Pothos are a classic houseplant and a beginning indoor gardener’s dream! But even though these plants are super easygoing, they can still develop problems. If you notice something off with your pothos, use this pothos troubleshooting guide to get your pothos back into shape!

Pothos Troubleshooting Guide: Common Pothos Problems

Yellow Leaves

The most common issue we see with pothos plants is yellowing leaves. However, this (like many other discoloration issues) can have multiple causes!

Sometimes older leaves will yellow when the plant is done with them, but if you notice many leaves yellowing, there may be an issue.

If multiple older leaves start yellowing at once, your pothos plant may be underwatered. If the soil is also very dry, this is probably the case, so you should give your pothos a drink!

If you notice many leaves, new and old, yellowing all over the plant, your pothos plant could be overwatered. If the soil is damp or if the pot or soil isn’t draining well, you may want to ease up on the water for a while.

Another possibility is that your pothos plant isn’t getting enough light. If your plant is in a dark corner, this might be the issue! A lack of light can also exacerbate overwatering because sunlight allows plants to use water more efficiently, so fixing the light situation could improve multiple problems.

Another possible cause of yellowing is an imbalance of nutrients. If your light, water, and drainage situation seems to be in order but you have had your pothos plant for a while without fertilizing, it might be time to start. I love Indoor Plant Food for nearly all of my houseplants, including my pothos. It’s gentle enough to use with each watering, so I don’t even have to remember a fertilization schedule! 

Browning

Like yellowing, browning leaves can also have many causes. But we can use certain clues to reveal the root issue (pun intended).

Brown spots can be caused by both over- and underwatering. As a general rule, if the spots are lighter and crispier, underwatering is usually the culprit, but make sure to check the soil to confirm.

If the spots are darker and softer, overwatering is more likely the problem. This is especially true if the stems are also browning, if the soil is damp, or if lighting or drainage is poor.

If your pothos plant is in direct sunlight, this can also scorch the leaves and cause them to turn brown. So that’s another thing to watch for!

Another possible culprit, especially if just the tips of the leaves are turning brown and crisp, is from chemicals like chlorine in tap water. You may want to start leaving your plant’s water out to sit for at least 8 hours to let these chemicals dissipate or switch to distilled water or rainwater.

Black Spots

Black spots can be a sign of overwatering and root rot or extremely low temperatures. If the black spots appear suddenly or on a certain area of the plant, make sure that your pothos plant isn’t near a draft from a window or vent.

If the black spots appear gradually and continue to spread, you may want to remove part or all of the plant to check the roots. If the roots are black, soft, or smelly, you might have a root rot situation! If that’s the case, rinse the soil from the roots, trim off any rotten areas, repot the plant in fresh soil, and use our Root Supplement when you water to help the roots heal. Make sure your pot and soil drain well and that your plant receives sufficient light. Water when the top half to quarter of the soil is dry.

Read our full guide to watering pothos plants here!

Drooping

Many plants, including your pothos plants, will droop when they’re thirsty due to a lack of turgor pressure. If you notice your pothos plant drooping and the soil feels dry, give it a drink! It should perk up within a few hours.

Insects

Pothos plants aren’t particularly prone to pests, but they can sometimes become infected with mealybugs, spider mites, or other insects.

Our Leaf Armor can help protect leaves from pests, dust, bacteria, and debris, but what do you do if you already have an infestation?

Neem oil-based products are a good way to treat most indoor pests infestations. For mealybugs and other forms of scale, you can use a little rubbing alcohol on a cotton swab to kill and remove them. Spider mites can also be removed with a good shower from a kitchen faucet or hose. 

In general, it’s also a good idea to make sure your plant gets plenty of light and the right amount of water since many pests are attracted to dark, damp conditions.

Little to No Variegation (for variegated varieties)

If you have a variegated pothos variety like golden pothos or Marble Queen but you aren’t seeing much variegation, it’s likely because your plant isn’t getting enough light. Variegated plants produce less chlorophyll, the chemical that gives plants their green color, which means they have to work harder to photosynthesize. If they don’t have enough sunlight from which to make energy, they will produce more chlorophyll and appear more green instead of variegated.

So help them out and give them as much indirect sunlight as you can without putting them in direct sunlight, where the leaves can scorch.

While pothos plants can sometimes develop issues, the good news is that these plants are very resilient and hard to kill completely. We hope this pothos troubleshooting guide helped you discover what may be the culprit to your pothos problem. You may lose a few leaves here and there, but once you correct the issue, your pothos will recover quickly and start growing new leaves in no time! This is just one reason why they’re such classic houseplants and perfect for beginners. 

Want to learn more about caring for pothos plants? Check out our guide for beginners here! Do you have any tips for pothos troubleshooting? Leave a comment below!