How to Tell if Pothos Needs Water: Simple Signs to Observe

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Pothos plants are low-maintenance houseplants, but they still require proper watering to thrive. In this article, we’ll go over how to tell if your pothos needs water and provide tips to keep your plant healthy and happy.

Identifying Pothos Plant

Pothos plants are a popular choice for indoor gardens due to their hardiness and low maintenance requirements. They come in a variety of different types, which can make identifying them a bit challenging. This section will focus on helping you identify your pothos plant and provide some tips for understanding when it needs watering.

Common Types of Pothos

There are several common types of pothos plants that you might come across, including:

  1. Golden Pothos: This is the most common variety, featuring heart-shaped leaves with a mix of green and yellow tones.
  2. Marble Queen Pothos: This variety has a more subdued coloration, with white or cream-colored streaks on its green leaves.
  3. Neon Pothos: As the name suggests, this type has bright, neon green leaves that can brighten up any room.
  4. Jade Pothos: This variety has solid green leaves and is often mistaken for a Philodendron plant.

It’s essential to know which type of pothos plant you have, as it can give you a better understanding of its specific needs and preferences.

To determine if your pothos needs water, look for signs such as dry soil, a light pot, drooping leaves, wrinkled leaves, browning leaf tips, or a lack of growth in the plant [1]. Additionally, check the soil at the drainage holes and the top 2 inches of the soil – if both are dry, it’s time to water [2].

When watering your pothos plant, be sure to water it slowly and deeply, allowing the water to reach the roots [3]. A well-draining potting mix is highly recommended to prevent root rot [3]. To help maintain humidity near the plant, you could place it on a pebble tray filled with water, ensuring the pot is elevated above the water level [4].

Lastly, make sure to empty and rinse off any trays your pothos plant sits on, as leaving the plant sitting in water can contribute to root rot [5]. Properly caring for and identifying your pothos will help to ensure its longevity in your indoor garden.

Signs of Underwatering

Leaf Drooping

One of the first signs that a pothos plant needs water is drooping leaves. When the plant doesn’t receive enough water, the leaves begin to droop and look lifeless. This is a clear indication that it’s time to water your pothos, as it’s the plant’s way of communicating its need for hydration. It’s important to water the pothos slowly and deeply so the water can reach the roots, helping the plant bounce back from underwatering.

Dry Soil

Another sign to watch out for is dry soil. To check the soil, examine the drainage holes of your pot. If the soil looks dry, crumbly, or is falling out of the hole, the pothos needs water. EcoFamilyLife suggests that the top 1-2 inches of soil should be dry before watering. It’s essential to have a well-draining potting mix to prevent the roots from sitting in water and leading to root rot.

Brown Leaf Edges

Lastly, underwatered pothos may exhibit discolored leaves, specifically brown leaf edges. Brown edges on the leaves are often a symptom of underwatering, which can lead to the leaves eventually falling off. This issue can be solved by watering the plant and making sure the pothos is placed in a well-draining pot with moist soil. Regularly checking the moisture levels in the potting mix can help you avoid this problem and keep your pothos healthy and thriving.

In summary, leaf drooping, dry soil, and brown leaf edges are the main signs of an underwatered pothos. Make sure to water your plant regularly and provide it with the proper care to ensure it remains healthy and vibrant.

Signs of Overwatering

Yellow Leaves

A clear sign of overwatering a pothos plant is the appearance of yellow leaves. When the roots can’t absorb water and nutrients properly, the leaves will start to droop and turn yellow. If you observe this happening, make sure to check the soil’s dampness. Soggy or wet soil indicates an overwatered plant.

Root Rot

Pothos plants suffer from root rot when consistently exposed to wet soil. Overwatering leads to the weakening and rotting of the roots, making it difficult for them to provide essential nutrients to the plant. Wilting leaves can hint at overwatered soil and root rot. To identify root rot, gently remove the plant from its pot, and examine the roots; unhealthy roots will have a dark color and slimy texture.

Mold Growth

Another indicator of overwatering is the presence of mold growth in the soil. If the soil appears damp or soggy and has visible white mold, the pothos is likely receiving excess water. This is a critical warning sign, as mold growth can harm the plant and create an unhealthy environment for it to grow properly. To prevent mold growth, always ensure the soil is only moist and not soaking wet before watering your pothos plant.

Remember, consistently checking the soil’s moisture level is key to understanding if your pothos needs water or if it’s being overwatered.

The Right Watering Routine

Ideal Frequency

To maintain a healthy pothos plant, it’s essential to develop a consistent watering routine. Watering frequency depends on factors such as humidity, temperature, and light exposure. A general guideline is to water pothos only when the soil is dry 1-2 inches below the surface. To check this, insert your finger into the soil near the base of the plant. If the soil feels dry, it’s time to water. If not, wait a few more days and check again.

Water Quality

For the best results, use filtered or distilled water when watering your pothos plant. Tap water might contain minerals, chemicals, and impurities that could harm the plant over time. Pothos plants are sensitive to fluoride, chlorine, and high mineral content, so it’s essential to ensure the water is of good quality.


Proper drainage is crucial for a healthy pothos plant. Make sure to use pots with multiple drainage holes, as this helps the soil dry sufficiently between watering sessions. Over-watering or insufficient drainage can cause root rot, which will ultimately harm your plant. When watering, add water slowly at the base of the plant until water starts to pour out of the drainage holes.

Here are some tips to improve drainage:

  • Use pots with drainage holes.
  • Place a layer of pebbles or perlite at the bottom of the pot before adding soil, to aid drainage.
  • If using a saucer, regularly empty any excess water to prevent the plant’s roots from soaking in standing water.

Potting Soil

The right potting soil plays an essential role in your pothos plant’s watering routine. A well-draining soil mix is necessary to help the soil dry out between watering sessions and prevent over-watering. Look for a potting soil labeled as well-draining or create your own mix by combining:

  • 2 parts of peat-based potting mix
  • 1 part perlite or coarse sand
  • 1 part compost or well-aged manure

Pothos plants thrive in loose, well-draining soil that provides adequate aeration for the roots.

Adjusting Care for Seasons and Environment

Temperature and Humidity

Pothos plants thrive in a wide range of temperatures, but they prefer a consistently warm and humid environment. During the warmer months, it is crucial to maintain a temperature between 70-90°F (21-32°C) for optimal growth. In the cooler months, temperatures should not drop below 50°F (10°C) as this can lead to slow growth and potential damage to the plant.

Humidity plays a significant role in the well-being of pothos plants. They prefer a humid environment, which can be achieved by:

  • Placing a tray of water near the plant
  • Regularly misting the plant with water
  • Utilizing a humidifier

Adjusting the humidity level according to the season will benefit the health of your pothos plant.

Light Conditions

Pothos plants can adapt to different light conditions, but they generally prefer bright, indirect light. Direct sunlight can lead to scorched leaves, while too little light can cause slow growth and loss of variegation.

To properly adjust light conditions for your pothos, consider the following tips:

  • Place the plant near a window with filtered light, such as a north or east-facing window
  • If placed in direct sunlight, use a sheer curtain to diffuse the light
  • Monitor the health of the plant and adjust its location as needed for optimal growth

By taking into account the seasonal changes in temperature, humidity, and light conditions, you can successfully maintain a healthy pothos plant year-round.

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