Pothos Overwatered vs Underwatered: Key Signs & Solutions

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Are you struggling to keep your pothos plant healthy? It can be hard to tell whether your plant is overwatered or underwatered, but both can cause serious damage. In this article, we’ll discuss the signs of overwatering and underwatering in pothos plants, and provide tips on how to fix the issue.

Pothos Overwatered Vs Underwatered

When it comes to caring for pothos plants, finding the correct balance between overwatering and underwatering is crucial for their overall health. Both conditions can harm the plant, so understanding the signs and differences will help you keep your pothos thriving.

Overwatering is a common issue for pothos plants, as it is easy to overcompensate when watering. Soil that is soggy, damp, or waterlogged can indicate overwatering, which can lead to root rot and yellowing leaves (source). Overwatered pothos leaves will feel soft, limp, and lifeless (source).

Underwatering, on the other hand, is characterized by dry, crispy, brittle leaves and soil that has started to pull away from the sides of the pot. Brown spots or general discoloration on the leaves can also signal an underwatering problem (source).

To prevent overwatering or underwatering your pothos, it is important to monitor soil moisture and establish a reasonable watering schedule. Here are some general tips to help you maintain your pothos:

  • Feel the soil before watering to determine if it’s dry or damp.
  • Allow the top inch of soil to dry out between waterings.
  • Use well-draining soil mixtures.
  • Ensure the pot has drainage holes.

By keeping these factors in mind and observing your pothos plant closely, you can achieve the right balance for a healthy and vigorous pothos.

Signs of Overwatering

Why Is My Pothos Turning Yellow
Golden Pothos houseplant with unknown leaf spot disease in shape of small black stripes caused by fungus or bacterial infection

Overwatering a pothos plant can lead to various problems. In this section, we will explore the three main signs of overwatering, including yellowing leaves, root rot, and mushy stems.

Yellowing Leaves

When a pothos plant receives too much water, the leaves can turn yellow. This is because the plant’s roots are unable to absorb the excess water, leading to a lack of oxygen for the plant. The yellowing usually starts at the bottom leaves and progresses upwards if the watering issue persists(source). To avoid this issue, ensure the plant’s soil is well-draining and adopt a proper watering schedule.

Root Rot

One of the most serious consequences of overwatering a pothos is root rot. As the soil continues to stay saturated, harmful fungi and bacteria thrive, causing the roots to decay and eventually rot. Signs of root rot include a foul smell, blackened roots, and a significant reduction in new growth(source). To treat root rot, prune the affected roots, allow the plant to dry, and repot in fresh, well-draining soil.

Mushy Stems

Mushy stems are another indicator of an overwatered pothos plant. The excess water causes the plant’s cells to expand and rupture, leading to soft, mushy, and ultimately rotting stems(source). It is crucial to address this issue promptly by reducing the watering frequency and ensuring proper drainage to prevent further damage to the plant.

Signs of Underwatering

Underwatered Pothos

Underwatering is a common issue when it comes to pothos plant care. Observing the plant’s symptoms is crucial in order to take appropriate measures for its health. In this section, we will discuss some primary signs of underwatering in Pothos plants.

Wilting Leaves

When a pothos plant is underwatered, its leaves may begin to wilt. The leaves lose their normal vibrant appearance and can even droop due to lack of hydration. This can occur even when there is enough light available, indicating a shortage of water in the plant’s system(source).

Dry Soil

Another reliable sign of an underwatered pothos is dry soil. Parched soil is a clear indication that your plant is thirsty and needs more water than it is currently receiving(source). Checking the soil’s moisture level by inserting your finger or a moisture meter can provide valuable information about the plant’s watering needs.

Brown Leaf Tips

Underwatered pothos plants are prone to developing brown leaf tips, which is often followed by general discoloration of the leaves(source). This is due to the lack of moisture that reaches the tips, resulting in tissue damage and browning. To avoid this, it is essential to keep an eye on the plant’s watering schedule and ensure that it is receiving sufficient water.

Preventing Overwatering and Underwatering

Proper Drainage

Ensuring proper drainage is crucial for preventing both overwatering and underwatering of your pothos plant. A well-draining soil mix, which includes regular potting soil amended with perlite, pumice, and orchid bark, is considered effective for cultivating pothos (source). In addition to choosing the right soil, it’s essential to use a pot with drainage holes. Good drainage prevents excess moisture retention and allows the soil to dry out at a healthy rate, avoiding problems related to overwatering.

Consistent Watering Schedule

Developing a consistent watering schedule can help you maintain the right balance of moisture for your pothos plant. Pothos, being a tropical plant, requires regular watering, and the soil should be kept moist but not soggy. It is recommended to use the ‘soak-and-dry’ method to ensure that the plant stays adequately hydrated without being overwatered (source).

A good practice is to check the top few inches of the soil between waterings. If it’s dry, it’s time to water the plant again. This method helps you avoid both overwatering by ensuring that the soil isn’t constantly damp and underwatering by preventing the soil from becoming parched for extended periods (source).

In conclusion, giving proper attention to drainage and sticking to a consistent watering schedule will help you avoid both overwatering and underwatering of your pothos plant, ensuring its healthy growth and vibrant foliage.

Remedial Steps for Overwatered and Underwatered Pothos

Reviving Overwatered Pothos

When a pothos plant is overwatered, it is necessary to take corrective measures to prevent further damage. First, halt watering the plant and remove it from any standing water. Examine the soil by feeling it with your fingers, and if it is soggy or extremely damp, consider following the below steps:

  • Move the plant to a shady area to help you spot dead leaves, making trimming easier (Source).
  • Trim off any dead leaves and stems to promote new growth and reduce stress on the plant.
  • Consider repotting the plant in fresh, well-draining soil to prevent root rot.

Reviving Underwatered Pothos

For an underwatered pothos, the soil will feel extremely dry, and the leaves might have yellow and brown patches. The steps to save an underwatered pothos are:

  • Water the plant thoroughly, ensuring that the entire root system is soaked, and allow it to drain completely.
  • Follow the ‘soak-and-dry’ method where you water the plant only when the topsoil has dried out (Source).
  • Adjust the watering frequency based on the plant’s needs, with more water during its growth season and reduced amounts in winter.

By understanding the unique signs of overwatered vs. underwatered pothos, you can take the appropriate steps to revive the plant and promote healthy growth.

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