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Why Is My Pothos Turning Brown? (Causes+What To Do)

Pothos, also known as Devil’s ivy, is a vining indoor plant with heart-shaped leaves. It is very hardy and easy to care for. They will stick to you from thick to thin, in almost all conditions but sometimes avoiding their needs may lead to browning of their leaves, brown tips in leaves, and spots on leaves. That will further create more problems for the plant if ignored.

The most common causes of brown leaves in pothos are overwatering, root rot, inappropriate temperature, salts in water, and pests infestation. A small change in these parameters doesn’t affect the pothos severely. But if the conditions are unfavorable for a long time, the plant may suffer severely.

The reasons could be one or many. To find out the reason behind your issue, let us get right into the details.



Different types of brown leaves in pothos

Pothos usually show have three types of problems related to brown leaves. These include brown tips, brown spots, and completely brown leaves.

A different set of issues causes all these conditions. Let us have a look at them in brief.

Brown tips in the leaves

The first and foremost problem is brown tip in pothos. It means only the tip of your plant’s leaves are turning brown. Rest of the plant looks healthy.

Causes:

Brown tips in devil’s ivy may be due to lack of water, excess salt in water, lighting issues, an improper dosage of fertilizer, or root rot.

  • The buildups of salt on soil due to saltwater or fertilizer can be the reason.
  • Keeping the plant near heaters, over radiators, etc. which blows the dry and hot air from them that may turn the leaves tips brown.
  • Overwatering may make the soil soggy and develop bacteria around roots, causing root rot, causing brown tips.
  • Underwatering will make the soil dry out too quickly, causing brown tips.
  • If the plants are root bound, they may develop brown tips too.
  • Direct light can dry out the soil and roots, making the plants weak and leaves tips brown.

Solution:

First of all, clip the brown tips from the leaves of your plant. Also, watering the pothos correctly and at the right time is crucial.

By checking the dryness of the soil, the watering schedule can be facilitated.

To avoid the soil from getting buildups due to the salt in the water, let the water sit overnight before watering, then use this water.

Keep the plants away from vents or heaters to protect them from getting dry and turning their leaves tips brown.

If the plant’s roots have become root bound, repoting is one way to get rid of the root bound. Shift the plant in a relatively larger container so its roots can continue to grow.

Bright indirect light or low light works best for pothos. So, place them accordingly.

Brown Spots on leaves

Pothos Have Brown Spots

The second common sight is brown spots on the leaves. You may sight this at multiple leaves.

Causes:

Brown spots on leaves may appear due to several reasons, including

diseases. Bacterial leaf spot or fungal infections, often occur because the plant is stressed, overwatered, overcrowded, or there is terrible air circulation

  • Direct sunlight exposure may lead to burnt leaves causing brown spots on leaves if ideal temperature requirements are not fulfilled.
  • Overwatering is one big reason as the water gets logged in the soil; oxygen cannot easily reach the roots.
  • Any chemicals like fresheners or cleaners, if came in contact with the plants, may form brown spots.
  • Due to overwatering, the roots may get infested with root rot causing brown spots.

Solution:

Escape watering for a few days if overwatering is the case and let the roots dry entirely.

Keep the plant away from other plants if infested with root rot so that other plants don’t get affected.

Use fungicide with the soil mix to avoid fungal infection and root rot. Also, it will facilitate air circulation around the plant.

Keeping a plant under the direct sun for a long time may result in sunburn.

So you need to move the plant under a shade away from direct light or move them in a spot where there is not much direct light.

Entirely brown leaves

Completely brown leaves can be a matter of concern for most plant owners. It means something is seriously wrong with your pothos.

Causes:

Some of the common causes include:

  • Root rot
  • Excessive lighting
  • Inappropriate temperature
  • Underwatering

Solution:

If the entire leaves of your pothos are turning brown, it is imperative to cut off the affected leaves completely.

The plant is not getting proper care, which calls for change in care routines. Identify where you are going wrong if you are underwatering the plant, water the plant more often.

Water the plant when the soil is dry by sticking your finger in the soil up to 2 inches.

Move the plant to the area where it will get appropriate temperature conditions.

If root rot is the reason, remove the plant from the pot and let the roots dry and completely cut off the mushy roots.

Now change the soil mix after one day and plant in another pot for long life.



My pothos leaves are turning brown

Let us have a look at some common causes of brown leaves in pothos. We will also learn how can we fix the same.

Watering issues

Possible problem:

A prevalent problem while taking care of your pothos is the watering schedule.

Overwatering or underwatering both can create problems for your plant.

You make sogginess in the soil by overwatering, causing root rot, pest infestation, brown leaves, wilting leaves, and brown spots on leaves.

Underwatering may lead to slow growth, brown tips, droopy leaves, flat-looking foliage, falling leaves.

Solution:

Every problem has a solution. We also have some in our treasure. When you know you have overwatered, all you need to do is put a stop mark on watering your plant for some time, maybe for a few weeks.

You can also take the plant out of the soil for a few days to dry out faster and get some fresh air.

Suppose underwatering is the matter, firstly, water the plant thoroughly. This will help the plant leaves that have got dry to get some moisture and retain its shine.

Make sure the water is drained out entirely from the soil as you don’t want to drown the soil at all. Ensure the water doesn’t sit on leaves for a long time; it will create spots on leaves.

Now you need to know how and when to water. There is no prescribed right time for watering your plant. You need to keep checking the soil’s moisture.

When you see the soil has dried out completely, it’s the right time. Try not to follow or make any schedule for watering your pothos as the conditions change throughout the year.

It ultimately depends on the soil’s dryness and as soon as it dries, watering them is crucial. During winters, less watering is required as compared to the summer season.

Ways to check moisture:

You can simply put your finger in the soil up to 2-3 inches and check if the soil is still moist or dried out.

You can check the moisture from underneath the pot through drainage holes, whether the soil is dry or moist.

If your pot is terracotta material, simply touch the lower part of the pot and feel if it is still cold or you can see the shade difference, the lower part of the pot would appear darker than the upper part indicating moistness in the soil.

If the edge of the soil has separated from the pot, that means the soil is dry.

Bottom watering:

This way of watering makes sure the soil is adequately watered without leaving it soggy.

Take a container or tray in which you will keep your pot, water the tray about an inch, and high depending on the tray or container’s size.

Now put your pot in it, let the plant absorb the water through capillary action. It is one of the best ways to water, which will save water as well.

Now take the pot out of the tray. Flush your plants every six months ideally, and every month if fertilizing and do it before fertilizing

Also read: How often should I water my pothos?

Nutrient issues

Possible problem:

Everyone needs food, and it should be sufficient but not overdone.

The lack of nutrients will make the plant weak, causing falling of leaves, leaves turning brown.

If the plant is over-fertilized, there may be severe issues like dying of plants, pale leaves, and leaves’ browning.

Solution:

Pothos can survive without fertilizer for months as they are not a heavy feeder.

However, if you want speedy growth, give it a 20-20-20 mix. They are hardy and can survive in unfavorable conditions too.

Ideally, fertilize once or twice a month during summers, and in winters, they can easily survive without fertilizers.

You can use fish emulsion ( or any other fertilizer) diluted to ½ or ¼ strength, depending on the growth.

If its growing season feeds them with half the strength. You can put the top dressing on half of the worm casting surface and mix it; you will not need fertilizer in that case.

Also read: How often should I fertilize my pothos plant?

Lighting issues

Possible problem:

The lighting issue can lead to several problems such as

  • Drooping leaves
  • Browning leaves
  • Sunburn
  • Legginess
  • Pale leaves

Solution:

The very first thing to do in this situation is to change the position of the plant.

Now trim the brown leaves or tips of leaves that have turned brown.

Pruning is helpful in this situation as the old and harmed leaves need to be taken off as they can further create other issues for the plant.

Direct Light:

Suppose direct light is the reason for your plant’s leaves turning brown.

In that case, you need to find a new spot for your plant where the plant will get indirect sunlight and water them thoroughly ( this will lessen the effect of direct sunlight).

Pale leaves turning to yellow indicates too much natural light. Too much sunlight will also lead plants to lose white parts very fast.

If keeping outdoors, keep under a shade to avoid direct sunlight.

Low light:

If low light is the reason, provide the plant with enough indirect light by changing its position.

Usually, this plant adapts in most light conditions, but low light may lead to slow growth as well, and variegated pothos may lose its variegation.

Moderate indoor light is ideal for your plant, fluorescent light, indirect light. All such light conditions will do good. Keep rotating your plant for even growth.

If you want to display your plant by hanging on a wall, make sure the light reaches them, especially on top of the plant; otherwise, they could go bald from the top due to lack of sunlight.

You can also place your plant underneath a lamp; it will also facilitate the plant’s growth.

Also read: How much light do pothos need?

Soil Issues

Possible problem:

If your soil mix is not well-draining, there are chances the plant leaves will go brown, as the soil will not let the water drain.

That will not allow air circulation, and the roots will also suffer as the roots are continuously wet.

This will also create a perfect environment for bacteria and other problems like pests, root rot, brown leaves, wilting leaves, diseases, slow growth.

Solution:

The pothos plant thrives in many ranges of soil conditions such as acidic, alkaline.

If the soil is still the reason for your problem, you need to change the soil mix.

Take out the pot’s plant, let the roots sit outside for a few hours in the fresh air, and change the soil completely. Otherwise, the plant may suffer again due to the previous soil condition.

You can make a soil mix by choosing any soil mix you like, any indoor potting mix, organic or any brand, or anything else will do.

If you are very sensitive to your plant, you can add perlite in a 2:1 ratio of potting mix to perlite.

Pothos is not very picky with the soil mix, so don’t stress much about it. Your plant is not very picky with the soil mix, so don’t worry much about it.

Just make sure the soil is well-draining to avoid sogginess in the soil.

Add fungicide in the soil mix (this will prevent pest infestation) and choose a pot 2 inches larger in diameter than the previous one if the roots have grown bigger.

But not too big pot, otherwise again the watering issues may occur.

Also read: What type of soil do pothos need?

Humidity issues

Possible problem:

Since the devil’s ivy plant is hardy and can thrive in different conditions, they like average-high humidity to flourish quickly. They may not be much affected but may suffer from dried leaves.

Solution:

They appreciate high humidity but can survive even in low to moderate humidity.

But if they suffer due to low humidity levels, you can simply mist around them or keep the pot on a damp gravel tray to give them the required humidity.

Keep the plant away from heaters, furnaces as they produce dry air making the plant dry very fast.

Also read: How often should I mist my pothos?

Temperature issues

Possible problem:

Temperature fluctuation can also lead to a wide range of problems. These include:

  • Brown leaves
  • Pale leaves
  • Wilting leaves
  • Sunburn
  • Defoliation

Solution:

The pothos plants are a tropical plant that flourishes in high-temperature conditions.

They can thrive at a moderate temperature ranging from 55°F to 80°F.

If the plant is suffering due to high-temperature conditions, you can raise the humidity levels around your plant and water them frequently.

This will also facilitate faster growth. Misting around the plant may also help.

Freezing temperature conditions may lead to the death of plants. If the temperature drops below 50 degrees, the plant will suffer.

Leaves may turn yellow, brown, bald. Don’t let the plant leaves touch the freezing window glass; this will make the leaves turn yellow, pale.

Provide with required temperature conditions to keep the plant going healthy. Move away from the plant if cold air is hitting the plant.

Watering less during this time, as dry soil remains warmer, but to the point, the plant can take.

Otherwise, the leaves will start wilting, indicating under-watering.

Pest issues

Possible problem:

If pests have attacked your pothos, it is considered the most serious issue for the devil’s ivy plant.

You will find mealy bugs, spider mites, and scale making a home in your plant. That is often due to overwatering.

It will cause root rot, brown leaves, leaves fall off, unattractive leaves, leaf spots, stunted growth.

Solution:

Wash the plant thoroughly. If the infestation is not severe, then this will knock most of the pests from your greenery.

Further, take rubbing alcohol, use a cotton ball, and dip in the alcohol.

Dab the cotton ball on the affected parts, check underneath the leaves.

If you find a web underneath the leaves, that indicates a spider mites attack. Horticulture oil can also be used to treat your plant.

If the pests infestation is severe on your greenery, it might call for insecticidal growth soap or spray.

Make your own spray by mixing one teaspoon of neem oil to 1 liter of water and a few dish soap drops.

Spray all over the plant, making sure all the evidence of pests has been removed.

Prune the infected leaves and keep the plant away from other plants so that it doesn’t spread.

Overwatering and over-fertilizing should be avoided.

Also read: Do pothos attract bugs?

How do you remove dead leaves from pothos?

Pruning the brown leaves of your pothos is as important as treating the plant.

That will stop the leaves from turning brown further, and the energy that the plant needs to grow more leaves will rise plus will make the plant look healthier.

It can be facilitated by using a sharp pair of scissors. They should be sterilized so that the plant doesn’t suffer from any other problem due to dirty scissors.

Use rubbing alcohol and wipe the scissors with them, and then only use the scissors for pruning your plant.

If the leaves tips have turned brown, cut across the leaf’s tip, which will remove the dead tissue, or you make cuts in angles to replicate the leaf shape.

If the leaves have brown spots or are entirely brown, preferably cut the entire affected leaf.

If the leaves on the upper part have been affected, cut till the leaves that are affected, make the cut on the stem so that it can grow new foliage in no time.

Removing brown leaves is crucial to stop other leaves from turning brown further.

Don’t be disheartened because this will only improve the growth of your plant. Also, sterilize the scissors after you are don’t with pruning to avoid them spreading to other plants.

A quick tip: Prune your plant from time to time. This will help you to come across any problem your plant is facing and prevent legginess and facilitate growth and make the plant grow bushier in no time.


Sources: Study of Pest in PothosCommon insect pests and diseases, University of Florida Research, Effects of Different Pot Mixtures on PothosPothos water need study

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