Why are my pothos leaves turning yellow

Why are my pothos leaves turning yellow?

Pothos leaves can turn yellow due to improper care, a plant disease, or pest infestation.

By improper care, we mean locating the plant in the direction of unforgiving sunlight, accidentally overwatering it, or subjecting it to intense frost or heat outside.

Thankfully, you might still be able to save your pothos leaves if this happens. Find out the cause of yellowing pothos leaves and what you can do to treat it in this simple guide!

The Basic Causes of Yellowing Pothos Leaves

The Basic Causes of Yellowing Pothos Leaves

Below are the basic causes of yellow pothos leaves:

1) It’s getting too little or too much sunlight

Though pothos is a common low-light houseplant, that doesn’t mean you can locate it anywhere where there is very low or no sunlight. Too much sun exposure is bad for it too.

  • Lack of Sunlight 

This is actually one of the most common mistakes of pothos growers. What happens is that the leaves, both on the top and bottom, turn yellow as a response to getting insufficient light.

The vine plant can also gradually droop and become more susceptible to overwatering. The reason for the latter is it needs light to use for energy to absorb water from the soil.

  • Excessive Sunlight

Lack of sunlight is an enemy of pothos plants, but so is its opposite: excessive sunlight.

When pothos gets too much sunlight, whether inside or outside the house, the leaves can get scorched badly.

A sure sign of this is the foliage will become crispy and withered besides being yellow. Whereas insufficient sunlight will cause round and yellow leaves.

Take note of where you place them. 

Are they in a spot or window that receives plenty of sunlight (like a western or south-facing window)? Or do they get no sunlight at all (maybe on an indoor alcove shelf)?

What can you do about it? Don’t worry if your pothos has yellow leaves. The sooner you discover and do something about it, the better your odds are to save it.

If light is indeed the prime suspect in making these potted plant leaves yellow, simply change the plant’s location. For instance, move it to a brighter indoor or outdoor area of your home that gets moderate to low sunlight.

Having set them in a good spot, you should begin to see fewer yellow leaves in one or two weeks.

2) It’s getting too much water

Another culprit of yellowing pothos leaves is overwatering. Overwatering makes water pool at the top of the soil, which causes the roots underneath to drown, leading to root rot or other fungal diseases.

Because of too much watering, the roots aren’t able to get enough air in order to survive. Plus, if the plant isn’t getting enough light, the water intake of the plant slows down as well.

It’s easy to detect your plant is suffering from overwatering. The signs of this are the leaves have turned yellow and plump, the soil is sodden, and the pot’s saucer overflows with water each time you hydrate the plants.

What can you do about it? If you have been watering the plant a little bit too much, reduce your watering immediately. Let it recover from the stress.

Remember, watering should only be done when the top few inches of the soil are dry. Doing that every one to two weeks is ideal.

However, if you’ve already overwatered the plant and many yellow leaves have developed, your best bet would be to repot the entire plant. 

To repot your pothos plant, follow these steps:

  1. Gently remove the plant from its pot.
  1. Get a new pot with drainage holes on it.

Note: the pot must be a few inches larger than the root ball of the pothos to give them space to grow.

  1. Fill the pot with an inch or two of a pothos potting mix.
  1. Place the pothos in the soil.
  1. Fill the sides with soil with about 2 inches of space on top.
  1. Water the plant deeply to establish it in its new home.

3) It’s getting too little water

Pothos leaves may also be yellow if it’s been deprived of water resulting from dry spells or forgetting to water or mist them.

The outward signs of underwatering these plants are slightly curling or dropping leaves. These immediately tell you that they’re already thirsty.

Yellowing pothos leaves are a worse sign that they’re drying and weakening, so you have to do something about it soon.

What can you do about it? A minor lack of watering is easy to fix. You just need to stay consistent with your watering routine; one to two times every week should do.  

If, however, your pothos endured underwatering for quite a while, you can soak it in water to help it recover and pop back from the setback. Here’s how:

  1. Place the struggling plant in a bathroom or laundry sink.
  1. Fill the sink with 2 to 4 inches of water depending on the plant’s size.
  1. Place the potted plant in the water. Let it drink from its roots and soil for at least 30 minutes.
  1. Let it rest as the water trickles out of the pot’s drainage holes.
  1. Return the plant to its saucer. If the saucer fills with water, let the plant drain a little longer to guard against root and mold damage.

4) It’s not getting the correct nutrients

To flourish, pothos plants also need to be given the right nutrients in the correct amount. They can get nutrients through organic soil and high-quality fertilizer.

Plants can exhibit yellow leaves if they don’t get enough of them. Among them are the macronutrients nitrogen, phosphorus, and potassium and the micronutrient iron.

Nitrogen promotes healthy and green leaves of the pothos, phosphorus strengthens its shoots and roots as well as winter hardiness, and potassium promotes its normal functioning.

On the other hand, iron helps to move oxygen throughout the plant. This particular nutrient is responsible for the plant’s verdant color.

What’s more, this micronutrient assists with the plant’s enzyme functions so that it will grow at its very best.

What are the signs of nutrient deficiency in pothos plants?

Like the other causes we have mentioned, nutrient-deficient pothos will have yellowing leaves.

Depending on what mineral it is lacking, the yellowing areas and patterns on the leaves will differ.

For example, if the whole pothos leaves have turned yellow except for their stems and veins, it’s an indicator of manganese, zinc, and iron shortage.

Also, a lack of nitrogen shows in the yellowing of the underside of the leaves. In contrast, the lack of sulfur reflects in the top part of the leaves becoming yellow.

What can you do about it? Apply fertilizer to your pothos plant two or three times during its growing season in spring and summer.

As for what to use, an iron-fortified fertilizer mixed with Epsom salt for magnesium would be great for them. It will help them to grow green and lively foliage.

By the way, you can purchase good pothos fertilizers from garden stores, nurseries, and florists near where you live.

5) It’s being harmed by pests

Even though pothos is a relatively tough plant, a list of pests can still mercilessly and fatally attack the pothos plant and cause its leaves to become yellow. 

The most common insects for it are tiny mealybugs and spider mites. Mealybugs live and consume the plant’s tissues, and spider mites do the same and leave sticky webs in their path.

But aphids, thrips, whiteflies, and scales can also severely harm your plant and are just as dangerous and irritating. They can cause the plant and its leaves to limp, yellow, wilt, and soon, die.

What can you do about it? When you’ve discovered that a pest infestation on your pothos is taking place, quickly separate the plants from the others if they’re too close to each other to prevent the spreading of insects and disease.

Spray off the lethal critters with water, neem oil, or organic insecticide to kill them for good. 

Bear in mind, however, that if the infestation is severe, it may be better to dispose of the entire affected plant because it can’t live anymore and the pests can jump on the other nearby flora.

6) It’s afflicted with plant disease 

There are three main diseases that can harm or kill your pothos. They are southern blight, bacterial wilt, and the infamous Phytophthora root rot.

Let’s take a look at each of them:

Southern Blight

Named after its prevalence in warm southern climates, southern blight is one of the most fatal illnesses that can strike a plant.

It’s caused by the fungus Sclerotium rolfsii. It grows speedily in soaked-through soil and warm conditions.

The signs of this disease are yellowing, discoloration, and wilting lower leaves. That’s not all—white fungal fibers may also spread through the soil and wrap around the stem of the pothos.

But what happens within the plant is even worse. These white fungal hairs also produce toxic enzymes that break down their cell walls, which can cause their death.

What can you do about it? For pothos afflicted with southern blight, there are plenty of treatment options. You can either subject the plant to heat, add compost to the soil, or use fertilizer or fungicide.

Bacterial Wilt

This dreadful disease is instigated by the bacteria Ralstonia solanacearum. It causes the pothos to wilt and/or yellow and its stem or leaf veins to blacken.

Creepy fact: If you put an infected stem or leaves in a container filled with water, you can find it teeming with millions of bacteria.

What can you do about it? Concerning bacterial wilt, the best thing to do is to first test the plant if it is affected. To do this, cut out the affected stems and place them in a clear vase and let the milky substance flow out of them.

For those that are heavily infested, dispose of the stem or the whole plant immediately including the pot vessel and soil. But first, make sure to bag everything so that the bacteria won’t spread to other places or tools.

Phytophthora Root Rot

It’s the most common ailment that affects pothos plants. One of the signs of this root rot is root damage accompanied by yellowing and shriveled leaves.

It’s usually introduced via propagative cuttings bought commercially. The infection starts from the roots, goes toward the leaves, and then to the rest of the pothos plant.

What can you do about it? You would basically have to repot the plant. Follow these directions to do this:

  1.  Sterilize a pair of scissors with 9 parts bleach and 1 part water.
  1.  Snip off the yellow leaves.
  1. Take out the plant to unveil the roots.
  1. Cut off the root parts that are brown and pulpy.
  1. Clean the pot.
  1. Rinse off the roots.
  1. Fill the pot with a new pothos potting mix.
  1. Take care of the pothos plant like normal, and let it acclimate.

Should I always worry about my pothos having yellow leaves?

Should I always worry about my pothos having yellow leaves

You should not always worry about your pothos plants if they produce yellow leaves. It can just be a result of aging rather than improper care, so it’s perfectly natural.

When the pothos ages, only one or two of its leaves, found at the lower part of the plant (as newer ones grow on top), will turn yellow and shed off.

If this happens to your plant and mars its appearance, you can just cut out the yellow leaf. A new and better one should grow in its place.

Aside from that, we’d also like to specify that the Marble Queen pothos naturally has yellow areas or marks on their leaves. This is completely normal and is, in fact, nice and what distinguishes it from other pothos species.

How should I take care of my pothos plant?

How should I take care of my pothos plant

Taking care of the Devil’s Ivy isn’t hard as it seems. You might think you have to do a lot for it at the start, but it gets easier once you get familiar with it.

Here are its basic needs in summary:

  • Place it somewhere with bright filtered sun.
  • Water it only until moist.
  • Use a pot with drainage holes.
  • Give it a well-balanced fertilizer.
  • Keep it in a warm place between 70℉ and 90℉. 
  • And since it likes staying moist, locate it indoors or outdoors with 60 to 70 percent relative humidity. You can also use a humidifier to achieve this moisture level.

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