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Why Are My Pothos Leaves Turning Yellow? Answered

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There could be several reasons why your pothos leaves are turning yellow. These include over and under-watering, the amount of sunlight your plant is receiving, humidity levels, nutrient deficiencies, over-fertilization, bacterial infections, pests, aging leaves, or as a result of a transplant.

brown pothos plants leaves

Pothos (Epipremnum aureum) are popular houseplants because of their hardiness, easy-to-care-for nature, and aesthetic value. Depending on your pothos variant, yellowing leaves can be a sign of the ill-health of your plant.

Discovering what is causing this color change of your pothos’ leaves is crucial if you wish to find a solution to the problem and get your plant back to its usual healthy self.

Why Are The Leaves On Your Pothos Turning Yellow?

There are several reasons why your pothos plants’ leaves are turning yellow. Some of the reasons are more serious than others, but you can employ some pretty easy solutions to sort out the problem in most cases.

The first thing you need to do after you notice that pothos plants’ leaves have begun to turn yellow is to assess the situation and discover what could be the cause. The following is a list of possible causes for your pothos yellow leaves.

Pothos Leaves Turning Yellow Due To Under-Watering

Pothos plants are relatively hardy and can go long stretches without getting water. In some instances, you might have left it too long between waterings, and your pothos will show you that this has occurred by its leaves turning yellow.

In cases of under-watering, there will be some other distinguishing factors. These include soil that is very dry to the touch, yellowing leaves coupled with the leaves looking rather slack, and they might have started to curl inwards and feel limp when you touch them.

The Solution

If you have checked your pothos and its yellowing leaves are pointing out that you have not watered it enough recently, then the solution to your problem is relatively easy.

Your plant will now require good watering. Water your plant enough so that water starts to seep out the drainage holes at the bottom of your pot. Ensure once all of the water has drained out of the base, you empty your plants’ saucer as pothos do not like ‘wet feet.’

In the future, try and remember to water your plant more often. Once the top 25% of your plant’s soil is dry, you can give it water, employing the same tactics explained above.

Pothos Leaves Turning Yellow Due To Over-Watering

Over-watering your pothos plant is one of the most common causes of yellowing leaves. Pothos plants do not like their soil to be overly soggy. Instead, they prefer their soil to almost completely dry out between waterings.

If you notice your pothos plants’ leaves have started to turn yellow, but they are still rather plump-looking, you have probably been over-watering your plant.

Other signs of over-watering are permanently damp topsoil, sludgy-looking stems, pot saucers that fill up instantly when you start to water your plant.

The Solution

In the case of an over-watered pothos plant, the best thing to do is to hold off on giving your plant any more water until it has completely dried out. Once its soil is completely dried out, you can resume watering.

In the future, ensure that the top 25% of your soil has completely dried out before watering your plant again. Also, try to water your pothos consistently, as inconsistent water techniques can also cause yellowing leaves.

Pothos Leaves Turning Yellow Due To Root Rot

In some cases, over-watering would have gone so far as to facilitate a worst-case scenario, root rot. In many cases, once your pothos has reached this stage, there is no coming back, but if you manage to catch root rot early enough, you can save your plant. There are two primary causes of root rot in a plant.

The first is that the over-watering has continued for too long, and the roots have started to die because they cannot get enough oxygen.

The other is that the over-watering opened the roots to a fungal infection. Both of these cases can ultimately lead to the death of your plant.

To check for root rot, you will need to expose your pothos’ roots. The best way to do this is to slip your plant out of its pot carefully. Analyzing the roots while they are out, if they appear brown, sludgy, or soggy, then you have a root rot problem.

The Solution

If your plants’ roots are entirely rotten, there is no going back from there, and unfortunately, you will need to dispose of the infected plant and try again with a new one.

If you have been lucky enough to catch the root rot where there are still some viable roots left, then you can try and save your plant.

First, you will need to remove the infected roots with a pair of sterilized scissors, ensuring that you get all of the affected roots off.

Once you have done this, you can remove as much of the soil in the remaining roots as possible and then set your pothos to one side to dry out.

Wash your pothos plants pot in warm soapy water and dry it out before filling it with new sterilized potting soil.

Once your plant has dried out sufficiently, you can re-pot it in your clean pot. You can now give it a good watering but ensure that you empty the saucer so that your plant does not remain in the water.

Pothos Leaves Turning Yellow Due To Humidity

Pothos are tropical vines that require the right amount of humidity. If humidity levels drop too low, you can expect this to show in the leaves. First, they will droop before going brown and crisp on the edges and finally turning yellow.

If you notice that this is happening to your pothos leaves, you probably have a humidity issue, which has resulted in your pothos leaves turning yellow.

The Solution

You can give your pothos plant regular mistings with a small spray bottle, or you can place your pothos in a room with high humidity, such as a bathroom.

You can also install a pebble tray; this is a tray full of pebbles that you fill with water ensuring that the tops of the stones remain out of the water.

Place your plant pot on top of the pebbles, and the evaporating water in the pebble tray will keep your plants’ humidity levels up.

Pothos Leaves Turning Yellow Due To Incorrect Lighting

Incorrect lighting can also cause your pothos leaves to turn yellow. The usual issue here is when your pothos is not receiving enough light.

Often pothos owners assume that because pothos is low light tolerant, they can live in areas with little to no light; unfortunately, this is not the case.

On the other hand, if a pothos is getting too much light, it can also cause its leaves to turn yellow.

If you are worried about whether your plant is receiving too much or too little light, a general rule is that pothos leaves that are getting too much light will appear limp and a little crisp as well as yellow. Those that are not getting enough light will still appear plumpish.

The Solution

The best solution here would be to move your pothos to an area where they will receive either more or less light depending on what it requires.

Keep an eye on it for around two weeks, and if it starts to perk up and produce new green leaves, you know you have solved the problem.

Yellow Pothos Leaves Due To Incorrect Nutrient Balance

If you happen to over-fertilize your pothos plant, this can lead to a salt build-up in your soil and leaves, which will ultimately lead to your pothos plants’ leaves turning yellow. If this is the case, your pothos leaves will appear slightly scorched as well as yellow.

A lack of the correct nutrient in your soil will also turn your pothos leaves yellow. The patterning of the yellowing can, in some cases, indicate what kind of nutrient deficiency your plant has.

Leaves with yellow edges and green centers could indicate a magnesium deficiency. The bottoms of leaves turning yellow could indicate nitrogen deficiency, and the tops turning yellow could indicate a sulfur deficiency.

If the veins on a leaf and its stem are still green, but the rest is yellow, this could mean a zinc, iron, or manganese deficiency.

The Solution

If your pothos leaves are turning yellow because you have over-fertilized, the solution would be to give your plant a flush.

You can do this by pouring enough water into your plant pot until it comes out of the drainage holes at the bottom. Wait a while and then repeat this process several times.

If you think your pothos is suffering from a nutrient deficiency, you can give it a feed with a fertilizer rich in whichever nutrient you think your plant lacks.

Giving your plant some fertilizer every few months during its growing season is always an excellent way to prevent a nutrient deficiency issue.

Pothos Leaves Turning Yellow Due To Manganese Toxicity

Manganese toxicity in pothos stock plants is relatively common due to the potting soil reaching a pH of 5 or lower and excesses of micronutrient fertilization or fungicides. Any of these could cause your pothos leaves to turn yellow.

The Solution

To fix this problem in your pothos, you should cease using fertilizers that contain manganese elements such as mancozeb or maneb, and you should try to avoid using trace-element mixes. Applying lime to your soil will increase its pH to get your soil to a pH of 6 – 6.5.

Yellow Pothos Leaves Due To Bacterial Leaf Spot

You can identify bacterial leaf spots by their halo-like rings on the underside of the leaves, which look like tiny water spots surrounded by yellow.

These bacteria will flourish in the right conditions, such as when your plant has received too much water for extended periods, placed in an area that receives too little light, or any other states that have caused your plant stress.

The Solution

The best treatment for bacterial leaf spot is to remove the infected areas. Trim away any leaves that have shown infection with a pair of sterilized scissors, remembering to disinfect the scissors after every cut. You can also treat the bacteria with a fungicide.

You can prevent bacterial leaf spot infection by aiming to keep your plant happy and by watering it close to the soil.

Watering your plants from above means that water splashes over the leaves as it goes down. Watering from above can spread bacterial infection, and the water droplets on the leaves can become breeding grounds for diseases and other bacteria.

Pothos Leaves Turning Yellow Due To Pests

Pest infestations can occur on any plant, especially if your plant is already unhappy. Spider mites drink the sap from your plant’s stems, and this turns your pothos leaves yellow. Other leaf yellowing culprits are mealy bugs and scale.

The Solution

Pest infestations can often get out of hand quickly and should be dealt with soon as possible. You can use a fungicide to eliminate these pesky creatures, or you can use soapy water, washing down each leaf to eradicate your problem.

Should You Always Be Concerned Over Yellowing Leaves?

Yellowing leaves on your pothos is not always a reason to be concerned and can be completely natural in a few cases. Below are two instances when yellowing leaves on your pothos are entirely normal.

Pothos Leaves Turning Yellow Due To Old Age

When your pothos puts out new foliage, it sometimes needs to draw energy from elsewhere in the plant, and it gets this energy from the old leaves.

So when you notice that the bottom leaves on your plant are starting to turn yellow, and near the top of your plant, there is new growth, you can rest assured that the yellowing of your leaves is the natural process of your plant.

Pothos Leaves Turning Yellow After A Transplant

If some of your pothos leaves start to turn yellow after you have recently transplanted, this is probably due to energy conservation in your plant.

Firstly, your plant has undergone a bit of a shock which is completely natural after a transplant, and this will often result in some of the leaves turning yellow.

Also, to become acclimatized to the new pot, your pothos might absorb energy from some of its older leaves to push forward new leaf and root growth. You can rest assured that your plant should bounce back and that this yellowing is only natural.

Pothos Leaves Turning Yellow Frequently Asked Questions

Should I Remove Yellow Leaves From Pothos?

It is unnecessary to remove the yellowing leaves from your pothos unless infected with a bacterial leaf spot.

If you would like to remove them due to aesthetic reasons, you should ensure that you sterilize your scissors first and do not remove too many leaves at once, as this might send your plant into shock.

Can Yellow Pothos Leaves Turn Green Again?

Unfortunately, there is no coming back once your pothos leaves have turned yellow. They will remain yellow until they eventually fall off your plant.


There are several reasons why your pothos leaves might have started to turn yellow; some of them are more serious than others.

Although not all yellow leaf instances are a concern, the yellowing might be part of your pothos natural life cycle. In some cases, the solution to yellowing leaves is a straightforward affair, and in others, it will be harder to fix the problem.