Pothos Leaves Turning Yellow (5 Reasons & How to Fix it)

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Pothos plants are normally known for their ease of cultivation. There are many varieties and leaf colors – varying from light green, variegated white, and green to dark green leaves.

Pothos leaves turning yellow can be caused by over/under-watering, nutrient deficiencies, low light, or pests/diseases. To prevent yellowing, provide proper light, water, and nutrients, and check for signs of pests/diseases.

5 reasons why Pothos plant leaves turn yellow

There are also some varieties of Pothos with yellow leaves but if your Pothos plant normally has green leaves and now the leaves are withered yellow, something in its care routine needs to change.

1. Soil

Many plant leaves turn yellow in distress, usually caused by lack of a nitrogen deficiency in the soil.

If it is the older leaves turning yellow, this is a sure sign of nitrogen deficiency. Potassium is lacking when the leaf has yellow edges, so you need to assess the soil carefully.

Heavy soil and over fertile soil will cause your Pothos to grow too hard, making it leggy. How fertile is the soil in your pot? Is it suitable for a tropical vine plant like Pothos? See FAQs to find out what soil and fertilizer are best for Pothos.

2. Overwatering

As watering too much is another reason why Pothos leaves turn yellow, you should take a good look at the roots.

They should be white and full. However, if the roots are brown and mushy and smell foul, then you have root rot.

See how to remove damaged roots below, without causing further distress to your Pothos plant. Good drainage is essential so ensure your pot has drainage holes and they are not blocked. Is it winter or summer? Pothos plants do not need much water in winter as they are dormant.

3. Underwatering

Ironically, watering too little is another answer to this question.

Pothos plants like to be watered only when the soil has completely dried out.

Check the leaves – are they withered and dry as well as yellow? This points to an under-watered Pothos. However, also check the season. In winter, the Pothos plant is in a dormant state so needs a lot less water than it needs in summer.

4. Sunshine

Is your Pothos plant overheated in direct sunshine? It prefers indirect light and sunburnt leaves often look yellowish-brown.

5. Was your Pothos plant a cutting from another plant?

Sometimes cuttings can carry diseases such as Erwinia leaf spot, Pythium root rot, Rhizoctonia foot rot, Pseudomonas leaf spot, Southern blight, and Xanthomonas blight.

Hopefully, in your case, it is not. Now, let’s answer how to fix these problems to get your Pothos plant back to glossy green.

leafy green pothos

How to fix Yellow Pothos Leaves?

Change the soil

Pothos plants are natural climbers and they need a lot of nitrogen to grow well. Fresh soil often helps and slow-release fertilizers can provide the micronutrients they crave.

Small amounts of copper, iron, manganese, potassium, and zinc will help bring your Pothos plant back to life! Occasionally salts can build up in the pot from tap water. To avoid this, use distilled water.


The yellow leaves may occur as a result of overwatering, which leads to root rot!

So, change your watering routine so you only water when the soil is parched. You can also try adding some homemade compost, some liquid fertilizer, or re-potting the whole plant.

You must also cut off the yellowing leaves, starting at the bottom of the plant, and taking care to wipe the scissors clean each time. It will distress the plant to take them all off, cut over a period of time and allow the Pothos plant to recover gradually. As new leaves appear, remove more old yellow ones.

To combat root rot, check the roots carefully and see if they are white and healthy or brown and soft, even mushy. If roots are rotted, they smell really bad too!

  • Remove all parts of the brown root and clean your scissors or pruning secateurs between cuts to avoid spreading the damage.
  • Carefully wash the roots with tepid water.
  • Then spread the whole plant out on a table to dry out.
  • Finally, re-pot, giving the plant fresh, new compost to nourish it back to health.
  • Underwatering: If you do not water enough, you need to establish a regular watering routine now. Water your Pothos plant on a schedule (about once a week), but make sure it has time to dry out before watering again.
  • Sunshine: Pothos plants grown in low light tend to lose their color and variegation, so maybe give your plant a bit more light, without placing it in direct sunshine, which may burn its leaves. Try to mist the leaves of your Pothos occasionally to maintain humidity without having waterlogged soil.

Can yellow Pothos leaves turn green again?

The short answer is that it is very unusual.

I would advise removing them, providing you have some green foliage left. You can do this gradually, by cutting lower yellow leaves first, and then allow the plant a few weeks to recover. Discard the cut leaves.

What does an overwatered Pothos look like?

As Pothos’ problems usually originate in either too much moisture or too little, the best way to check is to feel both the soil and the leaves.

The soil should feel dry but if the texture of the soil feels like a moist chocolate cake, this is too wet.

Drainage might be adding to the problem; if this is the case, change the soil, check the roots and add some grit or sand. Next, feel the leaves; if they are light and crispy, they need water. If the leaves are soft and wilting, this is overwatering.

If you frequently overwater Pothos, the soil oxygen becomes limited. If roots cannot supply oxygen and nutrients and they are sitting in water, the roots will rot.

Should I remove yellow leaves from Pothos?

Yes. Use secateurs or sharp scissors.

You can do this over a time period so that the plant does not lose all its leaves at once. The plant is stressed so removing all the leaves could cause it to panic even more. Do not compost these damaged leaves. Trim the yellow leaves and discard them.

At the same time, it is important to remove root rot. Cut away any brown, shriveled roots carefully, discard them, and check for healthy roots. Now change the soil in the pot, and learn how to water them correctly so that the roots do not sit in wet soil.


What soil is best for Pothos?

All Pothos plants need good, fertile soil.

And if nitrogen is lacking, you will see curling happening on older leaves, which also turn yellow. Lack of potassium often displays as a leaf edge turning yellow while the inside of the leaf remains the normal, green color.

Ensure you use a fertilizer suitable for Pothos. Also, give it plenty of extra goodness with homemade compost if available, or new compost every couple of years. The drainage of the soil is another key factor because otherwise, root rot can set in.

Can Pothos clean the air in my house?

A NASA report investigating plants that could purify indoor pollutants such as formaldehyde and other toxins found in indoor air, that Pothos can remove several of these in controlled circumstances. So your Pothos plant is helping you breathe better.

Is it true that Pothos grows in both soil and water?

Yes, you can start a cutting in either water or soil.

If you start in the water and want to move it to the soil, do it as soon as the first white roots appear.

Otherwise, Pothos plants prefer to stay in the medium in which they are first grown. Water-grown pots are a sight to behold with white roots swirling in a glass vase.

Mike Smith

I love Gardening and this is my site. Here you will find some really useful plant-related tips and tricks.