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7 Reasons why your Pothos Leaves are Turning Brown

Growing Pothos is a simple yet fulfilling way of adding greenery to your living space.

But what if, instead of looking green and fresh, the leaves start turning brown and unpleasant? Now that’s a nightmare of every plant lover!

Did you know that leaves can speak so much about the plant’s health? Pothos, unlike many other fussy houseplants, is very forgiving.

Therefore, if you have somehow distressed the plant, relax. Then, you can easily bounce it back to good health.

Overwatering and Extreme Temperatures could be one of the main reasons for browning leaves. Other underlining reasons could be an excessive amount of Harsh Light and Over-Fertilization. Humidity, Diseases, or Pests could be some of the other less common reasons to lookout.

Listen to this article:

A Hanging Pothos Plant
A Hanging Pothos Plant (Source: Unsplash)

If you have come across this article, I am pretty sure you love your Pothos.

Are the leaves of your Pothos turning brown?

Do you want to understand why and how to restore the leaves to health?

Let’s dive into the ointment for your distress and save your pothos before it’s too late.

Reasons for Pothos Turning BrownSymptomsSolutions
OverwateringTips of leaves turning brown. Large brown spots in the center of leaf.1. Water your Pothos once a week.
2. Use well-draining soil mix.
3. Pot should have drainage holes.
Bright and Direct SunlightLeaves burned, turns brown with continous exposure1. Put your plants indoors.
2. Place your plants close to the window that receives indirect light.
Low HumidityPothos leaves turn brown and make them crisp.1. Place a humidifier beside Pothos.
2. Spray Pothos with water.
Extreme TemperatureThe leaf color changes evenly to brown.Pothos grows within 70 degrees to 90 degrees Fahrenheit.
Excessive Use of FertilizersOver fertilization causes build-up of salts in soil, as a result leaves turn brown.1. Change the potting mix.
2. Use Compost manure or organic liquid fertilizers.
Pest InfestationTiny Whitish or Brownish egg-like structures on leaves.1. Change the location.
2. Spray and clean the plant with a mixture of Rubbing Alcohol and Water.
DiseasesBrown spots on leaves, mostly yellow halo or yellow ring like structures.1. Provide proper airflow to the room where you keep your plant.
2. Use Fungicide

Let’s discuss every reason in detail.

1. Overwatering

Overwatering is surprisingly more common than Underwatering. This is because houseplants like Pothos usually fall victim to soaking soil leading to brown leaves. Do you want to know the relationship between excessive water and brown leaves?

Healthy semi-damp soil allows air pockets to form in between soil particles. When the soil 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 roots.

Yes, plants take in oxygen not only through their body above the ground but also through their roots. They are the primary source of food, water, and oxygen. Hence, overwatering compromises the root health causing brown leaves.

Watering Plants
A Woman Watering Plants (Source: Unsplash)

Solutions

  • Water your Pothos only once a week or adjust the frequency depending upon your apartment conditions (light, humidity, temperature, plant size, pot size, etc.)
  • Check the soil properly by inserting your finger about one inch deep. Water only if the soil is dry.
  • Water as long as the soil is damp; don’t wait for it to be completely soaked. Always throw the water collected in the saucer.
  • Use a well-draining soil mix for proper water drainage. An ideal potting mix should contain some Perlite or Orchid Bark to ensure adequate airflow and prevent water retention.
  • Use a Terracotta or a Clay pot for indoor plants. Also, make sure you are using an ideal pot size for your Pothos. A larger pot leads to excessive water retention.
  • Your pot should always have a few drainage holes at the bottom. Be sure to check them.
  • Check the roots. If they have started to rot due to excessive water retention, prune them carefully to avoid further damage to leaves.

Remember to reduce the frequency of watering your Pothos in the winter seasons. Brown leaves are widespread in winters.

2. Bright and Direct Sunlight

Have you placed your Pothos outdoors? And, do they receive direct sunlight? Or, do you place them beside a south-facing window with plenty of unfiltered light?

If yes, harsh sunlight is responsible for your Pothos leaves turning brown.

Although Pothos can tolerate very low light conditions, BRIGHT DIRECT SUNLIGHT IS A BIG NO! It burns the tender leaves and turns them brown with continuous exposure.

And, if you have Variegated Pothos (such as Snow Queen or Marble Queen), the white part without chlorophyll is more likely to turn brown first.

On the other hand, there are high chances of the variegations being lost……forever! Scary much?

Solutions

  • Run outside and bring your Pothos indoors. Place them close to a window that receives indirect or filtered light.
  • Watch out for early signs! If your Pothos does not like light intensity, the leaves will turn pale before going brown. So hurry up and change the location of your Pothos with more forgiving lighting conditions.
  • Do not place your Pothos next to a south-facing window. They receive very bright light almost throughout the day.

3. Low Humidity

Brown Pothos Leaves Tip
Brown Tips in Pothos Leaves (Source: Unsplash)

Our room temperatures change according to the change in outdoor temperature. So we prefer turning up cold air conditioning in summers and hot air conditioning in winters. But how is this so harmful to your Pothos?

Humans can self-regulate their body temperatures; however, this is not so easy for plants.

And, it all comes down to a change in humidity levels! As we switch on the AC (whether hot or cold), the humidity in the room drops drastically.

How do we figure out if the brown leaves are a sign of low humidity? First, check if the brown leaves are crisp.

Brown and crisp leaves every so often indicates low humidity!

Solutions

  • Place a humidifier beside your Pothos for an extra boost of humidity.
  • You can occasionally spray your Pothos with water. This is personally my all-time favorite tip! (Make sure the leaves are not dripping. Wet leaves may lead to bacterial and fungal infections)
  • If you do not have a humidifier, place a small bowl with water just beside your Pothos. This will also do the trick.
  • Do not place your Pothos right beside your AC or heater. The surrounding air is dehydrated and damaging for your beloved Pothos.
  • Did you know that Pothos do well in bathrooms? Well, bathrooms are, in fact, highly humid!

4. Extreme Temperature

Extreme temperatures, whether hot or cold, are equally hazardous to all kinds of plants. However, when it comes to indoor plants, it becomes even more challenging.

Anything above 90 degrees Fahrenheit (32 degrees Celsius) and below 60 degrees Fahrenheit (15 degrees Celsius) is detrimental for Pothos. So the first sign that your Pothos might be suffering from harsh temperatures is brown leaves!

Pothos loves a temperature between 70 degrees to 90 degrees Fahrenheit (21 degrees to 32 degrees Celsius).

Extreme temperatures can quickly turn the bright green leaves into brown, too, within a matter of hours!

Solutions

  • In winters, place your Pothos away from cold and chilly windows.
  • Likewise, in summers, move your Pothos away from south-facing windows.

5. Excessive Use of Fertilizers

Potting Soil (Source: Pixabay)

How frequently do you feed your Pothos with vitamins and fertilizers? Did you know that Pothos plants do not usually require any plant food as such?

If you have the habit of fertilizing your Pothos now and then, hoping to grow them faster, you are in a big delusion! And, this is definitely the reason why your Pothos is turning brown.

Too much of anything is bad. Excessive use of fertilizers for indoor plants causes the build-up of salts in the soil.

Unlike in your garden, the salts have nowhere to escape from the pot. Hence, the roots absorb them, and the leaves significantly turn brown.

If you have to fertilize, do so only once a month or less, depending upon the size of your Pothos.

Anything more can be dangerous. Therefore, it is much better to go for organic fertilizers than store-bought ones.

Solutions

  • The best way to save your Pothos if you have over-fertilized them is to change the potting mix.
  • If you do not have access to a brand-new potting mix, pour plain water three times the volume of the pot. This helps the excess salt to escape from the soil through the drainage holes.
  • It is best not to fertilize the plant during winters. This is because Pothos remain dormant in the winter season.
  • If you want to fertilize, it is best to use compost manure or organic liquid fertilizers. Slow-releasing fertilizers are the showstopper!

6. Pests Infestation

Pest infestation is not a common incident in pothos. However, once in a while, they can still be infected from close contact with other plants.

If your Pothos occasionally has a few brown leaves or brown spots, check the leaves and stems carefully.

The pests like to live and lay eggs on the backside of the leaves. So if you see tiny whitish or brownish egg-like structures, your Pothos is infected!

Insect Eggs In A Leaf
Insect Eggs In A Leaf (Source: Unsplash)

Solutions

  • First and foremost, isolate the infected Pothos to a new location so that the pests do not spread to nearby plants. Also, check all the other plants!
  • Spray and clean the plant with a mixture of Rubbing Alcohol and Water. Make sure you do not spray the roots.
  • You can also use a Dishwashing Liquid and Water or Neem Oil and Water mixture to remove the pests.
  • Most of the pests have a long lifecycle. Therefore continue to spray the Pothos once every three days until the pests are all gone.

7. Diseases

Fungal and Bacterial infections to the Pothos plant can lead to brown leaves. But, how to identify the infections?

Do the brown spots on your Pothos leaves have a yellow halo or a yellow ring-like structure? If so, that’s a typical sign of bacterial infection!

The brown spots appear very unsightly and dry. If you have the habit of excessively misting your plant and causing wet leaves, your Pothos is prone to bacterial and fungal infections.

Make sure to check that your room has proper air circulation to avoid Fungal and Bacterial growth.

High humidity and poor air movement are ideal for microorganism’s development.

A spray bottle
A Spray Bottle (Source: Unsplash)

Solutions

  • Avoid heavy misting. Or, wipe off the excess water with a tissue or a clean cloth.
  • Make a habit of keeping the windows open occasionally for proper airflow to the room.
  • Ensure to remove all leaves and stems, even ones with the slightest sign of infection, to avoid the spread of Bacteria and Fungi.
  • You can and should use a Fungicide if the entire plant seems affected.
  • DIY remedy: Mix one teaspoon of Mineral Oil and one tablespoon of Baking Soda. Dilute it with water and spray the affected areas with the help of a spray bottle.

Have you been wondering why your Pothos leaves have holes?

Should you Remove Brown Leaves?

There is no way you can return a brown leaf to green. If you feel like the leaves are not healthy, it is best to trim them off. Give your Pothos a fresh start!

If you see any slightly yellow/brown leaves or starting to get brown, cut them off immediately.

Leaving the brown leaves on the plants will do much worse than we realize. It will consume more energy from the plant, which otherwise would have been used to form a new baby leaf.

And, if it is an outcome of a fungal or bacterial infection, it will affect other parts of the plant.

Use a clean pair of scissors to snip them off from the stem. If the damage is limited to a few leaves, you may remove them all at once.

And if the whole plant seems affected, do not remove more than 20% of the leaves at once.

Let us give the healthy leaves a chance for survival!

Common Plant Parts that Turn Brown

We now know multiple explanations for our Pothos leaves to turn brown. The most common plant parts that will go brown for several reasons include:

  • Stem: The brown stem is not as common as brown leaves. However, if you see that your Pothos has a brown stem, it can indicate partial death of the plant. It is mostly due to excessive watering and is irreversible.
  • Leaves: Entirely brown leaves and brown spots are signs that your plant might be receiving too much light, heat/cold, fungal and bacterial infections.
  • Tip of leaves: Over-fertilizing is the main reason for browning tips and edges in the Pothos plant. They appear to be sunburnt, leading us to an inaccurate diagnosis.

Points to Remember!

Remember to diagnose your Pothos before you treat them properly. The wrong diagnosis can do more harm than good!

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