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7 Ways to Tell If Your Pothos Is Dying: And What To Do Now!

Pothos is an excellent addition to any space. However, they can show some signs of stress if you ignore them because they do need some consideration. 

Pothos can even wilt to your surprise if you stress them over their limit of endurance. But before they die, they will give you some visual signs, and if you can understand those signs, then you can save your pothos from dying early on.

Unavoidable stress of environmental shifts, improper care, or ignoring them are reasons for the dying pothos. Whether internal like any disease or external factors like a pest infestation, the pothos will not be able to tolerate the unfavorable conditions for long.

We need to first understand the signs and what they are pointing towards to identify the problem. It is not so straightforward as one sign can indicate multiple issues that you will be able to know only by studying your plant thoroughly. 

To make it easier, we have discussed all the signs of a dying pothos and what do these signs mean for your plant.

Pothos leaves dying

I have done my best to address all of your concerns in the article below. However, if you still have any questions or are confused about the article, you can receive personalized one-on-one assistance from me by leaving a comment below. I will respond to your comment within a few hours.

Please note: Simplify Plants is reader-supported. Some links in the post are affiliate links and I get a commission from purchases made through links in the post.

7 Signs your pothos is dying

Pothos can be exterminated by frequently stressing them with inappropriate care routines or environmental stress, which is unavoidable. All there needs to be monitored to save your dying plant by taking the required steps.

Pothos are telling you in many ways that they are on the verge of dying. All you need is to listen to them. The faster you recognize the signs, the quicker you can fix the issue.

The following are the signs and respective reasons for pothos stress showing that they are dying.

Droopy leavesUnderwatering
Over watering-Too much light
White spotsFungal diseases
Yellow leavesWater stress
Low light
Brown leavesLow light
Low humidity
Dying leavesEnvironmental stress
Low light
Watering issue
Leggy growthLow light
Curling of leavesPests
Too much water
Too much light

Let us discuss in brief each of the signs of a dying pothos:

The leaves of pothos are drooping

pothos hole

There can be multiple causes of droopy leaves in your pothos. Let us discuss about them in brief.

Underwatering: The most common reason for droopy leaves of pothos plants is dehydration. The soil gets dry, and roots cannot uptake the water to other parts of the plant. This is turgor pressure in which water goes up from the roots to leaves and stems to keep them healthy.

Due to water scarcity, the leaves use up the water stored in them and lose through transpiration and start dropping when they lost all stored water.

You can identify quickly by looking at soil; if the soil looks too dry, then under watering is the case. Water your pothos and stand back to see your pothos recover in no time. 

Keep watering them more frequently after drought as they will need more frequent watering to regain their moisture level and get stiff and shiny leaves.

Overwatering: Sometimes plant owners try to combat under watering by overwatering their pothos, leading to drowning soil. Many just over love and over water their pothos feeling that they would need it.

In any case, your pothos is drowning. When the soil is soggy, it hampers the air and water supply of the plant. The roots don’t get air, and as a result, it starts to rot. That makes the entire plant deprived of water and nutrients, causing droopy leaves.

It has to be corrected by placing your pothos in bright indirect light for as many hours as you can and stop watering. Let them breathe for a few days. Water them next when the excess water has dried out completely.

Also read: How often should you water your pothos?

Too much light: Pothos like a lot of light and thrive with light all day long. They can tolerate direct sun too, but too much direct sun can harm the leaves and stems directly. The scorching sun will lead to increased transpiration and loss of water in the leaves. 

The roots will not be able to fulfill the water demand of the entire plant resulting in droopy leaves.  

It needs to be adjusted by moving your pothos to a suitable spot, do not deprive them of light. Give them light but not direct. If they are near any heating systems, move them to a cooler spot where enough filtered light comes in. 

Also, water your pothos as per their need and not as per any prescribed schedule.

Also read: Lighting requirement of pothos

White spots on leaves and stems of pothos

The white spots on pothos is usually caused by fungal diseases.

pothos bug

Fungal diseases: Powdery mildew is a fungal disease that produces white spots on the pothos leaves in the beginning. With time the entire plant will be covered with fluffy white fungus. It is contagious and will make our pothos ill and then dead very soon.

They usually infect pothos if the plant has poor air circulation, dry air, and high temperatures. Powdery mildew proliferates on high-temperature levels, and the fungal spores from mycelium (white spots) spread through air and water splashes. 

To get rid of them, isolate pothos and pinch affected parts, and dispose of them. You can use homemade solutions to treat the fungus: 

  1. One tablespoon baking soda
  2. 1/2 teaspoon liquid soap
  3. 4 liter of water. 
  4. One tablespoon of horticultural oil (optional: to help the mixture adhere to the fungus)

Water the plant below the leaves and then apply the solution all over the plant, sparing no parts. If it doesn’t work, then go for fungicide. A fungicide being on the toxic side should be applied as intended in the package to avoid any side effects. 

Also, while spraying fungicide keeps the plant away from other plants and keeps outdoors.

The leaves of pothos are turning yellow

Pothos turning yellow

Yellow leaves on pothos could also indicate various problems. These include:

Water stress: Most hobbyists go wrong during watering routines for their plants. They cannot figure out what the right amount is or when to water their plant. As a result, you end up either over-watering or underwatering.

 In both situations, the roots cannot uptake required nutrients and water to the leaves and stem, depriving leaves of water and nutrients. 

Leaves lose all the water stored in them through transpiration and also cannot use up light properly to maintain their color. That causes yellow leaves of pothos.

In the case of under-watered pothos, water them more frequently. Put a dish beside the pot to recollect excess water from the dish to regain its moisture. 

In the case of overwatered pothos, water less frequently and make sure they get ample indirect light all they long to dry out quickly.

Low light: Due to poor lighting conditions, the pothos leaves cannot photosynthesize enough to maintain the green color, and as a result, the leaves start turning yellow.

Find a spot in your home where your pothos can get enough light to photosynthesize. Do not expose them to direct sun for more than 2 hours a day. 

If you like to keep your pothos near a window, then use sheer curtains to reduce the light intensity or move the plant a few feet away from the window where the plant gets enough light but does not get direct sun.

Overfertilization: Many plant parents want to see their plants grow bigger and bushier and become greedy. They over-fertilize their plants to have fast growth, resulting in problems like yellow leaves, brown leaves, etc. 

The excess fertilizer gets concentrated as excess salt in the soil and also creates a toxic environment within the plant, which reflects through leaves as yellow leaves. The veins of the pothos leaves are green, and the tissue is yellow in case of overfertilization.

Always use a fertilizer formulated for your plant. A balanced fertilizer in the ratio 20:20:20 is best suited for pothos. Fertilize only during summers, and once a month is enough or as directed on the package.

Also read: Do pothos need fertilizer?

Some leaves have started turning brown

pothos brown

Brown leaves in pothos indicate serious issues. If you don’t take the necessary action now, you won’t be able to save your pothos from dying.

Low light: Lack of sufficient light directly affects the health of the leaves of pothos. If you see the leaves that are not facing or getting light are turning brown, then low light is the case.

Fix this by simply rotating the deprived part to the light. Please place the pot in a place where the entire pothos can get even light throughout the day. The West facing window is a great option.

Underwatering: Pothos start to lose their moisture level due to under-watering. The roots and soil lack water and can’t uptake water to leaves and stems. It will cause brown leaves.

Water your pothos and give them proper light to regain moisture level in the soil and then leaves. That will take some time, but with frequent watering, the pothos will again become healthy.

Humidity: Lack of humidity can be a problem for moisture-loving plants like pothos. This factor is the most ignored one, as plant parent thinks the plant will manage with different humidity levels.

Pothos leaves turn brown when they are continuously kept in a low humid atmosphere. The leaves of pothos demand humidity in the air to maintain their moisture level.

You can mist around the pothos frequently to improve humidity in the air. However, it is recommended to use a humidifier to level up the humidity in the atmosphere and easily maintain it.

Also read: Should I mist my pothos? (+Humidity requirement)

Wilting of leaves

pothos turned brown and black

When the leaves of your pothos starts to wilt, then it means the plant is just about to die on you. You may give a last attempt to save them. However, it won’t be easy at this stage.

Environmental shifts: When you move your pothos indoors due to cold weather or outdoors for summer, they go through sudden shock due to shifts in temperature and humidity levels.

Mostly when you get a new plant from the greenhouse, and they suddenly get a not so favorable environment, the plants go into shock. That can lead to leaf related issues. Dropping leaves is a way of indicating environmental changes.

Pothos usually adjust themselves in their current atmosphere, and with time they recover too. 

If you move your pothos from one location to another, like outdoor to indoor, then gradually do it. Keep it outdoors for a few hours initially and increase hours gradually till the plants are acclimated to the conditions.

Pests: Pests such as mealybugs, spider mites, aphids, thrips, etc. are tiny bodied bugs sucking on pothos sap. The sap contains the nutrients which plant store and need to stay healthy. 

The leaves due to infestation fall off the plant. You can identify by checking on leaves the signs of pests infestation.

Insecticidal soap, neem oil, horticulture oil are few effective and non-toxic ways to treat pets. Spray the solution once a week till the problem persists.

Also read: Does pothos attract bugs?

Low light: During the winter month, the sun intensity gets low, which may affect pothos’ light needs. They can lose leaves as they do not get enough light to produce the energy required to maintain the plant’s health. The plant will eventually stop growing and may even die.

Look for a brighter spot to combat this issue. If there is less light available all day long, then opt for artificial light options such as grow light, LED, lamps, etc. Make sure the intensity is not too high that it burns the leaves.

Watering issues: Watering can be a tricky job for any plant owner. Sometimes either you water too much or do not give enough water or water the already moist soil making them soggy.

That can lead to water shock or stress and also lead to under-watered or over-watered pothos. Pothos can stay on the drier side but overwatering gets them sinking. 

But the extreme condition of anything is not tolerable. The leaves and stem lose water and become weak, resulting in leaf drop and even death.

Check your pothos. If under-watered, water them thoroughly. Keep a dish under the pot so that the roots and soil can uptake the required water to regain their moisture level.

If overwatered, stop drowning your pothos till the soil dries out completely. The soil should dry before you water your pothos every time. Check the soil moisture by digging your finger/stick in the soil and water it as per the requirement.

Leggy growth in pothos

pothos turning leggy

Leggy growth of pothos is easy to fix. Here are a few issues you need to understand.

Low light: Uneven access or availability of light can lead to leggy growth in pothos. Seedlings stem growth in height rapidly in the direction of available light. 

They grow but don’t have the strength and girth to support leaves resulting in lesser leaves, thin, fragile, and stretched out stems.

This can be fixed only by supplying enough light to the plant evenly or by rotating them every few days so that each part of the plant gets sufficient light.

Pruning will also help the soil and roots by reducing the need to support leaves and stems. They will also bring your pothos back in shape, and with new growth, the plant will have more leaves and strong stems.

Overfertilization: More food doesn’t mean bushier plants. However, you can see the stems stretching in height but will hardly find any new growth on them. 

The overfed pothos will suddenly get a boost in their growth due to excess nutrients but will not have any visible growth of leaves.

The fertilizers will concentrate in the soil as salt and harm soil and roots as well.

The first thing you should do is wash the soil with plain warm water thoroughly to flush excess fertilizer from the soil through drainage holes. Now prune the leggy growth as much as you want.

Fertilize after a few months and during the growing season only. The dosage should be as labeled in the package description.

The pothos leaves have started curling

Pothos Leaves Curling

Pests: Pests are irritating insects who such on the sap of pothos and multiply rapidly. They such on leaves stem from pothos sucking all the sap, making them weak. The leaves tend to curl as a sign of distress.

A thorough inspection of your pothos can avoid this. To control pests, wash the entire plant with water and use dish soap to eliminate stubborn pests. 

Prick any pests you see with your hands. Also, trim all the infected parts of infected pothos.

To control them further, you can use any of the following treatments:

Use any of the above ways to treat your pothos till they are entirely in control. Keep cleaning the leaves with a damp cloth to eliminate any pests or eggs laid by these pests before they multiply to create a mess.

Too much water: Roots and soil of pothos do not like to stay or drown in water. If kept in such condition, pothos’ soil and roots suffocate and cannot supply water and nutrients to the leaves and stems. 

The leaves lack water and start curling as a result. This can rot the roots and also lead to the death of the plant.

Always water your pothos when they need not by any routine or your convenience. Just by looking at the soil, you can tell the soil is wet or dry. If the soil seems dark, then it is still moist.

You can also lift the pot and analyze it by the pot’s weight if the soil is soggy or dry. Watering should be done thoroughly. The drainage should be proper and should drain excess water within 2 minutes of watering.

Too much light: Due to excess heat, the leaves lose water through transpiration. The older leaves curl at the tips, and the new leaves grow small. 

Move to a location where your pothos can get appropriate light but not too much heat. The plant should get indirect light all day long for proper growth and even growth.

Also read:

Sources: Study of Pest in PothosCommon insect pests and diseasesUniversity of Florida Research, Effects of Different Pot Mixtures on Pothos, Pothos water need a study

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