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Why Is My Pothos Leaves Turning Yellow?

The first step towards troubleshooting yellow leaves on your Pothos is identifying the cause. Unfortunately, the problem could be a few things, so you may need to do some detective work.


Start by looking at light levels, soil moisture, temperature, and humidity in your home. If everything looks good with those conditions, you may have an issue with pests or diseases.


Read more about common plant problems which can all, in some way, be responsible for yellow leaves. If you have cats, you'll know your Pothos is slightly toxic for them, but luckily there are enough plants that are safe for cats with which you can fill your home.

pothos yellow

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Why are my Pothos leaves turning yellow?

 

1. Wrong Lighting

Is your Pothos getting enough light? First, check the amount of natural light your plant receives. Your Pothos will thrive in bright, indirect light even though it can tolerate lower light conditions.

  • You can add an artificial grow light if there's not enough light.

On the flip side, when your Pothos plant receives too much light, its natural defense is to reduce the production of chlorophyll (which makes the plant green). Instead, it'll increase that of other pigments, such as carotene (which is yellow). This is because yellow carotene photosynthesizes better with intense UV light.

  • Move your plant out of direct sunlight into a shadier spot.

 

2. Incorrect Watering

When it comes to watering, check the soil for moisture. Your Pothos prefers slightly moist soil but not consistently wet.


Stick a finger or chopstick into the soil around the plant. If damp soil sticks to your finger or the chopstick, the soil is still wet enough. Allow the soil to dry out in between waterings.


Too much water causes damage to the cell walls of the leaves.

  • This makes the leaf tissue turn yellow.

  • The stems turn black.

Underwatering will cause the leaves to wilt. It will also reduce the photosynthetic process, turning part of its tissue yellow.


Use the same method as above to check the soil for underwatering. If your finger or the chopstick is bone dry after sticking it in the soil, your plant needs water. Give it a good drench, and make sure the water drains away to avoid root rot.


How often should you water your Pothos?

Give it a good drench once a week or once every two weeks.

Use a moisture meter to check the soil, and remove all excess water in the drip tray after watering your plant.

 

3. Nutrient Deficiencies

Too much or too little nutrients can cause leaves to turn yellow in response.

Make sure that you are fertilizing your Pothos regularly with a balanced fertilizer.


Some common nutrient deficiencies in plants include:

  • Nitrogen deficiency: The leaves turn pale green or yellow.

  • Potassium deficiency: The leaves turn yellow or brown around the edges.

  • Iron deficiency: The leaves turn yellow or appear chlorotic (yellow with green veins).

Additionally, supplementing your plant's soil with a natural fertilizer like Epsom salts can help provide it with essential magnesium and sulfur.


What happens if the plant suffers from nutrient toxicity (too much fertilizer)?

  • The leaves turn yellow.

  • The leaves burn at the edges.

 

4. Temperature Fluctuations

In nature, Pothos grow in warm and sheltered places. Bringing them into your home means temperature and humidity both affect your Pothos.


They are very susceptible to sudden changes in temperature.

  • Cold temperatures

Pothos is sensitive to cold temperatures, and exposure to temperatures below 50°F (10°C) can cause the leaves to become discolored and wilted.

To avoid cold damage, keep Pothos from cold drafts and maintain a temperature above 60°F (15°C).

  • Heat stress

While Pothos can tolerate high temperatures, exposure to temperatures above 85°F (29°C) can cause the leaves to curl, wilt, and turn brown. If the heat stress persists, the plant can become dehydrated and die.

To prevent heat stress, keep Pothos away from direct sunlight and provide adequate ventilation.


Keep your Pothos in a location between 65 and 85 degrees Fahrenheit (18-30 degrees Celcius).

 

5. Humidity Levels

To maintain a healthy humidity level for Pothos, it's recommended to keep the plant in a location with a relative humidity of around 50-60%.


In high-humidity environments, the leaves will stay plump and healthy, and the plant will be less susceptible to pests and diseases. In addition, your Pothos will grow quickly and produce more leaves, while in low-humidity environments, leaves might turn yellow, and growth can be stunted or slowed down.


If your indoor area is particularly dry:

  • Use a humidifier.

  • Group plants together to increase the humidity around the plant.

  • Place a tray of water near the plant.

It's essential to avoid exposing Pothos to cold drafts or hot, dry air, as this can cause the plant to lose moisture and dehydrate.

 

6. Pests

It is essential to consider the plant's overall health and which pests may be present. Inspect the leaves of your Pothos for any signs of pests such as webbing or insects.

The following are some examples of pests that cause yellow leaves on your Pothos.

  • Spider mites: Spider mites are tiny pests that can be difficult to see with the naked eye. You may also see webbing on the plant if the infestation is severe.

  • Mealybugs: Mealybugs are small, white, cottony-looking insects found on the plant's leaves and stems. They produce a sticky substance called honeydew that can attract ants and other pests.

  • Scale insects: Scale insects are small, round, and flat insects found on the plant's leaves and stems. Scale insects can be challenging to remove, as they have a hard, protective coating.

It's essential to act quickly when dealing with pests on Pothos, as they can quickly spread and cause further damage if left untreated.

 

7. Old leaves

If you find mature leaves near the base (not at the tips of long stems) that are evenly turning lemon-colored, they're old and are naturally dying off.


This is part of the life cycle of your plant and is nothing to worry about.


If you prune these away and the yellowing continues or notice other signs of a problem, it may be time to repot your Pothos.

 

The Bottom Line

As you can see, there are many reasons why your Pothos may be turning yellow, including underwatering, overwatering, low light, pests, or disease. Identifying the underlying cause of the yellowing leaves is crucial in order to take the appropriate steps to correct the problem. So if you notice yellowing leaves on your Pothos plant, don't despair! With a little effort and care, your plant can recover and flourish again.

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