Pothos leaves turning yellow is an alarming situation caused by several factors like poor soil, improper watering, overexposure to light, absence of minerals, nutrient toxicity, insects, and disease infections.

Pothos Leaves Turning Yellow

The good thing is that you can fix all of these causes easily. So stick to the end to discover these reasons and simple solutions.

What Are the Main Reasons Pothos Leaves Turn Yellow?

The main reasons leaves of a pothos plant turn yellow are improper soil, incorrect watering, and excessive lights – in addition, nutrient deficiency and toxicity can also cause leaf discoloration. In some cases, insect infestation and disease infections can also lead to the yellowing of leaves.

– Unsuitable Soil

Leaves usually turn yellow when the soil conditions are poor. Generally, soil with poor drainage is bad because the excess water stays in the pots for a long time instead of passing through. This causes water logging conditions, which leads to oxygen stress. When this happens, moisture absorption will stop, and leaves will become yellow.

In addition, pothos plants like the soil pH to be between 6.1 to 6.8. If it is above or below this range, roots won’t be able to uptake minerals from the soil even if you add more fertilizers. As a result, nutrient stress will occur, and leaves will start to discolor.

– Water Stress

Pothos plant leaves can also change their color to yellow when you don’t follow proper watering schedules. It is because water is critical for plants to stay healthy. It takes part in inner processes and also maintains the internal temperature.

So, when you don’t add water and the soil becomes bone dry, these processes will start to slow down. They will stop with time, and the whole plant will weaken. The earliest sign of weakness is yellowing leaves.

– Adding More Water Than Needed

When pothos leaves start to discolor, chances are you have overwatered the soil. Everyone knows that Pothos plants need water to stay healthy. But overapplying it can cause many problems, one of which leaves yellowing.

Note that pothos prefers moderately moist soils. As discussed above, the oxygen supply gets limited when roots stay submerged in moisture for a long time. That’s not it. The fungus also grows quickly when the soil gets wet. This can lead to fungal infections and turn the leaves light brown or yellow.

– Too Much Light

Exposure to direct sunlight can also lead to the yellowing of leaves. Pothos can tolerate temperatures up to 90 degrees Fahrenheit. If it exceeds this limit, the light intensity is higher (which pothos don’t like).

When the leaves receive high-intensity light, cells start to die. It is called sunburn or leaf scorching and is a common phenomenon in hot climate areas. Gardeners growing marble queen pothos often complain about this problem.

First, yellowish spots emerge on the outer surface of the leaves. If they keep getting more light, all you will have in the end will be Marble queen pothos yellow leaves.

– Lack of Nutrients

One of the leading reasons pothos turn yellow is nutrient stress. Plants need minerals or nutrients to perform different processes like photosynthesis. So, the lack of them impacts these processes, which leads to weaker leaves.

Causes of Pothos Leaves Turning Yellow

Generally, plants get affected by nitrogen deficiency the most. It is because this mineral takes part in the production of chlorophyll. This chlorophyll gives green color and also plays a critical role in photosynthesis. So, if nutrients are deficient, particularly nitrogen, yellow leaves will be the fate of the plants.

– Overadding Fertilizers

If you see yellow pothos after fertilization, you have overfertilized the plants. There is no denying that pothos plants need proper nutrients to maintain their leaves’ color. But if you add them in high doses, nutrient toxicity occurs.

The ones that cause yellow leaves are nitrogen and manganese toxicity. Overadding fertilizers affect plants in two ways. First, it changes the soil pH. This causes nutrient lock, which means minerals will be locked within the soil. As a result, plants will face nutrient stress.

Secondly, the toxicity of nitrogen and manganese burns the root hairs. When this happens, roots won’t be able to function properly. This will lead to water stress and nutrient deficiencies. As a result, leaves will start having yellow blotches. With time, the yellowing will spread to the whole pothos leaf and eventually shed.

– Disease Infections

Pothos leaves turning yellow and brown is also a sign of disease attacks. Both fungi and bacteria love to attack them. When it comes to fungal infections, root rot is the most common one.

In this disease, the roots start rotting, negatively impacting their performance and causing leaves to become yellow. If you don’t stop the spread, root rot can kill the entire root system. If it does, the whole plant will wilt and die.

The main bacterial disease that attacks pothos is bacterial leaf spots. It is caused by Xanthomonas campestris pv. vesicatoria, which damages the water-taking xylems. Therefore, plants infected by it face water stress too.

First, brown spots appear on the older leaves. After some time, infected parts turn brownish yellow and fall off.

– Insect Infestation

Are your pothos leaves turning yellow and curling? Then look for insect pests. They usually reside on the underside of the leaves to protect themselves from the sunlight. You can also spot them on the stem near the soil if you look carefully.

The common insects around your garden plants are spider mites, aphids, whiteflies, and thrips. These insects feed on the sap present in the leaves. Since the sap also contains chlorophyll, photosynthesis will decline. When this happens, leaves will discolor, deform, and ultimately die.

– Temperature Fluctuations

A pothos plant is sensitive to temperature fluctuations. It likes to grow in a temperature range of 70 to 90 degrees Fahrenheit. It is hard to stop leaves from yellowing if there is heat stress.

The reason is that leaves evaporate water faster in hot temperatures. So, more moisture is released on a hot day than a plant can uptake, which causes water stress. As discussed above, underwatering can lead to yellowing leaves.

Similarly, you will also see pothos leaves falling off when the temperature gets colder than 60 degrees Fahrenheit. It happens because the physiological processes can’t take place smoothly in winter. So, it’s a no-brainer that when these processes stop, leaves will find it hard to maintain their natural colors.

How To Fix Yellow Pothos Leaves?

To fix yellow pothos leaves, you should improve soil health. Balance its pH first. Then, improve the drainage by replacing the upper layer and adding compost. It would be best if you also dealt with the plants’ stresses to ensure the leaves stay green.

– Make Soil Great Again

When leaves start turning yellow, the first thing to do is to enhance soil health. First, use pH strips to know about the pH status of the soil.

Add lime or baking soda if the pH reading is less than 6.0. Mix any of them in the water and add them in controlled amounts. During the process, you should check pH to ensure it stays in the optimal range.

Similarly, if the pH exceeds 7.0, add compost or wood ash to tone it down. Follow the same application method described in the case of increasing pH. Also, sprinkle the sulfur powder directly into the soil and add water.

In addition, if the soil stays wet for a long time, it does not have good drainage properties. In this case, remove the top layer of soil carefully using a shovel. Then, add a layer of well-drained soil, compost, and rotted manure to improve drainage. Doing these two things will strengthen the soil to a great extent.

– Add Water With Care

To avoid overwatering and underwatering, apply water carefully. The best way is by checking the moisture in the soil. If water is near the root zones, let it dry, or diseases will attack.

Generally, pothos need one watering every week during spring and summer. In winter, moisture stays a little longer in the soil. So, water after every two weeks to prevent waterlogging. We suggest you use a moisture meter to determine whether the soil near the roots is moist.

– Choose the Right Spot

Pothos need indirect sunlight for about 8 hours to stay in shape and color. Therefore, you should choose those locations where this much light is possible even before sowing the seeds. But relocation is the best thing to do if you have already grown them in pots or you can simply repot your Pothos plants and move them.

– Fertilize Smartly

It would help if you always fertilized plants cleverly. We suggest you add liquid fertilizers after every three weeks to avoid nutrient stress. If you want, you can apply granular or powdered fertilizers rich in nitrogen too.

Remedies for Pothos Leaves Turning Yellow

You should follow every instruction printed on the fertilizer you purchase. After applying the nutrients, you will observe the leaves will become extra green and shiny. It is also desirable because more vegetative growth will occur when leaves turn green.

– Get Rid of Insects

When leaves turn yellow and you see insects on them, immediately apply organic insecticide repellents. Gardeners usually prefer neem oil, and we recommend it too. In addition, sulfur, baking soda, and vinegar are good choices. If the infestation keeps on growing, then go for chemical insecticides.

– Follow Plant Care Measures

To keep pothos healthy, it is super important to follow pothos care tips carefully. You should cut off infected parts with sharp scissors when bacterial or fungal diseases attack. In case of root rot, you should also dry out the soil by removing the wet layer and adding compost.

Furthermore, regularly check whether the drainage holes of pots are clogged. If any debris is stuck in them, the excess water will not pass, and fungal growth will be. You may use your finger or a thin stick to remove the clogged debris.

In addition, keep the gardening tools clean to avoid spreading any more diseases. Keeping your garden weed free is also crucial to protect the plants’ health. So, uproot them wherever you see them using your hands or a shovel.

Conclusion of Pothos Leaves Turning Yellow


All-inclusive, a pothos plant needs special care, or else its leaves can turn yellow. This article discussed every reason that can cause discoloration and how to fix them. Here are the main takeaways to revise every important point:

  • The soil should be healthy with optimal pH levels.
  • Add water and fertilizers sensibly, as both overapplying and underapplying can change the leaf color.
  • When you spot insects, use organic repellents to remove them.
  • You should follow every care tip, like de-weeding, keeping the garden clean, pruning infected parts, etc., to make sure pothos stay healthy.

Stick to all these points, and leaves will never turn yellow again!

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