Pothos is probably one of the most popular and easy plants to grow indoors. It requires little maintenance and can survive diverse conditions, but the leaves of pothos turning black is a problem many plant growers experience and do not know how to fix.
Pothos leaves turn black for multiple reasons like too much or too little water, burns due to over-fertilization, cold damage, root rot, diseases, and pest infestations pothos black. However, you can fix them if you check the conditions, identify the exact problem and give them the right care.
In this article, we will discuss the blackening of pothos leaves. We will discuss the causes behind the black leaves and also discuss remedies to fix the problem. So let us get started.
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Why my pothos leaves are turning black?
Pothos, or “Epipremnum aureum,” is one of the most highly recommended plants for beginners.
Furthermore, they also have excellent air-purifying properties.
Natives of French Polynesia, these plants quickly became popular worldwide due to their creeping vines and beautiful variegations.
Despite being a hardy plant, it suffers from several problems.
Whenever you notice any color change, wilting, or stress sign, you must immediately start to take action.
Among the few problems the plants go through, one of the problems is when the leaves start to turn black.
It is a sign of some form of stress the plant is going through.
Though scary to look at, it is not difficult to treat the plant.
You have to carefully analyze the warning signs the plant shows to understand the problem the plant is going through.
Overwatering is the reason that causes the death of the maximum number of indoor plants.
If you neglect an overwatered plant, it can die in no time.
Overwatering is a serious problem; once you realize it, you must take immediate action.
Overwatering occurs when you water your pothos plants more than they require.
So the soil does not get time to dry and stays constantly wet, and such conditions create an environment where the roots of the plant begin to suffocate due to lack of oxygen and eventually die.
Overwatering is one of the prime causes that kill your pothos.
The moment you notice the leaves turning black, you need to immediately check the soil condition of the plant to find out if overwatering is the cause.
How to fix an overwatered pothos?
You can fix overwatering if it is at the initial stage.
However, if we keep ignoring the situation and watering the plant, it might get too late for the plant to survive.
Let us quickly go through the steps that can help you prevent overwatering:
- Firstly, if you constantly notice wet soil, immediately stop watering.
- Water your pothos only when you find the top 2 inches of the potting soil is dry.
- Move the plant to where it gets more light and air, so the soil dries up faster.
- If you are unsure when to water your plant, dip your finger in the soil, check the moisture content, or use a moisture meter.
- Let the soil dry out in between watering.
- With a chopstick, poke some holes gently in the soil so that air can move inside freely and help it to dry.
If you find the plant healing after following the above steps, that’s great!
But, if you see no results, you must understand that overwatering has reached a more advanced stage, and root rot might have begun.
In that case, do the following:
- Take the plant out of the pot.
- Wash the root ball under running water.
- Inspect the roots carefully. If you see all the roots are white and fresh, that means the roots are still healthy, so repot the plant in fresh, well-draining soil.
- If the roots have turned brown or black soft, and mushy, then take a pruner, sterilize it in rubbing alcohol, and then prune the rotten leaves.
- Discard the rotten roots immediately.
- Prune off all the black leaves and parts.
- Prepare a fresh soil mix that is very light. Add organic elements like peat moss, charcoal, sand, coco coir, perlite, etc., to improve the drainage and quality of the soil.
- Repot the plant in the fresh soil in a new or sterilized pot. Ensure the pot has a drainage hole.
- Water the soil until it runs off the drain hole, and keep it at a spot that receives bright indirect light.
- Do not water again until the soil is dry. Let the soil dry out in between watering.
- Reduce watering during cooler months.
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Underwatering is easier to fix than an overwatered plant.
Underwatered, dry, dehydrated plants can cause the leaves of the pothos to turn brown or black.
Underwatering happens when the plant is constantly getting lesser water than it requires.
This pushes them into dehydration and causes stress.
How to fix this?
- Fill a large bucket with water and soak the plant pot for 20 minutes. This method is known as bottom watering, a very effective way to hydrate the plant.
- If you tend to forget to water your plants, keep an alarm to remind you.
- Water the plant whenever you see the topsoil is dry.
- Invest in self-watering pots.
3. Poor drainage
Proper soil drainage is important as poor drainage holds a lot of unnecessary water that waterlogs the soil, keeps it wet, and can lead to the growth of fungus and root rot.
A soil that does not have the right drainage gets compact over time.
It holds water and blocks the flow of oxygen, which can suffocate the roots.
This can lead to problems of root rotting and a sick plant, resulting in black leaves.
How to fix this?
Improve the quality of the potting soil by adding organic elements to amend it.
Adding perlite, vermiculite, sand, crushed charcoal, etc., improves soil drainage and prevents the soil from getting tight and compact.
4. Too much fertilizer
Fertilization is an important part of your plant care routine, but incorrect usage can damage them seriously.
Incorrect fertilizer uses can burn the plants, accumulate salts in the soil, and turn the green leaves of your pothos black.
If you fertilize your plants too frequently, at the wrong time, or in a quantity that is more than required, that can lead to harmful effects.
How to fix this?
- Flush the soil with filtered water to get rid of the salt build-up.
- Refrain from fertilizing your pothos in the winter season.
- Fertilize your plant only during the spring and early summer because they remain the most active and need more food.
- Do not apply the fertilizer too close to the plant body as it may burn the roots.
- Always read the instructions before using chemical fertilizers.
- Organic fertilizers are more recommended than synthetic ones because they are less concentrated and ideal for pothos.
- You can use homemade fertilizers like green tea, coffee grounds, compost, eggshells, etc., to make a rich yet nontoxic food for your pothos.
5. Excessive light
The tropical forests of French Polynesia grow under the canopy of bigger trees in dappled sunlight.
Thus direct sunlight burns the leaves quickly.
Pothos do not do well when they get direct hot sun for a long duration.
2-3 hours of morning sunlight can be fine, but you must protect them from the hot afternoon sun.
Too much sunlight can turn the leaves brown, black and crispy and burns them.
How to fix this?
Trim off the burnt leaves, as they will not get back green anymore.
If your pothos receives direct midday sunlight, pull back the plant a few feet away from the window or put up a sheer curtain to reduce the intensity of sunlight.
6. Cold damage
Pothos plant in nature enjoys mild warm temperatures with high humidity.
They belong to the tropical world where the temperature never gets too low. Thus the ideal temperature range is between 70-90°F.
Anything below 50°F, or a sudden fluctuation in temperature, a cold draft can damage these plants.
Pothos also benefit from humidifiers or misting that increase the humidity around the plant.
Researchers have found that extremely cold harsh temperatures can make them sick, and leaves can get black due to cold injury.
The extremely low temperature or frost sends the pothos into stress, and the affected parts soon start to get black.
How to fix this?
- Trim off the black leaves as they will no more recover.
- If your region experiences harsh winters, immediately shift your pothos indoors.
- Keep the plant at a spot where it will remain sheltered from cold drafts or cold winds.
- Choose a location where it gets sufficient light and stays warm.
- Do not keep the plants directly in front of fireplaces, heaters, or air conditioners, as they tend to suck out the moisture from these plants and fall black and shed.
- Keep the plant away from glass panes where the leaves get rubbed against the glass.
Though pothos is a resistant, hardy plant, they are still occasionally attacked by pests and bugs like mealy bugs, spider mites, scales, etc.
If noticed in the initial stages, they can be treated with some effort, but if you neglect them, they can suck out the life of your pothos.
These bugs attach themselves to the pothos leaves, and their nutrients render the plants weak and sick.
The pests feed on the plants and leave behind sooty black molds on the leaves and cause black-brown spots on the leaves.
How to fix this?
- When you notice the signs of pest attack on your pothos, move the plants away from the others as they tend to spread quickly to other plants.
- Trim off all the infested leaves.
- Wash the plant with a strong hose cleaning all the pests’ buildups. Focus on the underside of the leaves, as most bugs try to hide in those areas.
- Mix 1 tablespoon of Neem oil in 1 liter of plants and spray it on the plants. Repeat this spray 3-4 days back to back.
- If the infestation still needs to clear, then several pesticides are available in the market. You can get one of those and spray it on your plants. But remember to read the instructions.
- Keep the leaves clean, and do not let dust ad gunk buildup on them.
- Remember, one of the major causes of pests in your pothos is poor ventilation and excessive humidity. So make sure the plant gets lots of air and light.
Apart from pests, various diseases like blight attack pothos, and as the situation worsens, it makes the leaves go black.
If noticed in the early stages, they can be treated, but if you ignore them for a prolonged period, your plant might not live.
Blight is difficult to tackle and quickly spreads to other plants.
How to fix this?
Use commercial fungicides available in the market to clear the insects.
Make sure the plant is kept in a place with sufficient airflow.
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Keep your pothos healthy and thriving
- Keep the pothos at a spot where it receives a lot of bright but indirect light and good ventilation. Keep the soil of your pothos slightly moist but not soggy.
- They can survive various temperatures, but anything below 50°F can damage them.
- Feed the plant with organic food during the growing season.
- Ensure the soil you use to grow your pothos is light and very well-draining. It hates compact and tight soil.
- Mist the pothos in the morning to keep them clean and let them dry before dark.
- Trim the vines during the active season to make them bushier and encourage branching.
- Since the leaves of pothos are toxic, make sure to keep them away from children and pets.
Now that I have discussed all the probable causes that can cause the blackening of the leaves of your pothos, it will help you check and find the exact problem and fix it.
Prevention is better than cure, so always keep an eye to check the plant to examine for any signs of the problem. Grow the plant in a suitable environment to keep it free from diseases and stress.
Sources: Study of Pest in Pothos, University of Florida Research, Effects of Different Pot Mixtures on Pothos, Pothos water need a study
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