Pothos plants are known as super hardy, beginner-friendly houseplants. But they can develop issues, and it’s important to know how to treat them! Yellowing leaves are a common issue that can have many causes, so let’s talk about how to diagnose and treat yellow pothos leaves.
Yellow Pothos Leaves: A Common Issue With Many Causes
If yellowing leaves can have many root causes (pun intended), how do you determine the source of the problem? The trick to diagnosing a plant is to look for other signs that may help you narrow down the culprit. Because if there’s an issue, yellowing leaves will probably be just one symptom.
It’s also important to consider your care routine and what it may be lacking, or what your pothos may be getting too much of.
Here are the causes of yellowing leaves and other signs that may help you determine the underlying problem.
Natural leaf drop
It’s normal for plants, pothos included, to simply drop older leaves when they’re done with them. It’s also common for those old leaves to yellow or even brown before they fall off on their own.
If you notice an older leaf or two on your pothos plant turning yellow, this might be the cause, especially if everything else seems to be in order. If you determine that your pothos may be getting ready to drop those leaves, you can let the plant drop them on its own or remove them with a gentle tug. Don’t pull too hard! If the plant is ready to let those leaves go, they should come off easily.
If you notice several yellowing leaves along with general droopiness and dry soil, your pothos plant is likely underwatered. Severe underwatering may also come with crispy brown spots, especially on the leaf tips. If you determine that this is the case, give your pothos plant a good drink!
Those yellow leaves will not recover, so you may also want to remove those (again, tug gently and they’ll come off if they’re ready) so the plant can direct its energy to growth and maintaining healthy leaves.
Think about how much and how often you’re watering your pothos plant. If you simply missed a watering, this may be a one-time issue. But if you’ve been sticking to a watering routine and you still notice that your pothos is thirsty, you may want to water more deeply when you do water.
Frustratingly enough, yellow pothos leaves can indicate overwatering as well as underwatering!
If you also notice soft, dark-brown spots on the leaves or stems, your pothos may be overwatered. Make sure to check your soil as well. If it feels wet long after you’ve watered or has a funky smell, you may have an overwatering issue on your hands. You can test this with a wooden stick or your finger, but a moisture meter is the best way to determine how wet or dry your root ball actually is, because it’s possible for the surface of the soil to be bone-dry while the root ball is actually soaked. This can happen when overall drainage is poor or if your soil is compacted and has trouble absorbing/releasing moisture.
If you think this may be the issue, you might also want to unpot your pothos plant to check for root rot, which can happen if your plant’s roots sit in water for too long. If you notice any black, mushy, or smelly roots, trim those and rinse as much soil out of the root ball as possible and repot your pothos in fresh soil. Try using our Root Supplement when you do water to help the roots heal.
Another cause of yellowing pothos leaves that often occurs in congruence with overwatering is a lack of light.
Light helps plants use water efficiently, so if you feel that your watering routine and drainage are appropriate, it’s possible that your pothos needs more light! If your pothos plant isn’t in a bright spot, try moving your pothos plant to a place where it will get plenty of bright, indirect sunlight. This means that the plant is near a window but not directly in the sun’s rays (this can scorch the leaves!).
See if that helps your plant perk up and stops the yellowing from spreading.
The final cause of yellowing pothos leaves is nutrient excess or deficiency.
The best way to ensure that your pothos plant is getting the right amount and balance of nutrients is to use a properly diluted liquid fertilizer on the correct schedule.
I love to use Indoor Plant Food on my pothos plants and most of my other houseplants as well! I just mix a little into my watering can each week when I water and my plants are thriving. Indoor Plant Food is gentle enough to use with each watering, and it frees you from having to remember a schedule!
You can buy Indoor Plant Food on Amazon. Your pothos plants will love it!
Learn more in our pothos care guides here: