Browning Pothos Leaves: How to Save Your Plant 

The browning of pothos leaves could be attributed to factors like watering, light, humidity, or nutrient deficiency. Despite typically being easy to cultivate, pothos plants do have precise needs.

Brown leaf tips, brown patches, or brown spots on Pothos plants are all signs of underwatering, overwatering, overfeeding, low humidity, too much light, high temperatures, pests, and illnesses. Pothos turn brown as a sign of aging, transplant shock, or poor water quality.

Pothos Plant Needs

Browning often happens with other symptoms, such as leaves becoming yellow, curling, wilting, dropping, and stunted development. These are all signs of a plant in distress, so listen to what your pothos or Epipremnum aureum is telling you.

Pothos, or Epipremnum aureum, is an aroid (Araceae) and needs all the conditions this family is naturally accustomed to:

  • Medium-light under a rainforest canopy
  • Occasionally dry soil
  • An organic, well-draining soil
  • High humidity

Reasons for Pothos Brown Leaves

Light-sensitive pigments called anthocyanin, anthoxanthins, carotene, chlorophyll, and xanthophyll (responsible for autumn colors) are accountable for all leaf colors. 

Any alteration to the health of these cells will result in changes in the pothos plant leaf’s color.

Your pothos plant leaves turning brown indicates that all other light-sensitive pigments have been removed, leaving only lignin, which isn’t light-sensitive, in the afflicted area.

The brown color or pots on pothos leaves, stems, tips, or margins indicate that they are mostly dead. They cannot, of course, return to their previous color.

Pothos Leaves Turning Brown Due To Watering Issues

Underwatering, overwatering, and poor water quality are all major causes of browning pothos leaves, including tips, margins, spots, and splotches. How?

Watering Techniques

Pothos leaves will curl inward, droop or wilt, turn yellow (chlorosis), or have dry, crispy brown tips and edges if neglected or not watered well. The soil will be dry, and if this continues for an extended period, your plant will develop slowly, drop leaves, wither, and die.

Solutions to Watering Techniques

The frequency with which you water your pothos will be determined by your plant growth cycles (dormancy), humidity conditions, root compaction, and the soil mix. 

Don’t stick to a watering schedule; rather, be informed by the soil moisture levels. Test the moisture content by feel, weight, or the sound of the pot when tapped—only water when the soil dries in the top third of the pot.

Pothos Leaves Turning Brown Due To Root Health Issues

Root health is a product of proper watering, soil health, and decent pots. A well-draining soil mix is the fastest route to root health. Overly wet soil prevents roots from breathing, causing bacterial wilt disease.

Root rot causes golden pothos to develop brown leaves, splotches and patches. Consistently wet potting mix is indicated by the lowest leaves of your pothos becoming yellow, then brown.

Furthermore, moisture encourages soilborne pathogens to flourish, and they will soon attack the weakening roots, causing root rot. More on root rot can be found under illness.

Solutions to Root Health Issues

Use a pot with holes at the bottom and ensure each drainage hole remains unblocked. Trapped excess water and over-watering commonly affect a plant’s health negatively. 

Soggy and dry soil for more than a week should be avoided. Potting soil should have a balance of organic and inert matter to optimize water management.

Withhold watering, inspect drainage holes, provide your plant with strong, indirect light, maintain an optimal temperature, and enhance air circulation.

Then, ensure you have the correct pot size (oversized can cause problems) and that your potting mix drains well. Purchase or manufacture an aroid mixture or make your own.

Root Rot

Overwatering encourages root rot pathogens to flourish. Contaminated soil, water, plant debris, planting on the ground, and inadequate hygiene can also spread these illnesses.

Some may infect stems and foliage, giving black or dark brown spots or splotches in addition to root rot.

Rhizoctonia root rot and aerial blightSigns include brown, uneven blotches on leaves and stems, depressed brownish cankers on the soil line, and root rot (brown and mushy roots). Your plant will wilt, have yellow leaves, grow slowly, and may be affected by aerial web blighting.
Pythium root rotIt stunts development and produces stem rot at the soil line. Other indicators include wilting yellow leaves and plant death.
Southern blight (Sclerotium rolfsii)  Brown or back rot will appear along the soil line as water-soaked lesions, wilting, girdled stems, rapid collapse, and death. Sclerotia and cottony fungal growth may also occur in afflicted areas.

Solutions to Root Health Issues

Avoid overwatering your pothos, increase air circulation, and avoid wetting the foliage. Also, place your plants on high benches rather than on the ground, avoid placing plants on top of others, and practice good cleanliness.

Disinfecting utensils and pots are part of proper sanitation. You also wash your hands before handling your plants.

Use hydrogen peroxide to treat pothos root rot. Pour a cup of water with a teaspoon of 3 percent hydrogen peroxide into the soil.

You must repot your plant in severe circumstances. When repotting, use sterilized pruning shears to remove brown, black, or mushy leaves. Dip the roots in a fungicide to prevent a recurrence.

Constricted Roots

Rootbound plants have roots growing from drainage holes, fading or browning lower leaves and brown tips. Other symptoms include a leggy plant, curling, wilting or drooping leaves, dropping, poor growth, etc.

The roots have outgrown the pot and now lack room to grow, resulting in the spiraling. They also don’t get enough water or nutrition.

Solutions to Root Bound Pots

If it is during the growing season, repot your plant into a pot 2-3 inches wider than the root ball and allow for some growth. Otherwise, waiting until late winter or early spring would be best.

Pothos Leaves Turning Brown Due To Light Issues

Excessive light will scorch the leaves, resulting in yellow to brown tips, edges, and patches. Also, the leaves will appear yellow or paler, indicating that they have been washed out, bleached, or faded, and they may wilt or curl but will not drop soon.

Solutions to Light Issues

Remove your pothos from direct sunlight and relocate them away from your grow lights. Place them outside in a shade or greenhouse.

Inside the house, place them away from windows where the sun will not reach them, or use blinds. Whether your window faces east, west, or south makes no difference. Make certain that no sunshine reaches your plant.

Pothos Leaves Turning Brown Due To Temperature Issues 

Both heat stress and frigid conditions, particularly cold drafts, can cause pothos leaves to be brownish.

Heat exhaustion

Heat stress causes increased water loss from leaves and, in severe cases, damages plant tissues. The symptoms include leaves bending or cupping, wilting, yellowing, brown tips or edges, leaf drop, and stunted growth.

During hot summer days or heat waves, relocate plants to a shaded or cooler location. Plants should also not be placed near heating vents, fireplaces, or radiators.

Drafts and Coldness

Water crystallization inside plant cells may be harmed by cold winters or drafts. Your plant’s leaves or areas may be yellow, black, brown, or pale, and it may droop. An entire leaf may also turn brown overnight.

Bring your plants indoors during the winter. If your pothos are in a drafty area (such as an open window or doorway), relocate them to a warmer, less windy location.

Avoid exposing your plant to sudden temperature changes. It will also result in browning, yellowing, and other symptoms.

Humidity Issues

Low humidity will remove water from the foliage, causing symptoms comparable to underwatered pothos, such as leaf curling, crispy, brown tips and edges, yellowing, and so forth.

I suggest you buy a humidifier, which is the most effective method. Humidifiers like the LEVOIT, 6 liter top, fill a cool mist and can run unmanaged for up to 60 hours, covering a large area. Its mobile app lets you link it to manage humidity remotely.

Pothos Leaves Turning Brown Due To Nutrition Issues

Excessive feeding will burn the roots, change the pH of the soil, and cause salt buildup. All of these items will prevent your plant from absorbing water or minerals. Excessive salts may suck water from the roots or leaves of plants.

Lower leaves will turn yellow, with brown tips and margins, wilting, poor development, leaf drop, and crusts on the soil mix.

Nutrition Solutions

Pouring water at room temperature for around 30 minutes can leach or flush the soil. Then, feed your pothos with a balanced fertilizer once every 4-6 weeks during the growing season. You might also adjust the potting mix.

Pothos Leaves Turning Brown Due To Pest and Disease Issues

Do sap-sucking pests such as aphids, mealybugs, thrips, scale insects, and spider mites infest your plants? It could be the cause of the little brown stains on pothos leaves. But they can also be yellow, black or white.

These bugs suck plant liquids, depriving them of nutrition and water. Some will even inject toxins into plants. And those with waxy bodies may look like small flying, stationary, or moving dots and bumps.

Aside from pothos leaves turning brown, several pests may distort, ruffle, mishappen, or curl the leaves. Other pest infestation symptoms on pothos plants include stunted development and drooping leaves.

Potential Pests for Pothos Plants

  • Tiny moth-like bugs, soft-bodied and flying, with a powdery covering: You’ve got whiteflies.
  • Stationary, oval or dome-shaped, or flat fluffy bugs that don’t move: You have a scale problem
  • Green, black, red, brown, yellow, or gray pear-shaped bugs, honeydew, and sooty mold: You have an aphid challenge.
  • Spider mites weave webs.
  • Silvery stippling or specks, as well as long-winged bugs: You have the pesty thrips

Solutions to Pests on Pothos Leaves

Isolate sick and fresh plants. Then hose the plant to get rid of them. If mealybugs are present, wipe the leaves using rubbing alcohol-soaked cotton balls.

Use neem oil, insecticidal soaps, and horticultural oils for severe infestations. Additionally, for thrips, use dormant oil sprays, and for aphids, use a dish soap solution.

We use Bonide Ready to Use Neem Oil to control pests. It is lethal to insect larvae, eggs, and adults. It is also efficient against spider mites and helps to prevent fungal illness.

Pothos Bacterial Leaf Spot Disease

Illnesses, particularly root rot and leaf spot diseases, can create brown to dark brown necrotic lesions on your pothos leaves, with some having a yellow halo. Some will also cause brown patches on the stems and petioles.

Pothos’ brown spots could be caused by fungal and bacterial leaf spot infections, forming black, dark brown dots on the leaves and stem.

Bacterial leaf spotSmall black, tan, or dark brown patches with a yellow halo appear. Some may fall and leave holes. Others, given appropriate conditions, unite to form larger splotches.Avoid soaking leaves, segregate diseased plants, and use copper or streptomycin-based fungicides. Also, wash your hands and disinfect your equipment before and after touching your pothos.
Fungal leaf spotsOval, round, or oblong black, dark brown spots or necrotic areas with a yellow halo are the most common symptoms. Spots can combine to create patches, causing premature leaf drop.Avoid watering leaves, increase air circulation, and use fungicides. Maintain good hygiene, such as sterilizing your pruning scissors or other equipment before use and cleaning your hands.

Pothos Leaves Turning Brown Due To Aging

Lower leaves begin to yellow as they age and may have brown margins, tips, or patches and curling before the entire leaf turns dark brown or blackish.

This discoloration is a natural aspect of the aging process. When the leaves turn yellow, cut them using sterilized secateurs.

In Closing

Pothos leaves turn brown when environmental factors like excessive warmth, too much light, and low humidity or care difficulties like overwatering, underwatering, or overfeeding deteriorate or influence plant pigment development. However, infections, pests, or water quality can all play a role.

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