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Why Are My Pothos Leaves Turning Brown? Explanation & Answers

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There’s nothing worse for a plant parent to see their beloved plant struggling. Of course, you would want to do everything in your power to ensure your plant stays healthy and thriving. Why is your Pothos suddenly turning Brown?

Why is my pothos turning brown? Well, the leaves can turn brown due to underwatering, overwatering, or too much sunlight. Diseases and too much fertilizer can also cause your Pothos to show brown spots and leaf tips. You should fix it before it becomes worse and let the soil dry out between waterings, and change the amount of light.

brown pothos leaves

Causes Of Pothos Leaves Turning Brown And Solutions

There are many different reasons why the leaves of your poor Pothos might turn brown in color.

Let’s list each of these reasons so you can assess the problem and take measures before it becomes life-threatening to your Pothos:

Watering Issues

Watering issues are one of the biggest reasons your Pothos might be turning Brown. Issues such as overwatering, underwatering or irregular watering, as well as inadequate water quality, can all be contributing factors to your Pothos leaves turning brown.

Overwatering Your Pothos

The first thing you should know about your Pothos is that they will thrive in warm and dry environments.

One of the leading causes for your Pothos’s leaves turning brown is due to overwatering. How much water you need to provide your Pothos with will vary greatly, depending on the size of our plant, the location in your home, as well as the overall environment.

Where a bigger pothos plant will need more water, a smaller pothos plant will need to be provided with less water. The general rule to follow when watering houseplants is to water until the soil is moist.

You will be able to tell when you have given enough water when the water runs through to the drainage holes located at the bottom of your pothos pot.

How To Fix It:

Luckily, this general rule applies to Pothos as well, although you will need to wait for the soil to dry out entirely before you can water it again. You can test the moisture of the soil by inserting your finger until about 1 inch into the soil.

If your finger feels damp, or if some wet soil sticks to your finger, then you will need to let the Pothos dry out before watering again. You can also choose to purchase a moisture meter to test the hydration levels of your pothos’ soil.

By allowing your Pothos to dry out between each watering session, you will be reducing the number of brown leaves on your Pothos!

If you have adjusted the watering and still have brown leaves, it is most likely because of something else.

Let’s take a look at some more watering reasons why your pothos leaves are browning.

Underwatering/Irregular Watering

While it is essential to allow your soil to dry out between watering, consistency is key! Take notes of the timeline you water your pothos plant and try your best to maintain a regular watering schedule. Pothos do not need much special care, as they are hardy plants.

However, by establishing and sticking to a watering schedule, you will reduce the chance of your leaves browning. If you water your Pothos using the correct amount of water on a schedule, it will keep your plant happy and healthy!

How To Fix It:

This means giving your pothos water until the water entirely runs through the drainage holes. It goes without saying that the exact watering timeline will depend on each plant, but if you water roughly once a week, it would be enough.

Always keep a close eye on your soil during the first few weeks, and if the soil is dry, water it immediately. Your plant will show you when it’s ready to be watered, and you can create a stable watering routine from there.

Water Quality

Generally, pothos plants aren’t fussy about the quality of their water. As Pothos is a type of houseplant that can take a bit of hardship, it makes it the ideal plant for a busy or beginner gardener.

Watering your Pothos with tap water should be alright. However, if you have tried some of the other solutions and it doesn’t mix the browning of leaves, you may want to consider the quality of your water.

Usually, tap water has salt, fluoride, as well as added minerals that can be damaging to your Pothos. While this may be a rare cause of your browning pothos leaves, it would be worth it to consider it as a cause.

How To Fix It:

If you are concerned that your tap water is causing the brown leaves on your Pothos, try switching to filtered water.

Room temperate filtered water would be ideal, as it won’t change the temperature of your Pothos too much.

Lack Of Humidity

Now, we will look more closely at how humidity can affect your pothos plant. It is essential to check the humidity in the area you have placed your Pothos.

Although Pothos can do well in some low humidity environments, they generally prefer places with higher humidity since they are native to more tropical climates.

Humidity levels are often one of the environmental factors that indoor gardeners tend to overlook when it comes to caring for their plants. Your Pothos will grow ad thrive to their fullest potential if you provide them with humidity levels closest to their natural environment.

Incorrect humidity will interfere with the transpiration levels of your Pothos. Water that contains loads of nutrients is absorbed through the roots of your Pothos, and then any excess water is released through tiny pores.

These small pores of your pothos plant are called stomata, and it is located on the underside of the leaves after your plant has absorbed the nutrients.

If your Pothos is located in an area that lacks humidity, it will go into a state of shock and won’t fully open its pores. As a result, transpiration will slow down, and the overall health of your Pothos will start to worsen.

Because a pothos is a reasonably strong plant, it won’t likely show any immediate signs of its health worsening, but its overall growth and performance will be slower. This is when you will notice the tips of your pothos’ leaves turning brown, which means the air is too dry.

Humidity is the amount of moisture that the air in a specific area can hold. The higher the temperature levels are, the more moisture there will be in the air. Unfortunately, it isn’t always as simple, because even if the environment is hot and dry, the humidity may still be low.

This is the case when it comes to desert regions. This is because there still needs to be a combination of both warmth and moisture for humidity to form. If you have a heater in your home and there is little to no moisture, the air will become dry, and the humidity levels will fall.

If there is moisture around, however, the warm air will be able to absorb it, and the humidity levels will rise. You need to try your best to maintain the moisture levels that will suit your Pothos best.

All this might sound vastly complicated, but if you ensure the ideal humidity levels, you will find your Pothos to be a much more healthy and handsome plant!

How To Fix It:

Let’s take a look at what you can do to fix any lack of humidity for your pothos plant:

Misting The Pothos Leaves

Misting is a way of raising humidity levels, and it has been around for years! Gardeners whose plants suffer from low humidity can simply spray the leaves with a fine water sprayer.

It would instantly affect their plants, effectively raising the humidity levels. Recent studies have also shown that the misting method is one of the most effective methods.

Pebble Tray

For the humidity levels to go up, there needs to be a moisture or water source from which the air can draw the humidity from. Although bowls of water and aquariums can do the job, you have an even easier option!

Using a plant saucer filled with pebbles and placing the plant on top will increase the humidity levels for your plant.

This will allow the process of evaporation to take place right in the vicinity of your Pothos!

Give Your Pothos A Shower

Pothos will make the ideal trailing plant for your shower. You can place your Pothos in a bright corner or a medium-lit corner.

Your Pothos will absorb any moisture from the air and will only need occasional water as a supplement. This will take care of any lack of humidity, as your shower has a daily source of moisture!

Move Your Pothos To The Bathroom

Generally, bathrooms are overall an excellent place for any houseplant, including your Pothos. Pothos plants will absolutely thrive on the high humidity levels.

The wet environment created by your bath, shower, or sinks means that there is almost always an area of your bathroom that is drying during the course of the day.

Get A Humidifier

Humidifiers are appliances that are specially designed to increase the ambient moisture levels in the air. They are readily available and sold over the internet, at several other shops, and at local garden centers.

Typically, humidifiers come with a thermostat that reads the temperature, along with a built-in hydrometer.

This will allow you to set them that they only turn on when the air falls below the needed humidity.

Additionally, humidifiers also come in a wide variety of prices, so you might want to do some research before making any purchases.

You will need to know the precise volume of the area you want to use it in, as well as the number of plants that will be in the area.

Sunburn Issues

Placing your Pothos in a window sill that gets direct sunlight can be a disaster. Too much sun exposure can cause your pothos leaves to turn brown, and they might even burn. Over time, too much direct sun exposure could kill your Pothos.

How To Fix It:

If you think that the reason for your Pothos’ leaves browning is because of sun exposure, keep a close eye on how much daily sun your Pothos gets. If you notice that this could be the problem, move your Pothos to a location with more shade, and use disinfected cutting shears or blades to remove all of the sunburned leaves.

After you have done this, be sure to monitor your Pothos to see if its normal lively green-colored leaves come back. Another sign that your Pothos is getting too much sun exposure is if the variegation quickly loses its contrast.

The more lightly colored parts of a variegated plant do not produce any chlorophyll when it is exposed to too much sun.

When Pothos are going through the stress of too much exposure to the sun, their lovely leaves will become washed out.

Pot Size

Another reason why your Pothos might be turning Brown could be because of the pot size. If you notice any of your Pothos’s roots growing from drainage holes, the lower leaves browning, including brown tips, your Pothos might be rootbound.

If your Pothos is rootbound, there will be other symptoms as well, such as slowed growth, leaves curling, drooping, or even falling and curling. Also, look out if your Pothos become leggy.

How To Fix It:

It would be ideal if you repotted your Pothos during the growing season to fix this problem.

Choose a new pot or container up to two to three inches wider or what is suitable for the root ball. Make sure you leave some space for further growth. If your Pothos is turning brown due to being rootbound and it’s not during the active growing season, wait until winter or early spring to repot your Pothos.

Pest Infestation

There are quite a few pests you need to be concerned about when it comes to your beloved pothos plant. If your Pothos has pests, it is the reason behind them turning brown in color.

Plant sap-sucking pests such as spider mites, scale insects, mealy bugs, and aphids will target your Pothos, especially if it is weak due to other issues. These harmful bugs will suck the juices right out of your Pothos, ultimately depriving them of their water and nutrients.

Some pests will even inject toxins into your Pothos. They may appear as flying, stationary, or moving dots or bumps. Some have waxy bodies. Besides the browning spots or areas, some pests can curl, mishap, ruffle, and even distort the leaves of your Pothos.

Other symptoms include the leaves drooping, falling, and overall stunted growth of your Pothos. When checking your Pothos for bugs, know each bug and what to look for:

Mealybugs, aphids, whiteflies, and scale insects – sooty mold and honeydew on your Pothos.

Whiteflies – small moth-like, winged bugs with soft bodies full of powder.

Scale insects – oval-shaped fat fluffy bugs that do not move.

Aphids – stationary dome-shaped bugs usually green, black, red, brown, grey, or yellow in color.

Spider mites – visible webbing on your plant.

If you have successfully established that your Pothos has pests, you need to isolate them from others.

How To Fix It:

Hose your Pothos to knock the pests off. In the case of mealy bugs, you will need to clean the leaves of your Pothos using cotton balls dipped in rubbing alcohol.

If you have a severe infestation and only realize it when the situation has worsened, you will need to take extra measures.

You can use neem oil, insecticidal soaps, as well as horticultural oil. All these insecticides are readily available and are crucial to the survival of your Pothos.

Nutrient Deficiency

Browning pothos leaves can also be an indication of nutrient deficiency. A pothos that isn’t getting enough essential nutrients, such as nitrogen, iron, phosphorus, and potassium, can also develop brown spotting.

The pattern of your plant’s browning can give you subtle hints at the type of mineral deficiency it has. For example, if your leaves are yellowing at their edges but are still green in the middle, your Pothos could have a magnesium deficiency.

If the leaf’s veins and stems still seem to be green but the rest of it has a brownish color, it could be an indication that your Pothos needs some zinc or iron.

If the bottom leaves of your Pothos are turning brown, it directly points to a nitrogen deficiency. And if the top leaves are turning brown, your Pothos needs some sulfur.

How To Fix It:

In the case where a nutrient deficiency is to blame, it would be a great time to provide your Pothos with some fertilizer.

Most plants will benefit greatly if you fertilize them a couple of times each year, preferably during the spring and summer months. Fertilizers that contain iron and magnesium would be ideal.

Transplant Shock

If you notice your Pothos turning Brown after recently repotting, transplanting, or even relocating, it may be in a state of transplant shock. Your plant may still be adjusting to its new pot or area and may not be functioning as usual.

How To Fix It:

When repotting or transplanting, try to minimize root damage as much as possible. Also, make sure that the soil around the roots stays moist, and the conditions remain ideal until your plant recovers fully.

You can sterilize your garden shears or a sharp blade, trim the brown areas, and cut whole leaves if affected.

Plant Rust

You may not give much thought about r+plant rust when you’re questioning why your Pothos is turning Brown. You are much more likely to be worried about rust on your vehicle than on your Pothos.

However, plant rust is an issue definitely worth discussing! Generally, rust can be found on the leaves that are closest to the soil, and it’s not usually higher up on your Pothos.

If your Pothos has rust, you will notice tiny spots all under the leaves and possibly even on the stem.

These brown-colored spots will grow slowly and eventually become vast clusters of brown-colored messes, closely resembling rust.

When you are sure that your Pothos has rust, you need to act fast before the situation worsens. Rust thrives on moisture, warms, and low-light areas, such as wet and swampy air.

How To Fix It:

You can treat any rust issues occurring on your Pothos by watering early in the mornings, so your Pothos have the whole day to dry themselves out in the sun. Also, try your best to pick off any visible infected leaves so they won’t spread to the rest of your Pothos.

You can also purchase a bio-fungicide spray as a helper to treat the disease if it has become too powerful for you to fix yourself.

Bio-fungicides are budget-friendly and available at many garden warehouses and nurseries. Additionally, always remember that you should never compost your infected Pothos, or you will be spreading the plant rust even further!

Pothos Root Rot and Soil

Root rot are suspects, you’ll need to act quickly. Root rot especially can shift your concern from browning to “why is my pothos dying?”.

For the soil, just make sure your plant grows in well-drained soil.  For root rot, you’ll need to remove and repot the plant in new soil. Remember to cut the rotten roots, then treat the healthy roots with hydrogen peroxide and sterilize the pot. This helps prevent repeated root rot in the pothos.

Overfertilization

If you think your pothos’ brown tips are a result of overfertilization, the fix here is easy as well. It’s all about flushing out the excess fertilizer.

This is best done with a plant pot with drainage holes, or you can make the holes yourself. Water your pothos until water runs freely at the bottom of the pot. Do this anytime you suspect overfertilization and remember to let the soil dry.

To avoid this in the future, follow the fertilizer instructions to the T. 

Lighting

If you suspect that exposure to too much or too little lighting is the root cause behind the brown or black spots on your pothos’ leaves, there’s an easy fix here.

Just reposition your pothos to a location where it isn’t exposed to direct sunlight. The optimal position is in a room or area that has consistent indirect sunlight.

Frequently Asked Questions About Pothos Turning Brown

Should I Cut The Brown Leaves Of My Pothos?

Whether you should cut or remove the brown leaves from your pothos plant will depend on how severe the problem has become.

If more than half of your pothos leaves have been badly affected, removing the affected leaves would be your best option. You can leave any remaining unaffected leaves to give them an improved chance of survival.

However, if the problem isn’t severe and only a few of the leaves have been affected, you don’t have to remove the affected leaves. Instead, you have the option to diagnose and treat the cause in the sections discussed above.

What Causes Brown Lines Or Stems On Pothos?

If you notice brown lines on the stem of your Pothos, it is a clear indication of diseases. Although this isn’t a common issue, keeping it at the back of your mind would benefit you.

Why Is My Pothos Leaves Yellow With A Hint Of Brown?

Yellow leaves with a hint of brown are signs of pests, overwatering, or disease. You can make use of the symptoms presented above to help you to pinpoint the exact cause and take steps accordingly.