Pothos Leaves: 15 Common Problems (Turning Colors, Drooping, Wet, & More)

One of the main reasons pothos enjoys such great popularity is the fact its leaves come in a wide range of shapes, colors, and patterns. But pothos plants also use their leaves to communicate their needs to us. 

You’ve probably wondered: why does my pothos look sad? What does it mean when pothos leaves turn yellow? Why is my variegated pothos turning green? And is it normal if the leaves are dripping water?

Read on to find the answer to the 15 most common pothos leaves questions. 

1.) Why Are My Pothos Leaves Turning Yellow?

pothos leaves turning yellow and with leaf spot

Yellowing leaves are a widespread problem for pothos plants. Usually, this is caused by watering issues, such as giving your pothos too much or too little water. However, it could also indicate that your pothos needs more light or nutrients or that you must repot it.

In severe cases, leaves turning yellow could be a sign of pest infestations or even the start of root rot. 

And in some cases, pothos leaves turning yellow is just a natural part of the plant’s growth cycle and nothing for you to worry about.

How To Fix It (Adjust Watering)

How you fix yellow pothos leaves depends entirely on what is causing the problem. For example, if it’s the result of underwatering or overwatering, you will need to adjust your watering schedule and the type of soil you use.

Find out more about how to diagnose the cause of yellowing leaves in your pothos plant and how to fix it.

2.) Why Are My Pothos Leaves Turning Brown?

Pothos leaves turn brown for a wide range of reasons. They can signify over or underwatering, fungal or bacterial diseases, pests, light, humidity, and fertilizer-related issues.

The symptoms can vary depending on the factors causing them, from brown, crispy edges to rusty-brown spots and soft, necrotic blemishes. 

How To Fix It (Determine Source)

Given the fact that many factors cause brown pothos leaves, it’s important to identify the source of the problem. 

Read our in-depth guide to pothos leaves turning brown for more information on causes and fixes. 

3.) Why Are My Pothos Leaves Turning Black?

Pothos leaves can turn black as a result of fungal or bacterial infections. Several organisms can cause this problem, and the symptoms will vary accordingly. For example, if your pothos leaves have black spots, this can be a sign of either bacterial leaf spot or root rot. 

Most fungal and bacterial diseases are caused by growing pothos in the wrong conditions. For example, the combination of high humidity and poor airflow, or too much water and poorly draining soil, will weaken the plant and make it more susceptible to infections. 

How To Fix It (Before It’s Too Late)

Depending on what is causing black leaves on your pothos, you may or may not be able to fix the problem.

Bacterial wilt and bacterial leaf spot have no cure, so your only option is to throw the plant away. But if you’re dealing with root rot, it is possible to save your pothos if the damage is not too severe.

Check out the two guides above on yellowing or brown leaves for more details on diagnosing and potentially fixing black pothos leaves.  

4.) Why Is My Pothos Turning White?

The most common cause for pothos leaves turning white is too much light. If your pothos is sitting too close to the window or if it’s exposed to the intense midday sun, the leaves will develop a bleached, pale color. 

In some cases, white leaves are also caused by low temperatures. This can be problematic if you keep your pothos plant outdoors in cooler climates.

Prolonged exposure to temperatures below 59°F (15°C) will shock the plant, causing the leaves to go limp and pale yellow or white. In temperatures below 50°F (10°C), the roots can suffer permanent damage, and the plant will die.

Of course, white leaves can be regular if you have variegated pothos, such as a Snow Queen or a Manjula. Also, remember that pothos plants have a natural tendency to produce mutations, which is how most cultivars come into existence.

snow queen pothos plant leaf

Golden Pothos, for example, can sometimes display sport variegation and leaves with white, cream, pale green, or yellow patches.  

How To Fix It (Light & Temperature)

To prevent white leaves on your pothos, ensure you’re providing it with the right amount of light and temperature.

Keep the plant in bright indirect light, and avoid direct sunlight exposure during the hottest parts of the day. In terms of temperature, the ideal range for pothos is between 70°F and 90°F (21°C to 32°C). Anything below 59°F (15°C) can harm your plant.  

5.) Why Is My Pothos Droopy? 

If your pothos looks a bit limp or wilted, this is usually a sign that the plant is thirsty. Low temperatures, low humidity, and sun stress will also make the plant droop.

You may also notice your pothos going limp after repotting or bringing it home for the first time, as the plant takes a while to adjust to its new growing conditions. 

How To Fix It (Hydrate)

Water your pothos when the top 2 inches (5 cm) of the soil feel dry to the touch. Give the soil a thorough soak until the water drips through the drainage holes.

Provide it with bright indirect light, keep humidity levels above 40%, and ensure you never keep the plant in temperatures below 64°F (18°C). 

If you just brought a pothos plant home, always wait at least two weeks before repotting it, so the plant has time to acclimatize. 

6.) Why Are My Pothos Leaves Curling?

Pothos leaves will start to curl when the plant is thirsty. This happens because the plant is trying to preserve water. By rolling or curling its leaves, the plant reduces the leaf surface, reducing evaporation and water loss through the foliage. 

However, if your pothos has yellow, curling leaves, this can indicate pest damage. Unfurl the leaves with your fingers to check. You’re dealing with spider mites if you can see small, white spots and thin webs. 

How To Fix It (Water & Look for Mites)

The fastest way to fix curling leaves is to give your pothos a deep, thorough watering. 

If you found spider mites, mix a solution of 4 parts water and 1 part medicinal alcohol. Wipe the leaves with the solution, then continue spraying them once every 5 – 7 days for a whole month.

If the leaves are badly infested, with more yellow than green, it’s best to cut them off. 

7.) Why Is My Pothos Dropping Leaves?

Pothos are tough plants but don’t like drastic changes to their growing environment. If your pothos is suddenly dropping leaves, this indicates that the plant has been exposed to hot or cold drafts.

Pothos will also start losing leaves if exposed to very low humidity, if it’s underwatered, if pests or diseases stress it, or if it simply needs a bigger pot.  

How To Fix It (Avoid Stress)

Avoid stressing your pothos by drastically changing its growing conditions. Don’t let the plant go thirsty for too long; keep an eye out for pests and diseases. In winter, keep it away from drafty windows and doors, as well as radiators and heating vents.

Also, remember to repot your pothos once every 2 – 3 years, or when you can see the roots come out of the pot. 

8.) Why Is My Pothos Not Growing Leaves?

There are three main reasons for pothos growing bare stems:

  • Low light
  • Insufficient nutrients
  • Lack of something to climb on

Light plays a crucial role in pothos growth and the amount of fertilizers it needs. For example, if your pothos is growing in low light conditions, it will have a slower growth rate. But if you give it too much fertilizer without increasing the amount of light, the plant will grow long, leggy stems with no leaves.

How To Fix It (Several Methods)

You can use several methods to fix a pothos plant with bare stems. The first one is knowing how to keep a pothos from growing leggy.  

You can also try to give the plant a fuller look — find out how to make your pothos look bushier.

Alternatively, you can make your pothos grow more stems on the same vine. Check out these two excellent methods.

9.) Why Are My Pothos Leaves So Small?

There are many causes for pothos growing smaller leaves, such as:

  • Lack of nutrients
  • Low light
  • Not enough water
  • The plant needs a bigger pot

But if your pothos is not suffering from any of the above, it could just mean it needs something to climb on. Pothos love climbing, and the leaves will start getting smaller if the plant is left to hang or trail for several years.

This is most noticeable in Scindapsus pictus and Epipremnum pinnatum cultivars.  

How To Fix It (Feed, Water, Climb)

To prevent small leaves on your pothos plant, you’ll need to fertilize it regularly. Apply a liquid fertilizer for foliage plants from early spring until mid to late fall. Don’t forget about regular watering and providing the plant with bright indirect light. 

Lastly, give your pothos something to climb on, such as a trellis, coir, or moss pole. As the pothos climbs, it will start growing bigger leaves and may even develop fenestrations.

10.) Why Are There Holes in My Pothos Leaves?

Pothos leaves can develop holes for several reasons. If you’re lucky, they’re just scars resulting from damage to the leaf before it finished unfurling. However, your pet may have been chewing the leaves if you have a cat or a dog. Worst case scenario, they’re caused by pests such as leaf miners (Liriomyza) or, if your pothos is living outside, by caterpillars and leafcutter bees.

How To Fix It (Determine the Pest)

If pests cause the holes in your pothos leaves, you’ll need to treat them accordingly. 

For leaf miners, the best solution is to cut the infested leaves. But unfortunately, these pests live inside the leaf tissue, rarely responding to insecticidal treatment. 

For caterpillars, pick them by hand and drown them in a bucket of soapy water.

Leafcutting bees are a bit tricky. They play an essential role as pollinators, so you shouldn’t kill them. But you can discourage them from eating your pothos by planting “sacrificial crops” such as basil or nasturtiums, which they love. 

11.) Why Are My Pothos Leaves Splitting?

You may notice split leaves on your pothos plant on two occasions:

  • When the new leaves are unfurling
  • On mature pothos leaves

If the pothos leaves are splitting as they unfurl, this is a sign of low humidity or insufficient water. 

The leaves can tear or split on mature plants due to mechanical damage. For example, maybe a child or a pet has been playing with the plant and broke some of the leaves. Or it could be a sign that the leaves are starting to fenestrate.

As pothos leaves mature, they will develop Monstera-like splits, which is entirely normal. 

How To Fix It (Proper Moisture)

To prevent young pothos leaves from splitting as they unfurl, water the plant regularly and never let the humidity drop below 40%.

Avoid misting the leaves, though, as this can result in fungal or bacterial diseases. Instead, keep the pot on a pebble tray half-filled with water.

To prevent tears and splits on mature leaves, keep your pothos where pets and children can’t reach them. Also, keep in mind that pothos leaves and stems are toxic and can cause gastrointestinal problems if ingested.  

12.) Why Are My Pothos Leaves Wet?

Pothos leaves drip water occasionally, from either the sides or the leaf tip. You may notice this a day or so after watering your plant, during the night, or in very humid conditions. This process is called guttation, and the plant uses it to eliminate excess water in the leaf tissue. Think of it as sweating.  

How To Fix It (Just Enjoy)

Guttation is a normal process, so there’s nothing to fix. However, if you notice water droplets on your pothos leaves, your plant is healthy and happy. 

13.) Why Are My Pothos Leaves Soft?

Pothos leaves will turn soft and limp if the plant is underwatered. However, if you find soft, brown spots on the leaves, this is a sign of bacterial infection.  

How To Fix It (Water & Hope Not Bacterial)

Give your pothos a good soak, and the soft leaves will perk up again. 

Unfortunately, bacterial infections don’t have a cure, so your pothos is doomed. Throw away the plant to prevent the spread of disease. 

14.) Why Is My Pothos Losing Variegation?

Variegated pothos cultivars will start turning green if they don’t get enough light. In low light conditions, plants will begin producing more chlorophyll, a pigment needed for photosynthesis. This helps plants produce their own food and stay alive, but on the downside, it makes them lose their leaf patterns.

How To Fix It (Lighting)

The best way to make pothos more variegated is to give it bright indirect light. Keep it in a room with eastern or western exposure, about 3 – 4 feet away from the window. Be careful with direct sunlight, though.

Pothos will tolerate a couple of hours of direct sun in the morning, but the intense midday sun will scorch the leaves.  

If your variegated pothos has reverted to all-green leaves, the best solution is to trim the plant. First, cut the stem above the last variegated leaf. Move the plant to a brighter location, and the new leaves will start displaying variegation.

15.) Why Is My Pothos Not Trailing?

If you realize that your pothos is growing very slowly and not trailing, this is a sign of stunted growth. There are many reasons for this, such as:

  • Not enough light
  • Not enough water
  • Lack of nutrients
  • The plant needs a bigger pot
  • Temperatures are too hot (over 90°F / 32°C) or too cold (below 59°F / 15°C)
  • Pests and diseases

Sometimes, it also means that your pothos is still too young. The plant can take several months before it starts trailing or hanging over the edges of the pot. And if you’re growing pothos from single-node cuttings, you may need to wait up to 12 months before the plants start trailing. 

How To Fix It (Growing Conditions)

Pothos has a fast growth rate, so if you provide it with the right growing conditions, it will start trailing in no time. Remember these essential care tips:

  • Bright indirect light
  • Well-draining soil
  • Water when the top 2 inches of the soil feel dry to the touch 
  • Keep humidity above 50%
  • Fertilize every 1 -2 months with a liquid fertilizer for foliage plants
  • Prune regularly to maintain shape and improve airflow
  • Repot once 2 – 3 years or when the roots start coming out of the pot.

If your care routine ticks all those boxes, you’ll have a healthy pothos plant and fewer problems with pests and diseases.

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Davin is a jack-of-all-trades but has professional training and experience in various home and garden subjects. He leans on other experts when needed and edits and fact-checks all articles.