Why Are Pothos Plant Leaves Turning Brown? Expert Advice for Gardeners

Overview of pothos plants and their popularity

Pothos plants, with their vibrant green leaves and trailing vines, have become a beloved choice among indoor gardeners. These low-maintenance plants are not only aesthetically pleasing but also known for their air-purifying qualities, making them a popular addition to homes, offices, and other indoor spaces.

Pothos plants, scientifically known as Epipremnum aureum, are native to the Solomon Islands in the South Pacific. They belong to the Araceae family, which includes other popular houseplants such as philodendrons and peace lilies. Pothos plants are often adorned with heart-shaped or oval leaves that display a beautiful variegation, featuring shades of green, yellow, and white.

One of the reasons for the widespread popularity of pothos plants is their ability to thrive in a variety of conditions. They can tolerate low light environments, making them an excellent choice for offices or rooms with limited natural light. Additionally, pothos plants are known for their resilience, as they can withstand periods of neglect and still bounce back with minimal care.

Another appealing aspect of pothos plants is their versatility. They can be grown in various settings, including hanging baskets, terrariums, or as climbers on moss poles. Their trailing vines also make them an excellent choice for adding a touch of greenery to shelves, mantels, or bookcases.

In this comprehensive article, we will delve into the common causes of pothos plant leaves turning brown, discuss how to diagnose and address the issue, and provide useful tips for prevention and maintenance. By the end of this article, you will be equipped with the knowledge and tools to keep your pothos plants thriving and their leaves vibrant and healthy. So let’s dive in and unravel the mysteries behind browning pothos leaves!

Common Causes of Pothos Plant Leaves Turning Brown

Pothos plants are beloved by many gardeners for their lush green leaves and ability to thrive in various conditions. However, it can be quite disheartening when those vibrant leaves start to turn brown. There are several common causes for this phenomenon, each of which can be addressed with the right knowledge and care.

Overwatering is one of the most frequent culprits behind brown pothos leaves. While these plants do enjoy a good drink, excessive watering can lead to root rot and poor oxygen circulation in the soil. As a result, the leaves may turn brown and appear wilted. It is important to strike a balance and ensure that the soil is moist but not waterlogged.

On the flip side, underwatering can also cause browning leaves. When pothos plants don’t receive enough water, their leaves can become dehydrated and dry out, resulting in a brown, crispy appearance. To avoid this, it is crucial to regularly check the moisture level of the soil and water the plant when it becomes dry.

Another factor to consider is inadequate lighting. Pothos plants thrive in bright, indirect light, and insufficient light exposure can lead to the browning of leaves. If your pothos is placed in a dimly lit area, it may be necessary to move it to a spot with better lighting or provide supplemental light using artificial grow lights.

Temperature extremes can also impact the health of pothos plants. Exposure to extreme cold or heat can cause leaf browning. Pothos plants prefer moderate temperatures between 65 and 85 degrees Fahrenheit (18 to 29 degrees Celsius). Avoid placing them near drafty windows, air conditioning vents, or radiators, as these can create temperature fluctuations that stress the plant.

Nutrient deficiencies can manifest as brown leaves in pothos plants. If the plant is not receiving adequate nutrients, it may struggle to maintain its vibrant green color. Regularly fertilizing the plant with a balanced houseplant fertilizer can help prevent nutrient deficiencies and promote healthy leaf growth.

Lastly, pest infestations can cause pothos leaves to turn brown. Common pests that affect pothos plants include spider mites, mealybugs, and aphids. These pests feed on the plant’s sap, causing damage to the leaves. Regularly inspect your pothos for signs of pests, such as webbing, tiny insects, or sticky residue on the leaves. If pests are present, take appropriate measures to eliminate them, such as using insecticidal soap or neem oil.

Understanding the common causes of brown pothos leaves is the first step towards restoring the plant’s health and beauty. In the next section, we will delve deeper into how to diagnose the problem and provide effective remedies to bring your pothos back to its vibrant green glory.

Continue reading: Diagnosing the Problem

Diagnosing the Problem

When it comes to understanding why your pothos plant leaves are turning brown, diagnosing the problem requires a keen eye and a methodical approach. By examining the leaves, checking soil moisture, and assessing lighting conditions, you can gain valuable insights into what might be causing the browning and take appropriate action.

Examining the Leaves

The first step in diagnosing the problem is to carefully examine the leaves of your pothos plant. Look for any discoloration, brown spots, or dryness on the leaves. Pay attention to the location of the browning. Are the tips of the leaves turning brown? Or is the browning occurring along the edges or in the center of the leaves? Take note of any patterns or similarities among the affected leaves. This information can help pinpoint the potential cause of the problem.

Checking Soil Moisture

The next aspect to consider is the moisture level in the soil. Insert your finger about an inch into the soil to determine if it is too dry or too wet. If the soil feels dry, it could indicate that your pothos plant is not receiving enough water, leading to dehydration and brown leaves. On the other hand, if the soil feels excessively wet, overwatering may be the culprit behind the browning leaves. Proper soil moisture is crucial for the health of your pothos plant, so finding the right balance is essential.

Assessing Lighting Conditions

In addition to examining the leaves and checking soil moisture, assessing the lighting conditions is vital for diagnosing the problem. Pothos plants thrive in bright, indirect light, but they can also tolerate lower light conditions. If your pothos plant is receiving too much direct sunlight, the leaves may scorch and turn brown. Conversely, if the plant is placed in a spot with insufficient light, the leaves may become pale and develop brown patches. Finding the right balance of light exposure is crucial for maintaining healthy, vibrant foliage.

By carefully examining the leaves, checking soil moisture, and assessing lighting conditions, you can gather valuable information to help diagnose why your pothos plant leaves are turning brown. Armed with this knowledge, you can proceed confidently to the next step: implementing the appropriate remedies to restore your pothos plant to its full glory.

For more information on how to care for pothos plants, you can refer to our detailed guide on pothos plant care.

Remedies for Brown Pothos Leaves

When you notice your beloved pothos plant’s leaves turning brown, it’s a sign that something is amiss. But fear not, there are several remedies you can try to restore your plant’s vibrant green foliage. Let’s explore some effective solutions to help your pothos thrive once again.

Adjusting Watering Practices

One of the most common reasons for brown pothos leaves is improper watering. Overwatering can lead to root rot and suffocate the plant, while underwatering can cause dehydration and leaf discoloration. To remedy this issue, it’s crucial to find the right balance.

Start by checking the moisture level in the soil. Stick your finger about an inch deep into the soil. If it feels dry, it’s time to water your pothos. On the other hand, if the soil feels damp, hold off on watering. Remember, it’s always better to slightly underwater than to overwater your pothos.

Another useful tip is to ensure proper drainage. If your pothos is sitting in a pot without drainage holes, the excess water has nowhere to go, leading to waterlogged roots. Consider repotting your plant in a container with drainage holes or adding a layer of gravel at the bottom of the pot to enhance drainage.

Providing Adequate Lighting

Insufficient lighting can also contribute to brown leaves in pothos plants. Pothos thrive in bright, indirect light, and lack of exposure to adequate light can result in poor leaf health. To remedy this, find a well-lit spot in your home where your pothos can receive bright, indirect sunlight.

If your pothos is located in an area with low light conditions, consider placing it near a window or using artificial grow lights. Be cautious not to expose your pothos to direct sunlight for extended periods, as this can scorch the leaves. Striking the right balance of light exposure will help your pothos regain its lush green color.

Temperature and Humidity Control

Extreme temperature fluctuations can stress your pothos plant, leading to browning leaves. Pothos plants prefer a temperature range between 65°F and 85°F (18°C to 29°C). Exposure to temperatures outside of this range can cause leaf discoloration.

To remedy this issue, ensure that your pothos is situated in an area with stable temperatures. Avoid placing it near drafty windows or heating/cooling vents. Additionally, maintaining moderate humidity levels will benefit your pothos. If the air in your home is dry, you can increase humidity by using a humidifier or placing a tray of water near the plant.

Nutrient Supplements

Brown leaves can also be a sign of nutrient deficiencies in your pothos plant. Fertilizing your pothos regularly with a balanced houseplant fertilizer will help ensure it receives the necessary nutrients to thrive. Choose a fertilizer specifically formulated for indoor plants and follow the recommended dosage instructions.

When applying the fertilizer, be careful not to overdo it. Over-fertilization can lead to nutrient burn, causing brown spots on the leaves. Strike the right balance by fertilizing your pothos every 4-6 weeks during the growing season and reducing frequency during the dormant period.

Pest Management

Pests can wreak havoc on your pothos, causing brown spots and damage to the leaves. Common pests that may infest your pothos include spider mites, mealybugs, and aphids. Regularly inspect your plant for signs of pests, such as webs, sticky residue, or tiny crawling insects.

If you notice any pests, take immediate action to control their population. You can try wiping the leaves with a damp cloth to remove pests manually. Alternatively, you can use organic insecticidal soap or neem oil to combat the infestation.

Remember, prevention is key when it comes to pest management. Keep your pothos plant healthy and strong by following proper care practices, and it will be more resilient against potential pest attacks.

By implementing these remedies and giving your pothos the care it needs, you can help restore its beauty and prevent further browning of the leaves. With a little love and attention, your pothos will once again grace your home with its lush, vibrant foliage.

Prevention and Maintenance Tips

Taking proactive measures to prevent and maintain the health of your pothos plants is crucial for their longevity and vibrancy. By following these tips, you can ensure that your plants thrive and continue to beautify your space.

Proper Watering Techniques

One of the most important aspects of pothos plant care is mastering the art of proper watering. Overwatering can lead to root rot and brown leaves, while underwatering can cause dehydration and crispy foliage. To strike the right balance, it’s essential to understand the watering needs of your pothos plants.

Before watering, check the moisture level of the soil by inserting your finger into the top inch. If it feels dry, it’s time to water your plant. However, if it still feels moist, hold off on watering for a few more days. Remember, it’s better to err on the side of caution and slightly underwater your pothos than to drown them with excess water.

Additionally, choose the right pot for your pothos plant. A pot with drainage holes allows excess water to escape, preventing waterlogging and maintaining the ideal level of moisture. If you prefer to keep your pothos in a decorative pot without drainage holes, make sure to be extra cautious and avoid overwatering.

Ideal Lighting Conditions

Providing adequate lighting is crucial for the health and vitality of your pothos plants. These green beauties thrive in bright, indirect light. Placing them near a window where they receive filtered sunlight is ideal. However, be mindful of direct sunlight, as it can scorch the leaves and cause them to turn yellow or brown. If natural light is limited in your space, you can also use fluorescent or LED grow lights to supplement the lighting requirements of your pothos plants.

Regular Fertilization

To keep your pothos plants happy and nourished, regular fertilization is key. Fertilize your plants every four to six weeks during the growing season, which typically spans from spring to early fall. Choose a balanced, water-soluble fertilizer and dilute it according to the instructions on the package. Applying a diluted fertilizer ensures that your pothos plants receive the necessary nutrients without the risk of fertilizer burn.

Inspecting for Pests

Just like any other plant, pothos plants can fall victim to pesky pests. Regularly inspect your plants for signs of infestation to catch any potential problems early on. Common pests that can affect pothos plants include spider mites, mealybugs, and aphids. If you notice any signs of pests such as webbing, tiny insects, or distorted leaves, take immediate action to control the infestation.

There are various methods for pest management depending on the severity of the infestation. For minor infestations, wiping the leaves with a damp cloth or spraying them with a mixture of water and mild soap can help. However, for more severe cases, you may need to resort to insecticidal sprays or natural remedies such as neem oil.

Pruning and Trimming

Regular pruning and trimming are essential for maintaining the shape and overall health of your pothos plants. Trimming off any yellow or brown leaves not only improves the aesthetic appeal of your plants but also prevents the spread of diseases. Use clean, sharp scissors or pruning shears to make clean cuts just above a node (the point where a leaf joins the stem). This encourages new growth and ensures that your pothos plants remain lush and vibrant.

Remember to sanitize your pruning tools before and after each use to prevent the transmission of any potential diseases. Simply wiping them with rubbing alcohol or a solution of bleach and water will suffice.

By implementing these prevention and maintenance tips, you can create a nurturing environment for your pothos plants, allowing them to thrive and bring life to your indoor space. With proper watering, ideal lighting conditions, regular fertilization, vigilant inspection for pests, and diligent pruning, your pothos plants will reward you with their stunning foliage and air-purifying benefits.

For more in-depth information on pothos plant care, including propagation, varieties, and troubleshooting common issues, check out our other articles on pothos propagation, pothos varieties, and pothos plant care.


In conclusion, understanding why pothos plant leaves turn brown is crucial for any gardener seeking to maintain the health and beauty of these popular houseplants. By identifying the common causes of browning leaves and implementing the appropriate remedies, gardeners can ensure the longevity and vibrancy of their pothos plants.

Overwatering and underwatering are two primary culprits behind brown pothos leaves. It is essential to strike a balance in watering practices, ensuring that the soil is neither too wet nor too dry. Adequate lighting is also crucial for the well-being of pothos plants. They thrive in bright, indirect light, but direct sunlight can scorch their leaves.

Temperature extremes, nutrient deficiencies, and pest infestations are other factors that can lead to browning leaves. Maintaining a consistent temperature and humidity level, providing regular fertilization, and practicing vigilant pest management can help prevent these issues from affecting pothos plants.

To diagnose and address the problem of brown pothos leaves, gardeners should examine the leaves closely, check the soil moisture, and assess the lighting conditions. By making adjustments to their watering practices, ensuring adequate lighting, controlling temperature and humidity, supplementing nutrients, and managing pests, gardeners can effectively remedy the issue of browning leaves.

Prevention and maintenance are key to long-term pothos plant health. Gardeners should practice proper watering techniques, provide ideal lighting conditions, regularly fertilize the plants, inspect for pests, and trim and prune as necessary. These proactive measures will help maintain the overall health and appearance of pothos plants.

In conclusion, with the right care and attention, pothos plants can thrive and bring beauty to any indoor space. The versatility and resilience of these plants make them a popular choice for both beginner and experienced gardeners. By implementing the tips and techniques discussed in this article, gardeners can enjoy lush and vibrant pothos plants for years to come.

For more information on pothos plant care, propagation, varieties, and more, be sure to visit PlantPropagation.org – your ultimate resource for all things related to pothos plants and beyond.