Why Does My Pothos Have Brown Spots: Quick Diagnosis & Solutions

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If you’re a plant lover, you may have noticed brown spots on your Pothos leaves and wondered what’s causing them. Brown spots can be a sign of a variety of issues, from overwatering to pests and diseases. In this article, we’ll explore the common causes of brown spots on Pothos leaves, as well as some tips for identifying and treating the problem to help your plant stay healthy and vibrant.

Identifying Brown Spots on Pothos

Brown spots on pothos leaves can be concerning for plant owners, but understanding the causes and potential remedies can help maintain a healthy plant. In this section, we will discuss the causes of brown spots on pothos and provide helpful tips for preventing and managing the issue.

Causes of Brown Spots

There are several factors that can contribute to the appearance of brown spots on pothos leaves. These include:

  • Incorrect watering: Both overwatering and underwatering can lead to brown spots. Pothos plants prefer to be slightly dry rather than too wet, as soggy roots can cause various issues, including root rot and development of brown spots on leaves (Houseplant Authority).
  • Disease: Fungal diseases, such as root rot, can cause brown spots on pothos leaves. Quick identification and treatment are essential to prevent further damage to the plant (Seeds and Spades).
  • Too much sunlight: Pothos plants thrive in well-lit, indirect-lit areas. Direct sunlight can lead to sunburn, causing brown spots or edges on the leaves (Garden for Indoor).
  • Low humidity: Pothos plants prefer a humidity level between 20% and 30%. Insufficient humidity can result in water evaporation from the plant, increasing the likelihood of brown spots developing (Love Planting).
  • Over-fertilizing: Excessive use of fertilizer can cause a buildup of salts in the soil, leading to brown spots on pothos leaves (Seeds and Spades).
  • Insects: Pests, such as spider mites and mealybugs, can cause brown spots on pothos leaves by feeding on the plant’s sap (Seeds and Spades).
  • Cold temperatures: Exposure to cold temperatures can result in brown spots on pothos leaves (Seeds and Spades).

By understanding the various causes of brown spots on pothos plants, plant owners can take preventative measures and address issues as soon as they arise, ensuring their pothos remains healthy and vibrant.

Watering Issues

Pothos plants are susceptible to various watering issues that can lead to brown spots on their leaves. The two main concerns are overwatering and underwatering, which can cause the plant’s health to deteriorate over time.


Overwatering occurs when the pothos plant receives too much water, causing its roots to become waterlogged and stressing the plant. This can lead to the appearance of brown spots on the leaves as a sign of distress.

To prevent overwatering, make sure to allow the soil to become partially dry between waterings. A well-draining potting mix and proper drainage are essential to avoiding this issue. Additionally, it may help to adjust the watering schedule based on the season, providing less water during cooler months when the plant’s growth slows down.


On the other hand, underwatering can also cause brown spots on pothos leaves. When the plant does not receive adequate water, the soil becomes too dry, leading to brown spots and weakened growth. Prolonged underwatering can cause the plant to become sickly and potentially lead to more significant issues.

To ensure your pothos is receiving enough water, check the soil moisture regularly and adjust your watering schedule accordingly. A good practice is to water the plant when the top couple of inches of soil feel dry to the touch. Always use a well-draining potting mix and provide appropriate drainage to prevent waterlogged roots.

By addressing these watering concerns, you can help maintain the health and appearance of your pothos plant, preventing the development of brown spots on the leaves.

Nutrient Imbalances

Pothos plants can develop brown spots if they experience nutrient imbalances, which can result from a lack of essential nutrients or an excess of fertilizers. Understanding the different aspects of nutrient imbalances and their management will help you maintain a healthy and vibrant pothos plant.

Lack of Essential Nutrients

Nutrient deficiency in pothos plants can lead to the development of brown spots on their leaves. Essential nutrients, such as nitrogen, phosphorus, and potassium, are vital for the plant’s growth and overall health. When these nutrients are lacking, the plant may exhibit stunted growth, browning leaves, and overall poor health.

To overcome nutrient deficiencies, it’s essential to use a balanced fertilizer containing these critical elements. Depending on the specific deficiency, ensure you apply the appropriate nutrient ratio based on the plant’s needs as it develops. Regular monitoring of the plant’s health and appearance should aid in determining the nutrient balance required for optimal growth.

Excess Fertilizer

Conversely, over-fertilizing your pothos plant can also lead to brown spots on the leaves. This issue often occurs when there’s a buildup of nutrient salts in the soil, affecting the plant’s ability to take up water and essential nutrients through its roots. The excess nutrients may cause leaf damage, browning, and eventually, leaf drop.

To manage over-fertilization, it’s crucial to follow the recommended application rates and intervals specified for your specific fertilizer. In case of a suspected buildup of nutrient salts, you can flush the excess salts out by running large amounts of water through the soil and allowing it to drain freely. Monitoring your pothos plant’s health regularly will also help you identify any signs of over-fertilization and make necessary adjustments to your feeding regimen.

Pests and Diseases

Pothos plants can experience brown spots on their leaves due to various pests and diseases. This section discusses common pests and fungal infections that can cause these issues.

Common Pests

Several pests can infest pothos plants and lead to brown spots on their leaves. Some of these pests include:

  • Spider mites: These tiny insects feed on plant sap and cause leaves to turn brown. They can be difficult to see, but their damage is often visible in the form of spotting or yellowing leaves (MicroVeggy).
  • Scale insects: Scale insects suck nutrients out of leaves, resulting in brown discoloration. They often appear as small, round, brown spots on the leaves themselves (MicroVeggy).
  • Aphids: These small, soft-bodied insects feed on plant sap, causing brown spots and deformed leaves. Aphid infestations can weaken the plant and make it more susceptible to disease (Indoor Plants Made Easy).

Fungal Infections

There are several fungal infections that can cause brown spots on pothos leaves:

  • Powdery mildew: This fungal disease appears as a white, powdery substance on the leaves and can lead to brown spots. It is often seen in plants kept in conditions with high humidity or poor air circulation (MicroVeggy).
  • Root rot: Root rot is caused by a fungus and can result in brown spots on the leaves if left untreated. This serious problem can eventually kill the plant if not addressed (Houseplant Authority).
  • Leaf spot: Leaf spot diseases cause small, dark brown spots on pothos leaves. They can be caused by various fungal or bacterial pathogens and may lead to yellowing or dropping leaves (Indoor Plants Made Easy).

To prevent and treat these pests and diseases, it is essential to maintain proper care for your pothos plants, including regular watering, adequate light, and appropriate fertilization.

Environmental Factors

There are several environmental factors that can cause brown spots on pothos plants. Some common factors include temperature fluctuations and low humidity. Be aware of these elements in your home or growing space, ensuring proper environmental conditions to keep your pothos healthy.

Temperature Fluctuations

Pothos plants are susceptible to stress caused by sudden changes in temperature. Extreme temperature shifts can lead to brown spots on the leaves. Maintaining consistent temperatures in the range of 65-85°F (18-29°C) is ideal for pothos plants. Be mindful of the placement of the plant to avoid direct exposure to heating or cooling vents, as this can cause temperature fluctuations.

Low Humidity

Low humidity can also contribute to the development of brown spots on pothos leaves. These plants thrive in humid environments, with a humidity level of at least 50% being suitable. To increase the humidity around your pothos plant, consider using a humidifier, placing a tray of water near the plant, or grouping it with other plants to create a more humid microclimate. Misting the leaves with water is another simple way to maintain adequate humidity levels for your pothos.

By paying close attention to these environmental factors and adjusting when necessary, you can help prevent brown spots on your pothos plant and promote healthy growth.

Prevention and Treatment

Brown spots on pothos plants can be prevented and treated through proper care and treatment options. In this section, we will discuss both aspects to help you maintain healthy and thriving pothos plants.

Proper Care

Here are some essential care tips to prevent brown spots on pothos plants:

  • Watering: Be mindful of overwatering and underwatering issues as both can lead to browning leaves. Ensure that the soil is damp but not waterlogged, and always use pots with proper drainage holes.
  • Sunlight: Avoid placing your pothos in direct sunlight, as too much sunlight can cause brown spots. Ensure that they receive bright, indirect light in their environment.
  • Humidity: Maintain a humidity level of 20-30% by placing the plant on a pebble tray or using a humidifier.
  • Fertilization: Provide pothos plants with a balanced supply of nutrients, including nitrogen, phosphorus, and potassium, by fertilizing them according to the instructions on the label.

Treatment Options

If your pothos plant already has brown spots, consider the following treatment methods:

  • Prune affected leaves: Remove the brown-spotted leaves to stop the spread and allow healthy parts of the plant to grow.
  • Flush excess salts: If you suspect over-fertilization, flush out excess salts from the soil by running a lot of water through it and allowing it to drain fully.
  • Adjust care practices: Review the care tips mentioned in the “Proper Care” section and make necessary adjustments to your plant’s environment and care routine.

By closely following these proper care instructions and treatment options, you can effectively prevent and treat brown spots on your pothos plants, helping them stay healthy and vibrant.

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