In this article, we’ll take a look at the reasons why pothos leaves go yellow and how to treat these issues to restore your plant to good health.
Scindapsus aureus, also known as pothos, devil’s ivy and golden pothos is a pretty, tropical plant with heart-shaped leaves. It’s easy to grow indoors and to propagate pothos, making it a favorite houseplant across the USA, especially for beginners.
As unfussy and low maintenance as this plant is, if you see pothos yellow leaves start to appear, then you’re right to be concerned – and you’ve come to the right place!
Fungal Diseases that Rots Pothos Roots
Fungal diseases can attack your pothos, turning the leaves yellow. The most common of these is Pythium root.
The fungus lives in poorly-drained, soggy soil, and will attack the roots of the plant. This prevents the plant from getting the nutrients it needs, causing the leaves to go yellow and die.
How Do You Fix Root Rot in Pothos?
The best way to fix root rot in pothos plants is to change the environment of the plant. These plants like soil that drains very well and only want just enough water to keep the soil moist.
Make sure the plant is positioned where it gets good, bright light for about 6 hours a day (indirect, not direct sunlight) and water it sparingly – once a week should be enough, and only if the soil is dry to the touch.If this is a new issue for a pothos you have had for many years, it may need to be repotted. If the root ball has gotten so big that it’s crowding the pot, then it could be preventing the soil from draining.
Get a pot that is a couple of inches bigger than the one you have, and repot using a potting mix or well-drained soil from your garden center. There’s a lot of great information about positioning your pothos, fertilizing it and repotting it here.
How Do You Save Overwatered Pothos?
If your pothos has been overwatered, you can still save it. Because this issue kills the roots, the earlier you act, the better your plant’s chance of survival.
- Start by taking your pothos out of the pot and gently freeing it of the wet soil, being careful not to damage the root ball.
- Throw this wet soil away and replace with dry potting mix. Cut away any dead or rotting roots – these will appear soggy and brown, while the healthy roots will still feel firm.
- Repot your pothos and position it out of direct sunlight in a room that is warm but not hot, so you don’t stress the plant.
- Water it very sparingly to keep the soil lightly moist, as it is easy for the root rot to reoccur.
Should You Mist Pothos?
Misting works well for many plants, but isn’t recommended for pothos. These plants are pretty drought-resistant, and it is very easy to overwater them, resulting in root rot that can kill your plant.
Rather than misting it, simply water the soil sparingly about once a week. Test the soil with your finger – if the first 1 inch is dry, you can water the soil.
Pothos is Getting Too Much Sunlight
Although Pothos plants are tropical, they don’t like direct sunlight. This is far too harsh for the plant, and can be the reason for pothos yellow leaves.
Why are the Tips of My Pothos Leaves Turning Brown?
This is definitely the result of too much sun – the leaves have gotten burned. This means that the location of your plant needs to be changed.
- Choose a place in a room that gets lots of natural sunlight (east or south facing) but keep the plant away from the sunshine itself.
- Either move it away from the window or use a sheer curtain to diffuse the sunlight.
- Remember, the sun moves into very different positions through the different seasons, so one position in winter may not be the right position in summer.
Too Much or Not Enough Fertilizer
If you over or under-fertilize your plant, you can end up with pothos yellow leaves. Luckily, these low-maintenance plants are not heavy feeders, so they don’t require much fertilizer. However, they still need some nutrients in order to grow.
We recommend using a liquid or granular 20-20-20 fertilizer on a bi-monthly basis.
If you have over-fertilized your pothos, flush it out thoroughly with water to drench the soil and wash out the excess nutrients. Leave it for about a month before starting the recommended fertilizer dose.
Are Coffee Grounds Good for Pothos?
Coffee grounds are great for pothos plants, supplying these plants with the right level of nutrients they need to grow healthy leaves and roots.
You can tip leftover coffee (plain black coffee) into the plant as its weekly watering, and even dump old grounds into the container.
Just be careful not to do this too often to avoid over-feeding it, or to bury the stem of the plant.
A Spider Mite Infestation
These plants are pretty resilient to pests, but they aren’t totally immune! Spider mites may attack your pothos and, as they feed off the sap in the plant, the leaves can turn yellow and die.
You can identify an infestation by looking closely at the plant. The mites look like tiny white spiders and leave a soft webbing on the plant’s leaves and stems.
This pest is very invasive and can quickly spread to other indoor plants, so be sure to check all your different plants and move infected ones outdoors or to a separate room.
There are a number of different ways to get rid of spider mites:
- Use an insecticide spray
- Use an organic insecticidal soap
- Use a spray-on mix of 1 teaspoon of liquid dish soap to 1 gallon of water
Spray your pothos immediately, ensuring you cover the underneath of the leaves as well as the surface.
The mites should reduce immediately, but keep spraying once a week for a month. This ensures that any new mites hatching from eggs on your plant are also killed.
Mealybug Infestation in Pothos
Another pest that may attack your pothos and turn it’s leaves yellow are mealybugs. The females look like white, fuzzy insects – a bit like small cotton balls – while the males have tiny wings. Like the spider mites, they feed on the plant’s sap and can eventually kill the plant. There are a few ways to get rid of these pests, including:
- Washing them off the leaves with water (do this over a drain, so the bugs don’t get into your garden)
- Use an insecticidal soap
- Wipe them with neem oil
- Use a spray-on mix of 1 teaspoon of liquid dish soap to 1 gallon of water
As with spider mite infestations, you should quarantine the affected plant until you are sure all the bugs are gone.
Use your chosen solution as instructed by the manufacturer, repeating use each week for a month in order to ensure the plant is completely free of mealybugs.
Frequently Asked Questions About Yellowing Pothos Leaves
Should I Cut Yellow Leaves Off Pothos?
The best way to treat Pothos yellow leaves is to cut them off the plant using a pair of sterilized scissors.
You can disinfect the scissors with a solution of 9 parts water to one part bleach. Sterilize the scissors after you have finished cutting yellow leaves off your plant to prevent spreading bacteria to other plants.
Can Yellow Pothos Leaves Turn Green Again?
Unfortunately, once the leaves on your pothos turn yellow, it is unlikely that they will turn green again.
The best thing to do is to remove the yellow leaves with a sterilized pair of scissors to help promote new, healthy growth.
How Do You Revive a Pothos from Death?
Pothos are pretty tough plants, so there is a good chance you can revive your dying pothos.
First, determine why your pothos is dying – are you over-watering it? Has it got a pest infestation?
Once you know what is harming your plant, you can stake steps to correct the issue, as outlined above.
If you are overwatering it, you will have to remove dead and rotting roots and repot your pothos. If it has a pest infestation, you will need to quarantine your plant and use an insecticide.
We have outlined all the most common reasons for a pothos to turn yellow and die, as well as how to fix these issues above.
What Does it Mean When Pothos Leaves Curl?
The leaves of your pothos may start to curl as an early warning sign before they turn yellow and die.
- If your plant is under-watered, the leaves will start to curl as they dry in an attempt to preserve moisture.
- If the leaf tips begin to curl downwards, it means you are watering your pothos too much.
- Pothos leaves can start to curl if the room the plant is in gets too hot. They like warmth but can struggle on very hot days.
- If the leaves are curling towards the light, it means that it’s not getting enough sunshine. Move it a little closer to the window, increasing the light it gets to about 6 hours a day, but avoiding direct sunshine.
Now You Know What Causes Pothos Yellow Leaves and How to Fix It!
Although pothos plants are low maintenance, they can still get yellow leaves.
If you want to grow more pothos, you can learn how to propagate pothos here.
With the information in this guide on how to water your pothos, how to fertilize it correctly, where to place it to ensure the right amount of sunlight, and how to treat spider mite and mealybug infestations.
By following these one or all of these steps you can get rid of pothos yellow leaves, prevent yellowing of the leaves and enjoy a healthy, beautiful plant!