in bacterial root rot, instead of the whole leaves turning yellow, only random yellow halos appear across them.

When the plant is suffering from root rot, mostly damage appears at its base. Overall, most parts of the plant will be affected in this case.

By looking at the spread of the damage, if you think that the cause is root rot, you should explore more by uprooting the plant. You have to be gentle in the uprooting.

Once you have uprooted the plant, you have to clean them using a brush. Once they are bare, you can check for their blackened ends. If you witness the roots black, know that your pothos roots are suffering from root rot.

Now you have two options. You can either choose to save the whole plant or, if the damage is too intense, you can consider propagating it.

How to Save the Plant

How to Save the Plant-Pothos Leaves Turning Yellow
Source: freepik.com

You can choose to save the plant if there is a considerable portion of healthy roots, leaves, and stems are left in the plant. In such case, you would use the following procedure:

Use a pruning knife to cut all the decaying parts. These parts include yellowing leaves, stems, and black roots. Your goal here is to let only healthy parts remain with the plants. If any sick part remains with the plant it can carry the disease to other parts.

The next step is to sprinkle some organic sulfur powder into the roots.
Now you have to leave the plant (without potting) in a shaded area. The area should be aerated and fresh.

Get a pot and fill it with fresh soil. You can use the same pot which hosted the plant before but it’s recommended to use a new plot.

After leaving your plant in open for an hour, re-pot it in the fresh soil.

How to Propagate the Plant

How to Propagate the Plant-Pothos Leaves Turning Yellow
source: youtube.com

Select a stem that has at least 4 to 5 healthy leaves. It should have a minimum length of 4 inches. A 6-inch long branch is even better.

Now using a sterile knife, cut the stem from its base. Make sure that you are only including the green part.

Remove its leaves from the base. You should leave only up to three healthy leaves at the top.

Now you have to put it in a water-filled jar in a shaded area. Expect it to start producing leaves in a month. Once its roots have started sprouting, you can pot it in fresh soil.
Instead of putting it in water, you can also put the cut stem in a pot with fresh soil.

Before potting the plant, add apple cedar vinegar to the soil to help the plant with rooting. After potting, place the plant in a shaded area.

Excessive Fertilization

Excessive Fertilization -Pothos Leaves Turning Yellow
source: gardenetc.com

Another reason for your pothos leaves turning yellow can be an imbalance in fertilization. Know that these plants don’t require frequent nutrients. You can fertilize them once every fortnight without worrying about their health.

In fact, over-fertilization is more dangerous for them than under-fertilization.

At the same time, the common fertilizer for most household plants doesn’t work for Devil’s ivy.

When you bring a pothos plant to your home, you should also get the right variation of fertilizer for them. Look out for 19-16-12 NPK for these plants as this variation offers the right balance of nitrogen, phosphorus, and potassium.

If you fertilize your plant more often than they need, expect yellowing leaves because these excess nutrients will block the water from reaching the roots and other parts of the plant.

In addition to yellowing leaves, burned edges of the leaves make another tell-tale sign of excessive fertilization.

]You can cure the over-fertilization problem by understanding your plant’s needs. In warmer seasons, pothos needs nutrients every fortnight or every month.

In winter, between October and April, fertilizing the plant every three months should suffice. You can also choose to suspend feeding in winter.

If the damage is apparent, you should suspend feeding the plant. In case of severe damage, you have to change the soil of the plant. This will allow the roots to take moisture and nutrients from a more balanced environment.

Imbalance in Nutrients

source: canva.com

You may also witness yellowing leaves in your plant if you are giving it the wrong fertilizer. A commonly used fertilizer for household plants would be lacking in nitrogen and will have an excess of other chemicals including potassium and phosphorus.

The yellowing pattern of the leaves will indicate the nutrient which is needed by your pothos.

If the yellowing starts at the tip of the leave and spreads across the leave gradually, the plant is lacking nitrogen. Another symptom of this lack is a decrease in the volume of leaves.

If the yellowing appears as random patches, you would like to add magnesium to the plant’s diet.

The deficiency of iron in these plants appears as yellowing of whole leaves except the leaf veins.

The cure to these symptoms is simple, you have to change the fertilizer and allow your plant some time to adjust to the new nutrients. Choose a fertilizer that has increased volume for the lacking nutrient.

Take Away

There can be a number of reasons that can result in pothos leaves turning yellow. Over-watering the plant makes the most common among these. Other reasons are under-watering, lack of right fertilizers, excess of feeding, root rot, and change in temperature in the plant’s environment.

Fortunately, in most cases, the plant can survive if we take proper remedial steps. But we ought to detect the problem early on to prevent it from causing irrecoverable damage to the plant.

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