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Why Does My Pothos Have Brown Spots? (Causes+Solution)

Brown spots on your pothos (devil’s ivy) is an unsightly view on your greenery. These mini spots enlarge over time, making the entire leaves dead, and you have no idea what is happening to your plant. It is crucial to determine the cause of these brown spots on your pothos to save your plant.

Excessive lighting and overwatering are two common causes of brown spots on your pothos. Apart from these low humidity, fungal diseases, fertilizing inadequately, watering issues, and inadequate air circulation can also give birth to these brown spots on your pothos leaves.

All these problems can be resolved with easy and practical solutions.

Along with the solutions, you will get to know how to protect the plant from these problems in the future.

Let us read further to observe the reasons and their respective solutions.

Pothos Have Brown Spots

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What causes brown spots on pothos leaves?

There are seven major causes of brown spots on pothos. The most crucial step for fixing this problem is determining the cause.

So, let us dive in and learn in brief about all of these problems.

Excessive lighting

Pothos plants are tropical plants, growing in the arms of forest shade, making them comfortable in low light levels, making the indoors a perfect place to keep them.

Any form of light with high intensity and direct can be harmful, such as direct sunlight or artificial light with high intensity causing brown spots, brown leaves, brown tips on leaves, and pale leaves.

In severe cases, you will see all these symptoms, indicating the improper source of light. Keeping them outdoor or near a window exposed to direct scorching sun for long hours will burn the leaves, brown spots, and other issues.

Also, if you think you have safely kept your plant away from direct sunlight, placing them under or near an artificial source of light whose intensity is too high, you are harming your plant with excessive light from such sources.

Also read: How much light do pothos need?

Watering issues

Watering issues can be deeply responsible for brown spots on your pothos leaves.

Underwatering conditions can be the culprit; this will make the soil dry, causing brown spots.

If you are under watering for a long time, your plant may become weak over time.

If overwatering is your problem, you can check by sticking your finger in the soil and see if the soil is moist every time you water your plants.

If the soil remains soggy or wet while you are watering your pothos, That indicates overwatering is the cause since you do not give the soil enough time to dry and hence lead to brown spots on foliage.

Different seasons call for different care routines. If you are watering the same way regardless of the season, you are surely gifting the pothos plant leaves those brown spots.

Watering foliage is also one reason for brown spots, as the water on leaves will saturate the salt on the leaves, causing brown spots on them.

Low humidity

They appreciate average-high humidity levels, and low humidity levels may cause sufferings to your plant.

Yes, they are hardy plants, and they don’t become prey to usual plant issues, but excessiveness of anything may harm.

If they are kept in a low humidity atmosphere for a long time, they will suffer. If you keep them near vents or over radiators, the dry air produced by them will soak all the humidity from the environment and the plant.

These conditions will encourage problems like leaves dropping, brown spots on leaves, slow growth, pests, etc.

Also read: Do pothos like to be misted?

Fungal diseases

Fungal diseases like anthracnose and others cause brown, dark lesions on leaves and stems. They can be identified as circular or irregular yellow-brown spots enlarging over time.

This fungus does well in a cooler environment where there is moisture, which they can usually get in summers if your plant is kept indoors.

Bad air circulation in the soil or the atmosphere will help them grow all over the plant.

And if you are overwatering the plant, bingo, you are creating a perfect feel for the fungus to grow.

You don’t need to be doing it all wrong; even one of the above-given care conditions can cause fungus on your pothos resulting in brown spots.

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Leaf diseases

Leaf diseases don’t mean that only the leaves are affected. It means there is a problem in your care routine.

There can be several causes of leaf diseases such as overwatering, high humidity levels, or kept in the poorly ventilated atmosphere, watering foliage, etc.

Widespread leaf disease alerts you for significant problems. Overwatering is the root of many issues, creating a network of problems like root rot, fungal diseases, browning leaves, drooping leaves, and other leaf diseases.

If you see wet-looking brown spots on your pothos leaves, that positively indicates leaf diseases.

Suppose your plant is suffocated in an area due to poor ventilation. In that case, there are high chances of leaf diseases.

Also, if you are missing too much in maintaining humidity levels, or maybe you kept it in a high humidity atmosphere, they may get prone to leaf diseases.

The reason could be any of these; you need to identify it through your care routines and plant placement.

Pests

Pests invaders like spider mites, mealy bugs, scales may attack your plants, causing speckles on the pothos leaves, falling of leaves, weak plant, and slow growth.

Spider mites spread their webs on the leaves, especially underneath the leaves that you can’t notice quickly, slowly making a home in your greenery.

Mealybugs, soft, sticky bodied sucking tiny insects, slowly suck on leaves and stems, causing brown leaves, spots on leaves. They feed on leaves leaving eggs.

These pests can be caused due to different reasons such as bad air circulation, low humidity levels, watering inappropriately, over-fertilization, etc.

These pests can come from anywhere, maybe in the soil that came with the plant, possibly through commonly used equipment or the surroundings. These pests population grows pretty quickly.

Fertilization issues

Pothos doesn’t thrive on fertilizer a lot; they are not dependent on them for survival.

Pothos will require fertilizer, but if you fertilize them every month, you are over-fertilizing them and making the plant conditions worse.

Overfertilization will make leaves droopy, falling of leaves, brown spots, crisp brown tips. That is due to excess fertilizer salts buildup on soil, making the plant weak and vulnerable to different diseases.

On the other hand, under fertilizing for a long time, the pothos becomes weak, and the leaves will develop brown spots, weak stems, and different diseases.

They have a low tolerance for salts. So, make sure you are not overfertilizing your pothos.

How to treat brown spots on pothos?

Before treating the main problem, start with washing off the plant leaves thoroughly with room temperature water and then removing the damaged and dead leaves.

Use sanitized pairs of scissors for cutting the damaged leaves and sanitize them properly after removing the affected parts. That will prevent other plants from getting affected. Isolate the plant from other plants, preferably.

Inspect your plant closely and consider all your care routines. By doing this, you will most likely identify the culprit of your pothos plant’s problem. Accordingly, you can act further.

Now with that out of the way, let us look at some of the possible solutions to these common problems we discussed earlier.

Lighting:

Adequate lighting is crucial to save your plant from light damage. 

Change the plant’s position, from direct sun or artificial light source having a high intensity to indirect bright light or low light conditions. 

We recommend you keep your plant indoors. It will mostly meet its lighting needs. 

However, if you have kept your plant near a window or balcony exposed to direct scorching sun for a long time, move the plant to the spot to get indirect light. 

If you want to keep your plant outdoors, keep them under a shade.

Watering:

Watering your pothos is essential. If you have overwatered your plant, stop watering instantly and let the soil dry.

If you are underwatering, water the pothos thoroughly. The right way to water your plant is by letting the soil dry completely between watering.

You can check the soil’s dryness by sticking your finger up to 2-3 inches in the soil and checking if the soil is still moist. Water accordingly.

Watering needs may differ in different seasons. For example, during summers, the plant may need more water, and during winter, they require less water.

As long as you follow the procedure, by checking the moisture in the soil and watering accordingly, your pothos will thrive.

Humidity:

Humidity needs can be fixed by misting around the plants and ensuring enough air circulation.

You can also use a pebble tray to pour water on pebbles such that the water doesn’t reach the top of the pebbles, place the pot on it, making sure the pot doesn’t sit on the water.

This is a great way to improve the humidity levels around the plant.

Another way is using a humidifier and increasing humidity in the atmosphere. Keep plants in a group to keep humidity levels high.

Fungal disease:

Fungal diseases give your plant a hard time; they spread relatively fast and become a reason for your plant’s death.

They can be treated by removing the damaged foliage, washing the plant leaves.

Detach them from other plants to avoid any spread in other plants.

Treat the plant with a copper-based fungicide. You can use neem oil or any horticulture oil as well, pour in a bottle and spray all over the plant and wait for a week and observe the condition.

Spray again if required. And provide the plant with better air circulation.

You can also sprinkle cinnamon on the soil; they will destroy fungus on a large scale.

Leaf Disease:

Leaf diseases can make your plant foliage ugly and vulnerable.

Please treat them with neem oil or make a mixture on your own by mixing one teaspoon of neem oil to 1 liter of water with a few drops of dish soap.

You can then pour the mixture in a spray bottle and spray all over the plant for a few days till the problem persists.

Pests problems:

Pests can be treated by thoroughly rinsing off the plant with room temperature water for a few days if the pests have not severely attacked them.

Wipe off any webbing by the spider mites. Isolate the plant from other plants so that these invaders don’t migrate to other plants.

In between washings, try to keep the humidity high to prevent pests from spreading further.

Depending on infestations, the solution follows, if they are few, wipe them off.

Spray rubbing alcohol all over the plant. If it is severe, use neem oil mixed with 1-liter water and a few dish soap drops.

You can then spray the plants with the mix and leave it for a few days and see if it’s required to respray the mixture. Hydrogen peroxide is also an option.

Fertilization:

Pothos is significantly less demanding, especially when it comes to fertilization.

If you have over-fertilized them, the salt build ups on and inside the soil need to be washed off thoroughly.

Please don’t wash them with other plants around to avoid the problem blowing other plants.

You can use a little dish soap mixed with water in spray bottles and spray all over.

Wash the plant for a few minutes and let the water drain properly from the soil. Don’t water again till the soil dries completely.

If the condition is severe, you might have to repot the plant, change the soil, and throw away the affected soil completely, and use a fresh soil mix.

Also, rinse the roots and if there are any mushy brown roots, cut them off. You might also need to repot in a larger pot.

Fertilize the pothos plant only during summers once 2-3 months, and no need to fertilize during winters and autumn at all.


Sources: Pothos disease control, Potho Production Guide, Epipremnum aureum.

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