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How to Save Overwatered Pothos? [All Queries Solved]

Pothos, righteously called “Devil’s Ivy,” is a plant that regains life no matter how many times you cut it but fails when overwatered severely.

Generally, overwatered Pothos have limpy and soft parts, brown spots on leaves, moldy growth in the soil, and an unpleasant fishy odor due to root rot. To save from overwatering, there needs to improve soil drainage, refraining the Pothos from watering and repot them.

Many amateur plant growers can easily overwater their Pothos because of the plant’s tropical nature and requirements.

However, even less is more when watering a Pothos, so you have to be careful and know when your plant needs a drink.

Hence, if you don’t want Pothos to perish due to overwatering, follow the article to learn about the symptoms and ways to solve the issues.

Signs of Overwatered Pothos

The tropical habit of Pothos necessitates well-draining moist soil with plenty of surrounding moisture.

However, the plant dislikes its root from being wet for too long!

Pothos in sunlight
Pothos responds to the situation of overwatering by showing several symptoms.

This is why the effect of overwatering begins from the roots and slowly progresses upward to the plant leaves.

But balance is the key to watering your Pothos, and you should not keep your plant under-watered as well.

Hence, take help from the table below to look for the signs of underwatered vs overwatered Pothos.

Signs of Overwatered PothosSigns of Underwatered Pothos
Yellowing of the leaves.Pothos may show signs of dehydration like leaves drooping.
Leaves may develop soft brown spots.The lower leaves of the plant starts to turn yellow.
Leaves become limpy or droopy.Vines of the plant also appear hanging.
Leaves of the entire plant become pulpy.Leaf edges and tips become brittle and brown.
Leaves of the plant curl upward or outward.Whole plant appears to be weak and wilted.
The underside of the leaves forms water-soaked blisters, called edema.Leaves curl inwards.
Whole plant looks barren due to dropping of leaves.Growth of the plant stops.

Although both conditions harm the plant, caring for under-watered Pothos is easier than overwatered ones.

Thus, as a responsible plant grower, it is essential to check the signs of overwatering quickly before it can do further harm. Below are the symptoms that you may need to consider!

1. Brown and Yellow Leaves in Pothos

As Pothos leaves, dedicate themselves to giving aesthetic décor, any yellow or brown patches can diminish their quality.

However, sometimes deficiency of nitrogen also causes the yellowing of leaves.

If the older leaves at the base of the plant start to turn yellow, then the overwatering is the source.

Besides, Anaerobic conditions in the soil also cause the leaves to get unusually yellow, which may worry you.

Overwatering Pothos can result in its leaves turning brown and yellow in color.

Anaerobic conditions arise when you keep Pothos in the soil containing excess water. In simple terms, you are smothering your plant.

However, brown patches at the leaf’s edge show that the plant pushes too much water into the leaf, causing the veins to burst open.

2. Rotting of Healthy Roots

Overwatering may also bring out the serious issues of root rot that happen when you keep the waterlogged conditions in the potting soil. 

Root rot occurs below the soil, and the visual symptoms can miss out even by the keen eyes of experienced plant growers.

Waterlogging forms a breeding ground for the fungi Pythium, Fusarium, and Phytophthora, which primarily cause root rot in Pothos.

If you are 100% sure your Pothos has root rot, you can uproot the plant and check for the damage.

You can learn this by observing the dark brown coloration and the slimy texture of the roots. A healthy root will be light brown in color.

Slimy roots indicate that your Pothos is severely overwatered.

Also, it is ideal for checking whether the root will break easily. If firm, then the root is healthy.

Additionally, you can smell the roots if you want to exercise your nose. Root rot is nothing but decaying; hence a rotten root will have a foul and unpleasant odor.

3. Limping or Softening of Leaves

Pothos don’t like “wet feet,” so ensure you water it right with a well-draining growing medium.

Wet feet occur when you keep your Pothos in excess water for a long. This can cause the leaves of the Pothos to turn soft and weak, and root rot is a source of this.

But, there is confusion among the plant growers that underwatered conditions also soften the leaves of your Pothos.

If you want to confirm the true cause, all you need to do is to check the soil for moisture.

If the moisture is high, the limpy leaves are due to overwatering.

4. Shriveled and Mushy Appearance of the Pothos

Pothos is a delicate plant in terms of watering, and the more you give it, the more likely it gets waterlogged, which can lead to root rot.

Rotting slowly spreads from roots to the stem, turning them mushy or pulpy to the touch, and maybe the plant needs urgent attention.

Image represents the wrinkling of leaves in Pothos
Overwatered Pothos have wrinkling or shriveling of leaves due to damage to the roots.

Similarly, the plant’s leaves also look shriveled and struggle to keep their original looks.

It is because the roots can already be dead far before you know it, and the plant cannot pull enough water from the soil.

Hence, it becomes important to have a look at your plant once in a while during watering sessions.

5. Curling of Leaves in Pothos

When you are thirsty, you don’t throw the water, but drink it or keep it for later use, isn’t it?

The curling of leaves is the same for Pothos as it struggles to retain moisture.

Thus, the direction of curling is the thing that you want to watch out for. Pothos curls the leaves inwards to save water when it is getting more than usual. Sounds unusual, right?

Pothos curl their leaves inward to save the water.

When too much water is in the soil, roots cannot breathe and take the nutrition from the soil.

This makes the plant curl the leaves inward to save the remaining water so it doesn’t dry rapidly.

6. Wilting of the Plant

Of all the symptoms, wilting is the one you must worry about the most, as it is the final sign that your overwatered Pothos will show before it dies.

Wilting can also occur by underwatering, but the only difference is that you can reverse this by giving the plant adequate water.

GIF Image represents wilting of Pothos leaves due to overwatering conditions
Overwatering causes suffocation of roots that results in wilting of leaves.

In the case of overwatered wilting, the damage to the roots is already done, and the situation of Pothos becomes far beyond saving.

Oxygen is necessary for the plant to absorb water from the soil. When water exceeds usual, it fills in between the soil particles, displacing the oxygen.

Without oxygen, your Pothos suffocates from the inside and cannot absorb more water.

As a result, the whole plant begins to droop and wilt after that.

7. Mold Growing on the Soil

The root rotting conditions in your Pothos which I mentioned earlier, result from molds or fungi growing on the potting mix.

Molds are long, white, thread-like growth and are extremely irritating because they spread quickly and cover the entire soil surface within a few days.

GIF Image represents the growth of molds in the soil due to high soil moisture
High moisture in the soil invites the growth of molds.

They can even grow on the base of your Pothos’ stem.

Furthermore, molds exist in highly moist soil conditions where their spores flourish.

Hence, if your Pothos soil has uninvited guests as molds, you can easily guess that your plant is tolerating overwatering issues.

8. Pest Infestations

It is not just the bad luck that might love your Pothos, but fungus gnats are also the culprits. 

These annoying pests love moist soil conditions, and overwatering settings suit them perfectly.

Moreover, the decaying roots caused by overwatering provide their larvae with the food they require to thrive even more.

Image represents pests and fungi that infest on Pothos
Pests and fungi are commonly occurring problems in Pothos.

Additionally, powdery mildew can also make a home in the potting soil if there are frequent strikes of overwatering that can slowly pass from the soil to the upper parts of the plants.

Hence, if there is a vigorous increase in these annoying pests or fungi around your Pothos, it is time to look closely for the signs of overwatering.

How to Fix An Overwatered Pothos?

You can rejuvenate an overwatered Pothos by starting to water the plant properly. Your plant can perk up again within two weeks under the optimum care requirements.

Saving your Pothos requires a careful understanding of the overwatering symptoms and the measures to take after the symptoms appear.

But before you start to water your plant again, you need to follow these steps to save your Pothos.

Step 1: Terminate Watering Your Pothos Immediately

This is the vital step that you must take to save your Pothos.

Any more addition may worsen the situation even further. You must check the water present in the soil constantly between watering sessions.

Use moisture meters or finger dip tests to check the dryness of the soil. If the few inches of the top soil feels dry, then you must water your Pothos again.

Another way of checking the soil water is by picking up the pot. A pot with enough water will feel heavier than a pot with dry soil.

Step 2: Place Your Pothos in a Shaded or Low-light Area

Moving your Pothos to a shaded area will cause less harm to the foliage.

The best place to consider is the one that receives dappling sunlight or in front of a window sill covered with transparent drapes.

The foliage cannot cool down to increasing temperatures because the decaying roots cannot take enough water to the topmost parts of the plant.

Additionally, the leaves are more vulnerable to quick drying and getting sunburned much more easily if kept in direct sunlight.  

Step 3: Get Rid of the Top Growth, Dead, or Damaged Parts

After moving your Pothos to a suitable lighting place, you must remove some of the top growth and dead or damaged parts.

Furthermore, new growth, brown and dry leaves, or dead leaves and stems demand a lot of energy from your plant.

The plant is already stressed enough due to overwatering, and you do not want to stress it beyond the limit.

So, you better guide your Pothos to utilize its energy in a more productive place.

To complete this, you only need clean scissors or a set of pruners and some disinfectant.

Make clean cuts to remove those damaged areas and a little of the healthy portions to divert all energy for survival instead of maintaining new growth.

Step 4: Retain Aeration; remove the Old Soil and Decayed Roots

Help your plant by changing the old soil, removing the decayed roots, and retaining the aeration for its roots.

Tap gently around the container pot a few times to loosen the root ball, after which you can grab the plant by the base of the stem and pull it from the pot.

Give your Pothos a new pot with drainage holes if it has outgrown its current pot.

However, if the plant is happy with its current container, you can skip this part.

Instead, you can free the soil from the roots by placing it under the running water after drying it over a cooling rack for a few hours.

GIF Image represents the process of removing dead and decaying root portions
Remove the dead portions using sterilized pruners.

You can use pruning tools to remove the mushy, dark, and slimy roots and keep the roots that are sturdy or firm to the touch and white in color.

In any case, never forget to sterilize the pruners.

Step 5: Repotting Your Pothos

Take the initial step of repotting and prepare a suitable potting mix for your Pothos.

Your plant shall like its soil to be well-draining and slightly acidic; hence keep those crucial priorities in mind.

Prepare a balanced potting mix by blending the following ingredients – 4 parts peat moss or coco coir, 2 parts perlite, 1 part vermiculite or sand, and 1 part shredded bark.

After that, you can take a new container with drainage holes. Any terracotta or plastic pot will do its best, but ensure it is at least two inches wider than the previous one.

However, you can use the same container, but ensure washing and scrubbing the container with bleach and water (1:9) solution before repotting.

Also, you need to continue with the following!

  • Add a layer of pebbles at the base of the container to improve drainage, and add the mix at the top.
  • Hold your Pothos in the middle of the pot and pour the soil around the root zone all the way up to the base of the plant.
  • Lightly sprinkle water or Chamomile tea over the potting mix to dampen it. Chamomile tea has mild fungicidal and antimicrobial properties, protecting your plant from damping.

Tips to Prevent Overwatering in Pothos

You can avoid the mistake of overwatering your Pothos by going along with these tips.

  • Only water your plant when the top inch of the potting soil is dry. Check this by using moisture meters or chopsticks by taking a moisture-dip test.
  • Throw away the excess accumulated water in the pot’s saucer every time you water your Pothos.

Pothos plants need once every seven days in Spring and Summer and once every 10-14 days in Winter.

  • Avoid misting if there is high humidity (70 percent) in the surroundings.
  • Reduce the watering sessions if the plant gets less heat and light during the winter.
Pothos need bright indirect light to thrive.
  • Always consider the size of the plant while watering. Younger plants require less frequent and less water than mature plants.
  • Remember to water your Pothos when the temperature reaches 90°F.
  • Avoid watering at night when the evapotranspiration rate is low.
  • Try to provide water from a bottom-up approach by letting the plant pot sit in a container containing water.
  • Develop a routine of giving water to your plant in the early morning if you are letting the plant sit in direct sunlight the whole day.

From Editorial Team


The heart-shaped foliage of Pothos is always under threat from overwatering. However, you can easily solve this by giving the plant sufficient water under the correct frequency.

If you find any signs or symptoms in the article above, do not wait for your plant to revive. I have mentioned everything for you to restore a Pothos suffering from overwatering issues.

After all, if you show the plant a little heart by giving it a proper amount to drink, it will open its heart for you.

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