How To Solve Pothos Leaf Problems: Yellowing, Browning, And Curling

Pothos is a popular and easy-to-grow houseplant known for its vibrant, trailing leaves and resilience. However, even the most resilient plants can sometimes encounter issues.

In the case of pothos, some common problems you might notice include yellowing, browning, and curling of the leaves.

Pothos leaves turning yellow due to disease

But don't worry, as a caring plant owner, there are ways to address these issues and restore your pothos plant to its former beauty.

Identifying the specific cause behind leaf problems is the key to finding the proper solution.

Common Pothos Leaf Problems

Various factors, such as insufficient light or water, disease, and pests, can contribute to some of the most common pothos problems.

Here are some of the problems you might encounter when caring for pothos:

Yellowing Leaves

Yellowing leaves on your pothos plant can be caused by several factors.

One common cause is overwatering, which can lead to root rot and prevent the plant from taking up nutrients properly.

To avoid overwatering, ensure that your plant's soil is well-draining and allow the soil to dry out between waterings.

Another possible cause for yellowing leaves is insufficient light.

Pothos plants thrive in bright, indirect light, but can also tolerate low light conditions.

However, lower light levels may cause the leaves to lose their vibrant green color and turn yellow.

To help your pothos regain its color, gradually increase the amount of indirect light it receives.

Browning Leaves

Browning leaves on your pothos may be the result of underwatering. When the soil becomes too dry, the plant's leaves may become brown and crispy.

To resolve this issue, ensure that you are watering your pothos regularly, allowing the soil to remain moist but not soggy.

Another factor contributing to browning leaves could be a lack of humidity.

Pothos plants are native to tropical environments and prefer higher humidity levels.

To increase the humidity around your pothos, you can mist the leaves regularly, place a tray of water near the plant, or use a humidifier.

Curling Leaves

Curling leaves on a pothos plant can be an indication of pests, such as mealybugs, mites, scales, or thrips.

To treat a pest infestation, first identify the type of pest present and then apply an appropriate treatment, such as insecticidal soap, neem oil, or a specific pesticide designed for the particular pest.

Temperature fluctuations can also cause curling leaves. Pothos plants prefer consistent room temperature conditions, ideally between 65-85°F (18-29°C).

Keep your plant away from drafty areas, expose it to consistent temperatures, and avoid placing it near air conditioning or heating vents.

Common Causes for Pothos Leaf Problems


Overwatering is a common issue that affects the healthy growth of your pothos plant.

When you provide too much water, it can lead to root rot and ultimately cause the leaves to yellow, brown, or curl.

To prevent this issue:

  • Feel the soil before watering. It should be slightly dry to touch.
  • Use well-draining soil to avoid water retention.
  • Empty the saucer under the pot if water accumulates after watering.

Under Watering

Under watering can also cause pothos leaves to yellow and become limp. To ensure your plant receives the proper amount of water:

  • Establish a consistent watering schedule.
  • Check the soil's moisture regularly.
  • Adjust your watering frequency based on the plant's environment (e.g., temperature, humidity).

Nutrient Deficiency

A lack of essential nutrients can cause the pothos leaves to yellow, brown, or curl.

Most commonly, pothos suffer from nitrogen, phosphorus, or potassium deficiencies.

To address this issue:

  • Use a balanced, slow-release fertilizer.
  • Feed your pothos every 6 to 8 weeks during its growing season.
  • Avoid over-fertilizing, as this can cause further damage.

Pest Infestation

Pests like mealybugs, spider mites, and scale insects can cause leaf damage and discoloration.

To identify and treat a pest infestation:

  • Inspect your pothos regularly for pests.
  • If you find pests, treat your plant with insecticidal soap or neem oil.
  • Remove severely infested leaves and dispose of them properly.


Pothos plants can also suffer from diseases that cause yellowing, browning, and curling of leaves.

Some common pothos diseases include bacterial leaf spot and root rot. To prevent and manage diseases:

  • Ensure proper watering, ventilation, and sanitation.
  • Remove and dispose of infected leaves and plants.
  • Monitor your plant's health regularly and act promptly if symptoms appear.

Ways to Prevent Pothos Leaf Problems

Follow these simple tips to ensure healthy and vibrant pothos plants in your home.

Ideal Watering Practices

To provide the right amount of water, let the top inch of soil dry out between waterings.

This typically means watering your Pothos every 1-2 weeks, depending on humidity and temperature conditions.

Be sure to use well-draining soil and a pot with drainage holes to prevent root rot from excessive moisture.

Ensuring Proper Nutrition

Pothos plants require a balanced diet of nutrients for healthy growth.

Provide your pothos with a well-balanced, water-soluble fertilizer every 4-6 weeks during the growing season.

Choose a fertilizer with an equal ratio of nitrogen (N), phosphorus (P), and potassium (K), such as a 10-10-10 or 20-20-20 formula. You can also get a pothos specific plant food.

This can help prevent issues like yellowing leaves and promote vibrant, green foliage.

Remember to follow the manufacturer's directions for the proper application rate.

Check out this professional 3-1-2 pothos plant fertilizer on Amazon.

Keeping Pests At Bay

To prevent pest infestations, regularly inspect your plant for signs of insects and remove them with a soft cloth or cotton swab dipped in alcohol.

You can also use a mild insecticidal soap or neem oil to treat pest problems.

Make sure to isolate affected plants to prevent the spread of pests to other houseplants.

Encouraging Disease-Free Growth

Diseases like bacterial leaf spot can cause water-soaked spots with yellow halos that eventually lead to browning and leaf loss.

To minimize the risk of disease, maintain proper watering practices and avoid getting the leaves wet during watering.

Prune away diseased or dead leaves to prevent the spread of pathogens, and always use clean, sterilized tools when trimming.

Additionally, ensure good air circulation around your pothos by not overcrowding your plants and periodically dusting the leaves to improve airflow.

If you're having pest problems, you can get solutions here: Managing Common Pests That Trouble Pothos Plants

Repairing Damaged Pothos Leaves

Reviving Yellowed Leaves

Yellowing leaves on your pothos plant could be due to overwatering, under-watering, or poor light conditions.

To revive these leaves, first determine the cause of yellowing.

1. Overwatering

Allow the soil to dry out between waterings by inserting your finger 2 inches into the soil. If it's damp, hold off on watering until it's dry.

2. Under-watering

Ensure your pothos gets enough water by keeping the soil consistently moist, but not soggy. Water when the top inch of soil is dry.

3. Poor Light

Move your pothos to a location where it receives bright, indirect light to avoid direct sunlight, which can cause yellowing.

Learn more about Sunlight Requirements For A Healthy Pothos.

Restoring Brown Leaves

Brown leaves, often with crispy edges, typically indicate an issue with humidity or over-fertilization.

1. Low Humidity

Increase humidity around your pothos by placing a tray filled with water and pebbles under the pot, or use a humidifier near the plant.

2. Over-fertilization

Flush the soil with water to dilute excess fertilizer and reduce the risk of leaf burn.

Refrain from fertilizing for a few weeks and then proceed with a balanced liquid houseplant fertilizer at half strength.

Reforming Curled Leaves

Curled leaves on your pothos could be due to pests or drafts.

1. Pests

Check for pests, such as spider mites or mealybugs, on the leaves and stems of your pothos.

Remove any visible pests and then treat the plant with an insecticidal soap or neem oil as directed on the product label.

2. Drafts

Ensure your pothos is not exposed to cold drafts or air from air conditioners.

If necessary, relocate your plant to a spot with consistent, comfortable temperatures.

When to Seek Professional Help

Sometimes, despite your best efforts, pothos leaf problems like yellowing, browning, and curling persist.

If you've tried addressing these issues but still notice a decline in your pothos' health, it may be time to consult plant experts.

Experts, such as horticulturists or trained garden center staff, can pinpoint the specific issues and recommend appropriate treatments to save your plant.

We hope you found this information useful in keeping the good health of your pothos!

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