Pothos Leaves Turning Brown – 10 Reasons & Solutions

Pothos plants are a favorite among plant lovers because of their lush, green foliage and low maintenance requirements. However, even the most diligent plant parents can encounter issues with their pothos. One of the most common problems that pothos owners face is the browning of leaves. Browning leaves can be a sign of a variety of issues, ranging from over-watering to pest infestations. The good news is that with a little bit of knowledge and effort, you can easily fix the issue and get your pothos back to its vibrant, healthy self. In this post, we will cover the ten most common causes of browning leaves in pothos plants and provide you with easy fixes to get your plant back to its former glory.


1. Introduction to the problem: Why are your pothos leaves turning brown?


If you’re a plant lover, you may have encountered the frustrating issue of your pothos leaves turning brown. Pothos plants, with their vibrant green foliage and trailing vines, are a popular choice for indoor gardening enthusiasts. However, when those once luscious leaves start turning brown, it can be concerning and leave you wondering what went wrong.

There are several common causes for browning leaves in pothos plants, and understanding these factors can help you identify the issue and take appropriate action. One key factor is watering. Overwatering or underwatering can both lead to brown leaves. Too much water can cause root rot, while insufficient hydration can result in dry and crispy leaves.

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Another possible cause is improper lighting. Pothos plants thrive in bright, indirect light. If they are exposed to too much direct sunlight or kept in excessively dark areas, their leaves can become discolored and start turning brown.

Nutrient deficiencies or excesses can also contribute to leaf browning. Pothos plants require balanced and adequate fertilizer to maintain their health. Insufficient nutrients can lead to stressed plants and brown leaves, while overfertilizing can cause nutrient burn and leaf discoloration.

Insects and pests can also be culprits behind browning pothos leaves. Common pests like spider mites, mealybugs, and aphids can damage the leaves, causing them to turn brown and wither.

Lastly, temperature and humidity can impact the health of your pothos plant. Extreme temperatures, drafts, or dry air can stress the plant, leading to brown leaves.

Now that we’ve covered some potential causes, let’s delve into each one in more detail and explore the easy fixes that can help restore your pothos plant to its vibrant, green glory.

Pothos Leaves Turning Brown - 10 Reasons & Solutions

2. Overwatering: The most common cause of brown leaves and how to fix it.


Overwatering is a common mistake that many plant owners make, and it can lead to unsightly brown leaves on your beloved pothos plant. When we care for our plants, we often have the best intentions in mind and think that more water means better hydration. However, this is not always the case.

Overwatering can cause the roots of the pothos plant to become waterlogged, leading to a lack of oxygen and nutrient absorption. As a result, the leaves may start to turn brown, indicating that the plant is suffering.

To fix this issue, it’s essential to adjust your watering routine. First, ensure that your pothos is placed in a well-draining pot with sufficient drainage holes at the bottom. This will allow excess water to escape and prevent water stagnation.

Next, check the moisture level of the soil before watering. Stick your finger about an inch deep into the soil and if it feels dry, it’s time to water your plant. If it’s still moist, hold off on watering for a few more days. This will help prevent overwatering and give the roots a chance to breathe.

In addition, consider the frequency of your watering. Pothos plants prefer slightly dry conditions between waterings. It’s better to underwater than to overwater, as the plant can recover from slight drought stress more easily.

If you’ve already noticed brown leaves due to overwatering, don’t panic. Trim off the affected leaves with clean, sterilized scissors to promote new growth. Adjust your watering routine as mentioned earlier and ensure that you provide proper care for your pothos, including adequate sunlight and appropriate fertilization.

By addressing the issue of overwatering and implementing these easy fixes, you can help your pothos thrive and prevent further browning of leaves. Remember, a little bit of care and attention can go a long way in maintaining the health and beauty of your indoor plants.


3. Underwatering: How lack of water can lead to browning leaves and how to address it.


Underwatering is one of the most common causes of browning leaves in pothos plants. These resilient houseplants can tolerate some neglect, but they do need a consistent supply of water to thrive. When a pothos plant is not receiving enough water, it can become stressed and its leaves may start to turn brown.

The lack of water affects the plant’s ability to carry out essential functions like photosynthesis and nutrient absorption. As a result, the leaves may dry out, curl, and eventually turn brown. Additionally, underwatering can lead to a buildup of salts and minerals in the soil, further hindering the plant’s ability to take up water and nutrients.

To address underwatering and prevent further browning of leaves, it’s crucial to establish a regular watering routine for your pothos plant. Check the moisture level of the soil by inserting your finger about an inch deep into the potting mix. If it feels dry at this depth, it’s time to water.

When watering, ensure that water thoroughly saturates the soil, allowing excess water to drain away. However, avoid letting the plant sit in standing water, as this can lead to root rot. Pothos plants prefer slightly moist soil, so it’s important to strike a balance between underwatering and overwatering.

Consider using a well-draining potting mix that allows excess water to escape easily. This will prevent water from pooling around the roots and causing damage. Additionally, placing the pothos plant in a pot with drainage holes can help prevent waterlogged soil.

If you’ve been underwatering your pothos plant for an extended period, it may benefit from a revitalizing measure like a thorough soak. Fill a sink or basin with water and allow the pot to sit in it for about 10-15 minutes, allowing the roots to absorb moisture. Afterward, allow excess water to drain away before returning the plant to its usual spot.

By addressing the issue of underwatering and ensuring your pothos plant receives adequate moisture, you can help prevent further browning of leaves and promote healthier growth. Remember to monitor the plant’s watering needs, adjust as necessary, and provide consistent care to keep your pothos thriving.


4. Light issues: Understanding the role of light in pothos health and how improper lighting can cause browning.


Light is a crucial factor in maintaining the health and vibrancy of pothos plants. Understanding the role of light and how it can affect the leaves is essential for addressing the issue of browning. Improper lighting conditions can lead to stress and ultimately result in the browning of pothos leaves.

One common cause of browning leaves is inadequate light. Pothos plants thrive in moderate to bright indirect light, but they can also tolerate lower light conditions. However, when exposed to too much direct sunlight, the leaves can burn and turn brown. On the other hand, insufficient light can lead to weak growth and pale leaves.

To address light-related issues, it is important to assess the current lighting conditions for your pothos plant. If it is placed in direct sunlight, consider moving it to a spot with filtered or indirect light. This can be achieved by placing the plant a few feet away from a window or using sheer curtains to diffuse the light. Similarly, if your pothos is in a dimly lit area, consider relocating it to a brighter spot or using artificial grow lights to supplement the light.

Additionally, it is crucial to strike a balance between light and darkness for your pothos plant. Pothos need a period of darkness to rest and rejuvenate. Leaving the plant in constant bright light can disrupt its natural growth cycle and lead to stress.

Regularly monitor the leaves of your pothos for signs of browning, especially the ones exposed to direct light. If you notice any browning or yellowing, adjust the lighting conditions accordingly. By providing the right amount and quality of light, you can ensure the optimal health and appearance of your pothos plant.


5. Temperature and humidity: The impact of temperature and humidity on pothos leaves and how to create an optimal environment.


Temperature and humidity play a significant role in the health and appearance of pothos leaves. These factors can greatly impact the plant’s ability to thrive and may contribute to the browning of leaves. Understanding the optimal temperature and humidity requirements for your pothos can help you create a favorable environment for its growth.

Pothos plants prefer temperatures that range between 65°F to 85°F (18°C to 29°C). Extreme temperature fluctuations, especially cold drafts or sudden drops in temperature, can stress the plant and lead to brown leaves. It is essential to keep your pothos away from drafts, such as air conditioning vents or open windows during colder months.

In terms of humidity, pothos thrives in moderate to high levels. Ideally, the relative humidity should be around 40% to 60%. Dry air can cause the leaves to dry out and turn brown. To increase humidity, you can group your pothos together with other plants, place a tray of water near the plant, or use a humidifier in the room.

Another crucial factor to consider is the proximity to heat sources. Keep your pothos away from radiators, heaters, or direct sunlight, as excessive heat can lead to leaf browning. It is best to place the plant in a location where it receives bright, indirect light.

If you notice that your pothos leaves are turning brown due to temperature or humidity issues, there are simple fixes you can implement. Adjusting the room temperature, using a humidifier, or misting the leaves regularly can help improve the environment for your pothos. Additionally, ensuring proper airflow and avoiding extreme temperature variations will contribute to the overall health of your pothos plant.

By creating an optimal temperature and humidity environment for your pothos, you can prevent leaf browning and provide the conditions necessary for its vibrant growth. Remember to monitor these factors regularly and make adjustments as needed to keep your pothos thriving and beautiful.


6. Nutrient deficiencies: Identifying nutrient deficiencies that can cause brown leaves and how to correct them.


Nutrient deficiencies can often be the culprit behind brown leaves on your pothos plant. It’s important to identify these deficiencies in order to provide the necessary nutrients and restore the health of your plant.

One common nutrient deficiency that leads to brown leaves is a lack of nitrogen. Nitrogen is essential for leaf growth and development. When your pothos plant lacks nitrogen, the leaves may turn brown and start to wither. To correct this deficiency, you can use a nitrogen-rich fertilizer specifically formulated for houseplants. Follow the instructions on the fertilizer packaging to ensure you’re providing the right amount of nitrogen for your pothos.

Another nutrient deficiency that can cause brown leaves is a lack of iron. Iron is crucial for the production of chlorophyll, which gives leaves their green color. Without sufficient iron, the leaves may turn brown and appear dull. You can address this deficiency by using iron chelate or iron sulfate, which are readily available at garden centers. Dilute the recommended amount in water and apply it to the soil around the base of your pothos plant.

Magnesium deficiency is also a common cause of brown leaves in pothos plants. Magnesium is essential for photosynthesis and overall plant health. Without enough magnesium, the leaves may start to yellow and eventually turn brown. You can rectify this deficiency by applying magnesium sulfate (Epsom salt) to the soil. Dissolve a tablespoon of Epsom salt in a gallon of water and use it to water your pothos plant.

It’s important to note that nutrient deficiencies can often be a result of improper watering or poor soil quality. Make sure you’re watering your pothos plant appropriately, allowing the soil to slightly dry out between waterings. Additionally, using a well-draining potting mix enriched with organic matter can help provide a healthy growing environment for your pothos.

By identifying and addressing nutrient deficiencies, you can prevent further browning of the leaves and promote the overall vitality of your pothos plant. Regularly monitoring the nutrient levels and adjusting your care routine accordingly will help keep your pothos thriving and free from brown leaves.


7. Pest infestation: Recognizing common pests that attack pothos and how to eradicate them to prevent leaf browning.


Pothos plants are known for their beautiful, vibrant green leaves that can instantly brighten up any space. However, if you start noticing that the leaves are turning brown, it could be a sign of a pest infestation. Common pests that attack pothos include mealybugs, spider mites, and aphids.

Mealybugs are small, white insects that feed on the sap of the plant. They can be identified by their cotton-like appearance and sticky residue they leave behind. Spider mites, on the other hand, are tiny arachnids that create webs on the leaves and cause them to turn yellow and then brown. Aphids are small, soft-bodied insects that suck the sap from the leaves, causing them to wilt and eventually turn brown.

To eradicate these pests and prevent further leaf browning, it is important to take immediate action. One effective method is to use a gentle insecticidal soap or neem oil spray. These natural remedies will suffocate and kill the pests without harming the plant.

When applying the treatment, make sure to cover both the upper and lower surfaces of the leaves, as well as the stems. It is also important to repeat the treatment every few days for a couple of weeks to ensure that all pests and their eggs are eliminated.

Additionally, it is advisable to isolate the infested pothos plant from other plants to prevent the pests from spreading. Regularly inspecting your plants for any signs of pest infestation and taking prompt action will help keep your pothos healthy and prevent further leaf browning.


8. Root problems: Exploring root-related issues that can lead to brown leaves and how to address them.


Root problems can often be the underlying cause of pothos leaves turning brown. Healthy roots are essential for the overall well-being of your plant, as they provide water and nutrients to the leaves. When root issues arise, it can disrupt this vital flow, resulting in brown and wilted foliage. Let’s explore some common root-related problems and simple fixes to revive your pothos plant.

1. Overwatering: Excessive watering can lead to root rot, causing the roots to become mushy and unable to absorb nutrients properly. To address this, ensure your pothos is potted in well-draining soil and only water when the top inch of soil feels dry.

2. Underwatering: On the other hand, underwatering can cause the roots to dry out, leading to brown and crispy leaves. Regularly check the moisture level of the soil and water your pothos thoroughly whenever it becomes dry.

3. Improper drainage: If your pothos is in a container without drainage holes, excess water can accumulate at the bottom, suffocating the roots. Transplant your pothos into a pot with drainage holes to facilitate proper water drainage.

4. Root-bound plant: Pothos plants are known for their vigorous growth, and if left in the same container for too long, their roots can become tightly bound. Gently loosen the roots and repot your pothos in a slightly larger container to promote healthy root growth.

5. Lack of nutrients: Insufficient nutrients can weaken the roots, making them more prone to issues. Fertilize your pothos regularly with a balanced houseplant fertilizer to ensure it receives the necessary nutrients for optimal root health.

6. Pest infestation: Certain pests, like root mealybugs or fungus gnats, can invade the roots and cause damage. Treat the infestation promptly using organic or chemical methods to eliminate these pests and protect your pothos’ roots.

By addressing these root-related problems and providing the necessary care, you can revive your pothos plant and prevent further browning of the leaves. Remember to monitor the soil moisture, provide proper drainage, and ensure your pothos receives adequate nutrients to promote healthy root growth and vibrant green foliage.


9. Pruning and maintenance: The importance of regular pruning and care to maintain healthy pothos leaves.


Regular pruning and maintenance are crucial for maintaining healthy pothos leaves. These beautiful plants can become unruly if left unattended, leading to issues such as brown leaves. Pruning helps to promote healthy growth, remove dead or damaged foliage, and prevent overcrowding.

One of the main reasons why pothos leaves may turn brown is overgrowth. When the plant becomes too dense, sunlight cannot penetrate through the foliage, causing lower leaves to lose their vibrant green color. Pruning allows you to thin out the plant, allowing for better air circulation and light penetration.

Another important aspect of maintenance is removing any dead or yellowing leaves promptly. These leaves not only detract from the overall appearance of the plant but can also harbor pests or diseases. Regularly inspect your pothos for any signs of discoloration or damage, and trim off any affected leaves to keep the plant healthy.

Pruning also helps to shape the pothos and encourage bushier growth. By selectively trimming back the stems, you can promote branching and create a fuller, more attractive plant. This can be particularly beneficial if you want to propagate your pothos or create a more compact appearance.

When pruning your pothos, make sure to use clean and sharp tools to prevent any unnecessary damage. It’s best to trim just above a leaf node or where the stem meets another stem to encourage new growth in that area. Additionally, consider rotating your pothos periodically to ensure balanced growth and prevent the plant from leaning towards a light source.

In addition to pruning, proper care is essential for maintaining healthy pothos leaves. This includes providing adequate water, ensuring proper drainage, and providing a suitable environment with indirect sunlight. By combining regular pruning with proper care, you can enjoy lush and vibrant pothos leaves that will enhance the beauty of your indoor space.


10. Preventive measures: Proactive steps to prevent future leaf browning and maintain vibrant, green foliage in your pothos plant.


Taking preventive measures is essential to ensure the long-term health and vibrancy of your pothos plant. By being proactive and addressing potential issues before they escalate, you can maintain lush, green foliage and prevent further leaf browning. Here are some easy fixes and preventive steps you can take:

1. Adjust watering routine: Overwatering or underwatering can stress your pothos plant and lead to leaf browning. Ensure that you water your plant appropriately, allowing the soil to slightly dry out between waterings. Use your finger to check the moisture level and adjust accordingly.

2. Provide proper drainage: Ensure your pothos plant has proper drainage to prevent water from sitting in the pot, which can lead to root rot and subsequent leaf browning. Choose a well-draining potting mix and ensure the pot has drainage holes.

3. Monitor lighting conditions: Pothos plants thrive in bright, indirect light. Insufficient or excessive light can cause stress and result in leaf browning. Adjust the placement of your plant to provide it with the ideal lighting conditions it needs.

4. Maintain consistent temperature and humidity: Pothos plants prefer temperatures between 65-85°F (18-29°C) and moderate humidity levels. Avoid exposing your plant to extreme temperature fluctuations or low humidity, as it can lead to leaf browning. Use a humidifier or pebble tray to increase humidity if needed.

5. Avoid drafts and cold air: Pothos plants are sensitive to cold drafts and chilly air. Keep them away from windows, doors, or any areas with constant drafts to prevent stress and leaf browning.

6. Clean the leaves: Dust and debris can accumulate on the leaves, hindering their ability to photosynthesize effectively. Periodically wipe the leaves with a damp cloth or gently mist them to keep them clean and free from dust.

7. Prune damaged leaves: If you notice any brown or yellowing leaves, promptly remove them to redirect the plant’s energy towards healthy foliage growth.

8. Fertilize regularly: Provide your pothos plant with balanced houseplant fertilizer according to the instructions on the packaging. Regular fertilization provides essential nutrients, promoting healthy leaf growth and preventing deficiencies that can lead to browning.

9. Monitor pests: Common pests like spider mites or mealybugs can attack pothos plants, causing damage and leaf browning. Regularly inspect your plant for any signs of pests and take appropriate measures, such as using organic insecticidal soap, to keep them at bay.

10. Rotate the plant: To ensure even growth and prevent one side from receiving more light than the other, periodically rotate your pothos plant. This will encourage balanced foliage growth and minimize the risk of leaf browning.

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Amelia Clark

I'm Amelia Clark , a seasoned florist and gardening specialist with more than 15 years of practical expertise. Following the completion of my formal education, I dedicated myself to a flourishing career in floristry, acquiring extensive understanding of diverse flower species and their ideal cultivation requirements. Additionally, I possess exceptional skills as a writer and public speaker, having successfully published numerous works and delivered engaging presentations at various local garden clubs and conferences. Check our Social media Profiles: Facebook Page, LinkedIn, Pinterest, Youtube, Instagram Tumblr

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