Why Are My Pothos Turning Brown?

Devil’s Ivy or pothos are ubiquitously found houseplants. The resilient species can survive various temperature changes and are great plants for newbie gardeners. However, certain factors can cause pothos leaves to turn brown.

Browning of pothos can indicate several issues. Mainly it’s either the burning of leaves or the lack of juice in the leaves. Each issue has a different underlying cause and manifests in numerous ways.

If you’re observing your pothos turning brown, this article could be a lifesaver for your plants. It’s essential to note that leaves that have turned brown are unsalvageable. Hence, you’ll have to prune the plant and eliminate the brown leaves.

Regardless of the leaf loss, you can save your pothos from further browning. This article discusses the issue in depth, looking at various signs and potential causes of pothos turning brown. Keep reading to find out how to fix the issue with several treatment methods and preventive measures.

Where Are My Pothos Leaves Turning Brown From?

Before diving into the causes of the browning of pothos, it’s critical to identify where the browning is occurring. Different parts of the plant can turn brown in various locations, and each specifies a unique underlying issue. Here are some of the common ways in which the issues of pothos turning brown manifest.

Pothos Turning Brown and Yellow

Pothos leaves don’t always turn brown immediately. At times, the leaves first take up a yellow tone. This color is the first indication of distress, as pothos are known for their beautiful shades of green.

This distress mainly occurs due to sudden temperature changes. Although pothos is known for their resilience, they can’t withstand sudden temperature changes and eventually give in. Moreover, yellow leaves are the beginning of these changes. Therefore, you can save your entire plant from turning brown at this stage.

If you missed the yellow leaves, the plant gradually turned brown. This browning mainly occurs in leaves. Furthermore, you’ll also notice the leaves getting wilted or drooping as the changes occur.

Once the pothos leaves turn brown, there’s no saving the leaves. Hence, to save the rest of the plant, removing the dead leaves is essential.

Pothos Leaf Tips Turning Brown  

Apart from the entire pothos leaves turning brown and yellow, you might also notice pothos leaf tips turning brown. If that’s the case, there’s another issue in store for you to resolve.  

This effect is mainly prevalent when the roots can’t function well, i.e., soak in the water from the soil. Overwatering and underwatering both contribute to this issue. Moreover, overdoing the fertilizer amount several times can yield similar results.

Pothos Turning Brown and Dry

Are you observing your pothos turning brown and dry? Chances are you have fed these plants excessive direct sunlight. Although pothos love sunlight, they like it diffused than direct.

You’ll also notice similar changes when the temperature drops too low for pothos. The species is excellent for withstanding high temperatures. However, it perishes during consistently lower temperatures and turns brown before drying out.

New Pothos Turning Brown

If your newly bought pothos is turning brown, it’s certainly due to certain chemicals entering the plant’s water system. Since they are mainly fed tap water with various chemicals that pothos don’t appreciate, the leaves can show the signs.  

Causes of Pothos Turning Brown

Even the most adaptable plants can show distress due to changing conditions. Pothos are no different. Catching these signs at the right time can be beneficial for salvaging the plant.

Here are the common causes of pothos turning brown:

Excessive Direct Sunlight

As mentioned earlier, pothos enjoys the attention of the sun. However, they don’t prefer sunbathing. Therefore, indirect sunlight, often through diffused glass, is preferable for thriving pothos.

In contrast, the plant will immediately start turning brown when you fail to meet these conditions and leave the plant in direct sunlight, such as outdoors or near an open window. Therefore, excessive direct sunlight isn’t an ideal situation for pothos.

Low Temperature

In contrast to excessive sunlight, lower temperatures also don’t work for pothos. The plants prefer medium temperatures but can withstand high temperatures. However, lowered temperatures can send the plants into an immediate shock.

Pothos need absolute care and proper temperature settings to recover from the shock. Or else the leaves will turn brown, or spots will appear on the leaf blades.

From 70 F to 90 F, pothos tends to thrive beautifully. Any temperature lower than 70 F, and consistently at that, can severely harm the plant.

Using Tap Water

As we discussed earlier, tap water has various chemicals, such as salts and minerals, that may work fine for humans. However, for certain plants, they don’t work quite well.

Pothos aren’t too particular regarding the water they are fed. Nevertheless, at times, this issue can present itself. The minerals in tap water can adversely affect the plants and cause the browning of pothos leaves.

Overwatering Pothos

Dry, warm conditions work best for pothos. Therefore, overwatering them is a huge mistake as it can cause the pothos leaves to turn brown.

How much water your pothos need depends upon their location and size. If you’re residing in a humid region, your watering practice will differ from those observed in dry climates. Moreover, smaller plants won’t need as much water as big plants.

Excessive Fertilizers

Fertilizers mainly have a high amount of nitrogen which works for plant growth. However, overdoing it is always a major issue for most plants.

When the amount of nitrogen exceeds the optimum level, it shocks the plant. Hence, the excessive use of fertilizers will manifest the same signs as the burning of pothos due to direct sunlight. Therefore, pothos turning brown due to too much fertilizer is prevalent.

Low Draining Soil

While overwatering and fertilizers already affect pothos soil, at times, it’s the soil that causes the ruining of plants. Certain soil structures turn the overall product into a compact one. The compact soil may work for some plants, but pothos isn’t one of them.

Pothos appreciates moist soil. However, proper aeration of soil is crucial. Therefore, the plant requires good draining soil, which can absorb water and easily drain the excess.

If the soil holds up the water, it might seem like you’re overwatering it. However, that’s not always the case. Leave the plant for a few days without watering it. If the soil is still damp, it’s likely due to the soil’s structure.

Root Damage

Root damage is another prevalent issue due to the few previously mentioned mistakes. Overwatering the plant or having a low drainage soil doesn’t allow water to leave the system. Therefore, roots are forced to absorb excess water content that causes the roots to eventually rot.

The rotting roots can cause the plant to turn brownish-yellow. Moreover, the conditions of soaking and low-draining soil perfectly give rise to mold growth. This issue brings us to our next cause of pothos turning brown.

Fungal and Bacterial Diseases

Fungal and bacterial diseases are quite standard in plants. However, catching them on time is necessary for the plant’s well-being and the prevention of other plants.

Southern blight is the most prevalent fungal infection in pothos. Besides the browning of leaves, you’ll also notice white strands growing around the plant’s stem. Moreover, the damp conditions and high temperatures are ideal for fungal growth. Therefore, taking prompt action is vital as these infections propagate well.

During commercial production, pothos is also prone to contracting bacterial wilt disease. You’ll likely see the signs of this disease in the veins of leaves that turn black while the leaves wilt. To be positive, cut a stem and place it in some water. You’ll soon observe the bacteria surfacing in the water.

Pest Infestation

Every plant species has particular pests who love to infest the plant by taking over and sucking the juice out of them. Consequently, the immune system of the plants weakens, which causes them to turn brown.

The same is true for pothos, commonly home to mealybugs and scales. Mealybugs have a cottony white appearance, whereas scales are tiny bugs with an overall yellow body and a black spot in the middle. Both invaders are detrimental to the plant’s health, eventually having a single effect: pothos turning brown.

Treatment for Brown Pothos

Finding your beautiful green pothos in wilting and browning conditions can be devastating. Instead of mourning over it, quick action can save your plants from further damage. However, identifying the proper cause is essential as each treatment method focuses on a distinct problem.

When you have identified the true cause of your pothos turning brown, try out these methods to get rid of the issue:

  1. Consider moving pothos to where they can get ample sunlight without direct rays reaching the plant. A diffused window or sheet of translucent plastic can work well too.
  2. Moving your pothos to a room with optimum heat is a great decision. You can also adjust the heating conditions of the room where you have kept pothos and turn it up if the climate feels cold.
  3. Although tap water is seldom harmful to plants, it can trigger pothos to turn brown. Therefore, use distilled water instead of water pothos and observe the change. Boiled water can also have similar effects when you water plants after cooling them down.
  4. Pothos turning brown from overwatering can be saved by allowing the plant some time to dry out. You can assess whether the soil is dry or not by inserting your finger. If the soil feels damp, it still needs time to dry before you continue the watering ritual. Moreover, ensure a consistent schedule for watering your pothos to prevent the browning of leaves.
  5. While there’s no way to treat the plant from fertilizer burn, you can change your fertilizing habits to prevent the issue. Use a quality fertilizer once a month and follow the directions precisely to ensure the plant doesn’t burn.
  6. Repotting the plant is a wise option to curb the issues of pothos turning brown due to compact soil. However, you’d need a proper pot with several other items, such as broken pot pieces or pebbles layered to allow drainage and aeration. Once you have prepared the pot, fill it in with soil, and insert the plant carefully without causing stress on the roots, which can trigger shock.
  7. If the root damage is mainly due to overwatering, you can still save the plant by changing the soil and pot. Additionally, separated the mushy rotten roots and let the plant dry well before inserting them in the new soil. If the roots are extremely rotten, there may be no way to treat the plant, and it’s best to say goodbye.
  8. Bactericides and fungicides work well for treating bacterial and fungal diseases. However, you must ensure to prune the plant for damaged parts, as they can cause the disease to resurface. Moreover, getting a new pot for pothos is essential if they previously had a fungal infection, as fungus can adhere to pots and affect the plant again.
  9. Since pest infestation is a common issue, humans have come up with various chemical solutions and home remedies to fight pests. Insecticidal soap, rubbing alcohol, and neem oil are the most promising solutions. Either spray them on pothos before cleaning them or use a cotton ball for targeted cleaning.

To Sum It Up!

Pothos are known for adaptability and resilience. Moreover, these gorgeous green plants instantly uplift your home’s interior. However, pothos turning brown isn’t a good sign for the plant’s health.

There are various reasons why pothos turns brown. Each cause yields unique signs on the plant. Thus, observing the plant and identifying the cause before deciding on treatment is essential.

Once you have found the reason for pothos turning brown, treat the issue immediately. While the brown leaves aren’t salvageable, you can save the rest of the plant. It’s also essential to remember that the life of a pothos is 5-10 years. Hence, if all the treatments yield no positive results, chances are the plant has lived its life and is ready to let go. Therefore, as hard as it may seem, you must say goodbye to the plant and focus your care and attention on a new baby.