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Pothos Root Rot | Causes, Easy Fixes & More

brown pothos leaves

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Pothos root rot can be identified by both underground and surface characteristics. The main source for root rot in a plant is overwatering. Root rot can be fixed by a variety of techniques including repotting and trimming the affected roots.

The pothos plant goes by many names, such as devil’s ivy and money plant, and is known as a prime choice for beginner plant care.

Pothos plants have a wide variety of types that require very little maintenance from their owners. This plant species is seemingly cultivated to thrive independently without much interference.

Plant care and cultivation can, however, be a fickle practice at times. No matter how hassle-free plants may be, there is always a way your plant babies may land in the unpredictable snare of disease.

Root rot can be caused by a variety of factors, which could lead to your pothos’ early grave. But no need to panic – a few techniques can assist your pothos to battle the unfortunate contagion of root rot.

This article will primarily focus on detecting, main causes, and ways to eliminate root rot to save your pothos. 

How To Avoid Root Rot – A Pocket Checklist

  1. Know how often to water your pothos – Once or twice a week is more than enough to keep your pothos satisfied. And even less in winter. Make sure the soil dries before the next watering, your pothos will thank you. A key ingredient to pothos care is knowing how much water it needs.
  2. Inspect your pothos regularly to ensure early detection if your plant is suffering from root rot.
  3. Ensure you are using the correct pothos pot size – Make sure your pot is big enough for the size of your plant. Also, assess the pot and make sure it has enough openings for efficient drainage.
  4. Provide the optimum environmental conditions – these include the correct pothos light needs (no direct sunlight). Also, keep in mind your pothos prefer humidity in the room.

Pothos Root Rot Indicators – What to Look Out For

Spotting an unhappy plant may seem like an easy practice, but it can be harder than you think.

This is increasingly apparent with root rot as the main symptoms lie underground, shielded from the naked eye.

There are, however, some interior and exterior signs that can be easily identified if your pothos is suffering from root rot.

Unpleasant Odor

The most obvious sign of root rot is the smell. While healthy pothos usually have little to no odor, root decomposition has a decay scent emitting from the plant.

An unpleasant odor is a clear indication to inspect your pothos plant roots further.

Pothos Leaves Turning Yellow

Another easily spottable characteristic of root rot is pothos leaves drooping and turning yellow. While yellow pothos leaves could be due to a number of reasons, root rot is a top contributor.  

Roots Darkening in Color and Becoming Soft

If you’re unsure if your pothos is suffering from root rot, check the roots. Healthy roots tend to be pale and firm. Once they lose their vitality, they tend to turn brown and lose their solidity.

Affected roots will also be easily pulled from the ground in comparison to their healthy counterparts.

What Causes Root Rot in Pothos Plants?

Pothos houseplants can obtain some complications if they are not nurtured in the right conditions.

Not knowing how to water your pothos may seem trivial, but it’s very important in the care of your pothos plant.

The main contributor to root rot is an overwatered pothos, the ultimate example for killing something with kindness. Offering your pothos a few more sips of water than intended can lead to roots decaying due to a lack of oxygen.

A number of other factors, however, can also actively contribute to pothos root rot.

Insufficient Drainage in Pots

Poor drainage in pots can lead to your pothos sitting in water, whether you water it correctly or not. If your pothos plant is submerged in water, it could lead to root rot and inevitably suffocate your pothos.

Pothos Infected with Disease

There are a variety of diseases that can potentially infect your pothos’ healthy roots. The most common plant disease that causes root decay is Phytophthora root rot. This type is mainly caused by propagative cuttings that have been imported and have been exposed to water mold.

Another disease variant is Rhizoctonia root rot, which can be caused by contaminated soil. A clear indication of this infection is the appearance of dark spots on your pothos leaves.

Also, if soil is submerged in water it can lead to your pothos becoming vulnerable to fungal infection.

While the fungus thrives, depriving your plant of essential nutrients, your pothos roots will decay. This only further shows when it comes to your pothos, watering is very important to get right.

Over Fertilization

While fertilizing your pothos can be beneficial, it’s important to use the correct amount. If a pothos plant is overfertilized it can lead to high amounts of salt present in the soil.

This will alter the efficiency and health of the soil and make your pothos susceptible to root rot. 

Incorrect Environmental Conditions

The pothos species is known to be a tough cookie in terms of easy maintenance, but all plants have a preference when it comes to environmental conditions. Thus, some elements might hinder your plants’ growth and cause disease.

Pothos plants seem to favor moderate temperatures (between 15-29 °C) and tend to grow well in these conditions.

If temperatures are too low for the pothos it might cause insufficient soil drainage, which means the ground remains wet for long periods of time.

Tips to Revitalize your Pothos

Your pothos might adopt the demeanor of defeat – all hope is certainly not lost. With efficient damage control and a little bit of luck, your pothos might thrive once more.

From mild to severe root rot, a few key fixes can give your pothos a fighting chance.

Do Not Increase Water and Fertilizer Amounts

When our plants are in trouble, the first thing we want to do is overcompensate – resist this urge.

Do not overly fertilize or water your pothos to try and save it. Rotting plant roots do not respond to these elements in the same way healthy roots do.

Rotted roots cannot efficiently transfer the essential nutrients to the plant. So excessive amounts of water will only put a nail in your pothos’ coffin.

Trim Yellowing Leaves

To ensure your pothos is equipped to begin its revival journey, it is important to cultivate the correct environment for recovery.

Trim the yellow leaves on the pothos to ensure all the essential nutrients are being transferred to healthy leaves.  This will also reduce the strain on the roots and lighten their burden.

Pothos Repotting

What do we do when we find ourselves in a toxic environment? We simply remove ourselves.

A change of scenery and home is vital to save your pothos. A repotting session for your plant can easily assess the damage and remove hindering rotting roots as you go.

If you’re feeling unsure how to properly repot a plant with root rot, without damaging it further, here are some simple steps to follow:

  • As contaminated soil is a main contributor to pothos root rot, buy or obtain new indoor potting soil for your pothos pot. Be sure not to mix the contaminated soil with the new soil.
  • Excavating your plant from its home might seem daunting, but it’s quite a simple procedure. Place your hand on the soil and use your other hand to flip the pot over. Carefully slide the pothos from its pot.
  • The contaminated soil needs to be removed from the pothos to ensure no traces of infection are left behind to re-contaminate your pothos.
  • Assess the roots thoroughly to differentiate the healthy roots from the dying ones. Make an effort to prune the contaminated roots. If you’re unsure you can always feel the roots, if they feel soft and weak they are likely to be affected by rot.
  • Use a 3% hydrogen peroxide solution to kill any trace of fungus left on the roots. You can use this solution to clean your pot as well before adding the new soil. Make sure your pot has sufficient drainage and is the correct size for your pothos.

Root Rot in Pothos – Final Thoughts

Caring for a pothos plant can be a magical thing. With wide, glossy leaves and struggle-free maintenance, a pothos plant is bound to be a treasured addition to your indoor jungle.

Whether nestled indoors or thriving outdoors, however, no plant is immune to the harsh realities of nature.

While their surfaces may exude vitality, there may be decay lurking and rooting underneath. Thus, the importance of identifying and fixing early onset root rot in your pothos is vital.

Be sure to follow the aforementioned steps to eliminate root rot and to ensure your pothos springs back to its healthy self.