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5 Reasons for Pothos Leaves Turning Brown

Pothos leaves turning brown may be another way of the plant telling us to care for it even more, but there are several underlining reasons for it!

Generally, Pothos leaves turning brown may be due to overwatering, temperature extremities, direct sunlight, high fertilizer application, low humidity, pest infestations, and disease outbreaks.

Listen to this article here.

Do you want to learn how to nurse the Pothos leaves back to health? Let’s discuss every reason in detail from the article below.

Why Are My Pothos Leaves Turning Brown?

Pothos is a tropical trailing vine with beautiful heart-shaped green or variegated leaves.

The plant spends most of its time creeping on the ground in its natural habitat or crawling on neighboring plants to reach for light on the forest canopy.

Due to this reason, Pothos grows a bit low and depends on the warm tropical conditions of the forest floor to thrive.

Thus, it’s common to see the plant developing yellow or brown leaves, as it may not get the right conditions for at-home care. 

1. Overwatering Issues

Pothos leaves turning brown due to overwatering is surprisingly more common than underwatering.

Normally, Pothos needs soil moisture to grow, but heavily drenched soil due to overwatering can cause root rots.

Extremely water-saturated Pothos develop floppy and yellow leaves that gradually turn brown. 

Since the roots get mushy brown due to rot, the plant cannot pull in enough oxygen, water, and nutrients from its roots.

If you don’t want your Pothos to suffer, water the plant every week in spring and summer and cut back watering to every 2 weeks in fall and winter.
pothos leaves browning
You can save an overwatered Pothos by admixing well-draining components in its potting soil or change the potting soil entirely.

However, the soil texture is equally vital because it promotes drainage and prevents water saturation.

Healthy semi-damp soil allows air pockets to form in between soil particles. When the ground is wet or overwatered, these air pockets are filled with water.

As a result, there is not enough oxygen for the plant to breathe in through its roots.


  • Check the soil properly by inserting your finger about one inch deep and water only if the soil is dry.
  • Always throw the water collected in the saucer.
  • Use porous, water-holding soil for proper airflow, moisture retention, and drainage.
  • Resort to ideally sized terracotta or ceramic pots with drainage holes for your Pothos and prevent using wide or deep planters.
  • If the container is devoid of any drainage holes, make sure to drill a few at the bottom.
  • During root rots, the soil may start to stench fishy. Unpot the plant, snip off the damaged roots and repot with fresh potting mix.

2. Direct Sunlight

Pothos growing in full sunlight can have noticeable brown, crispy leaf tips and edges.

As the plant is used to stippled sunlight in its native home, it cannot tolerate high light intensities.

Extreme sunshine can quickly surge the surrounding temperature, dry the soil by sucking up all the water and wilt the plant. 

Generally, Pothos demands 10-14 hours of strict indirect sunlight daily but ensure optimal temperatures between 65°F and 90°F. 
Image represents Pothos plant with big brown spot
Pothos can barely survive in direct sunlight and can get brown leaves if they are placed in intense sunshine for long.

Sunburn on the leaves (browning) is a common thing to witness in the light-saturated Pothos plant. 

An optimal light can create more pronounced variegation patterns on the Pothos leaves, but intense sunlight can also cause uncanny brown spots.


  • Place your Pothos close to an east-facing window or 3-5 feet away from a south-facing window.
  • If the plant is on a sturdy pot and immovable, rotate the plant once a month towards the direction of morning sunlight.
  • Shield the plant from scorching sunlight by using drapes.
  • Cut away all the damaged leaves to invigorate the plant for new leaf sprouts.

3. Low Humidity

Pothos is a tropical plant that needs high humidity and rarely tolerates feeble humidity levels.

Ideal humidity helps Pothos to cool down during heat spells and keeps them dehydrated.

Pothos requires steady ambient humidity levels between 50% and 70%.

High humidity doesn’t harm the plant, but low humidity can cause stunted growth, leaf, and bloom drops, fewer flowers, and brown leaves (due to lack of moisture).

If the signs of low humidity are noticeable, you can bring the plant back from the brink.


  • Place a humidifier beside the plant, group your Pothos with other plants, or keep it in a humidity tray for an extra boost.
  • You can mist your plant once a week in spring and summer.
  • Do not place your Pothos right beside an air conditioning vent or heater.
  • Mist the topsoil if it gets dry without saturating the soil layers.

4. Excessive Fertilizers

Imagine you are feeding-frenzy your Pothos to make it grow faster, but quickly notice some of its leaves getting brown tips.

However, to pinpoint the problem, you must inspect for white crust accumulating on the topsoil.

These are mineral salt buildup sourced from tap water or due to excessive fertilizer application.

Pothos requires only monthly feeding of liquid fertilizer throughout spring and summer.
Image represents brown tips of Pothos leaves
When fertilizer salts are high in the potting soil, the plant leaves suffer from fertilizer burn, retaining brown tips and margins.

When fall rolls around, the plant prepares for a winter sleep and becomes dormant.

If you habitually fertilize your Pothos in fall or winter, its leaves incur ‘fertilizer burns.’

Unlike in your garden, the salts cannot escape from the pot. Hence, the roots absorb them, and the leaves significantly turn brown.


  • Use distilled water to flush out the excessive fertilizer salts from the soil. Do it 4-5 times until the soil is salt-free. 
  • Dilute the fertilizer to 1/4 or 1/2 strength by adding more water.
  • Fertilize the plant after watering the soil as moisture helps the plant to absorb the nutrients, preventing any deficiencies.
  • Begin to fertilize the plant in late winter or early spring lightly to wake it from dormancy and revive it for new growth.

5. Pests and Diseases

Pest and diseases are not common incidents in Pothos. However, they can still be infected from close contact with other plants.

Check the leaves and stems carefully if your Pothos occasionally has a few brown leaves or brown spots.

These are the site of pest or disease infection and, when not thought carefully, can slowly spread to the entire plant.

Common pests of Pothos causing brown leaves are spider mites, thrips, aphids, white flies, mealybugs, and scales. While diseases like leaf spots (bacteria) and root rots (fungi) can also turn their leaves brown.

Pests often hide under the leaves or around the petioles, where they suck the plant juice and lay their eggs.

Meanwhile, brown spots surrounded by yellow halo-like rings are noticeable on the leaf and stem surface, and root rot originates below the soil.

Image represents pests in Pothos leaves
Pests hide under the leaves and slowly slurp away all the plant juice, distorting the leaves and leaving brown spots.


  • Isolate the infected Pothos from other houseplants to prevent the extent of disease or pests.
  • Dab the pests with q-tips drenched in neem oil or spray it directly on the symptomatic leaves or stems.
  • Cut away all the diseased parts using sterilized pruners and burn them for disposal.
  • Hang sticky traps around the plant to capture the airborne pests.
  • Use a strong water spray to expect the bugs from the plant parts.
  • Always repot the plant with fresh potting soil and avoid scooping pest or disease-ridden garden soil.

Should You Remove Brown Leaves From Pothos?

There are many reasons for Pothos leaves turn yellow or brown, but once the healthy leaves change their color due to upshots, they hardly turn back to green.

Additionally, the brown leaves will pull out all the energy from the plant and can be a new site for fungal or bacterial growth.

Pothos normally need annual spring pruning to remove the spent leaves, stems, or blooms.

If you see any slightly yellow/brown leaves, cut them off immediately. Follow these steps to prune your Pothos plant.

  • Select the leaves that are yellow, brown, or appear crisp and wilted.
  • Make clean cuts just below the node of the infected leaf or stem.
  • Avoid pruning more than one-third (20%) of the plant parts.
  • Collect the plant parts and later burn them to cut off any infection source.

From Editorial Team

Bottom Watering Pothos Plant
Do you know bottom watering can saturate the soil to deeper layers without overwatering the plant?

To offer this luxury for Pothos, place the potted plant over a pebble tray with 1-2 inches of water for 15-20 minutes.

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