Why Is My Pothos Turning Brown: Key Causes & Solutions

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If you’ve noticed your Pothos plant’s leaves turning brown, you may be wondering what’s causing the issue. In this article, we’ll explore some of the common reasons why Pothos leaves turn brown and share tips on how to fix the problem.

Causes of Pothos Turning Brown


One cause of pothos leaves turning brown is underwatering. When the plant does not receive adequate water, its leaves can become dry and start to turn brown as they lack the necessary moisture for optimal growth. To fix this issue, ensure regular and consistent watering, without overdoing it. Wait until the top layer of the soil dries out before watering the plant again(source).


Similar to underwatering, overwatering can also lead to brown pothos leaves. Consistently wet soil can prevent oxygen from reaching the roots, causing yellowing and browning of the leaves and potentially leading to root rot(source). To prevent overwatering, let the soil dry out slightly between watering sessions, and ensure the pot has proper drainage to avoid standing water in the base.

Fertilizer Issues

Improper application of fertilizer can also cause browning in pothos leaves. Overfertilization can lead to a build-up of minerals and salts in the soil, which can harm the plant and cause leaf discoloration(source). To avoid this issue, use a balanced fertilizer and follow the recommended application rate for pothos plants. Be cautious not to apply too much and consider flushing the soil periodically to remove excess minerals and salts.

Pest Infestations

Pothos plants can be impacted by pests such as mealybugs, spider mites, and scale insects, which can cause browning of the leaves. These pests feed on the plant’s sap, leading to a weakened and unhealthy plant. To treat pest infestations, regularly inspect your pothos for signs of pests and apply appropriate treatments, such as insecticidal soap or neem oil, as needed(source). Ensuring proper plant care and hygiene can also help prevent future pest problems.

Symptoms and Identification

When your pothos plant starts to show signs of distress, it is essential to know how to identify the symptoms to determine the proper course of action. This section will focus on the main symptoms and identification of a pothos that is turning brown.

Leaf Symptoms

Pothos leaves may exhibit various symptoms that indicate an issue with the plant. Some of the most common leaf symptoms include:

  • Crispy, dry, and brittle leaves
  • Leaf edges turning brown and curling
  • Leaf tips turning brown and dry
  • Discolored and dull leaves, losing their vibrant green color
  • Reduced leaf size and stunted growth

These symptoms can be caused by factors such as improper watering, inadequate humidity, or excessive fertilization, leading to browning leaves (Rootgroot).

Stem Symptoms

In addition to leaf issues, the stems of a pothos plant can also display symptoms indicating a problem. Common stem symptoms include:

  • Stems becoming soft and mushy, which might indicate root rot
  • Wilting stems, even when the soil is moist, can be a sign of root rot as well
  • Stunted or slowed stem growth

These stem issues can result from overwatering, poor drainage, or infections that lead to root rot (Plantophiles).

By identifying the symptoms exhibited by your pothos plant, you can better understand the underlying issue and take the necessary steps to resolve the problem.

Prevention and Treatment

Watering Techniques

One of the primary causes of pothos leaves turning brown is improper watering. To prevent browning, ensure that the plant’s soil is allowed to dry out slightly between waterings. Overwatering can lead to root rot, and underwatering can cause the leaves to become dehydrated and brown(source). When watering, use filtered or distilled water that is free of chlorine and other minerals that can harm your plant(source).

Proper Fertilization

It’s essential to use the right amount of fertilizer for your pothos plant. Overfertilization can lead to burnt roots and leaves, resulting in leaf browning. Apply a balanced, water-soluble fertilizer diluted to half strength every 4-6 weeks during the growing season, and avoid over-application to prevent browning(source).

Pest Control

Pests such as mealybugs and spider mites can cause pothos leaves to turn brown. Regularly inspect your plant for signs of infestation and treat any issues promptly. Keep the plant clean by wiping the leaves with a damp cloth to remove dust and potential pests. If you notice an infestation, use insecticidal soap or neem oil to treat the affected areas(source).

Pruning and Maintenance

Regularly inspect your pothos for any dead, yellowing, or browning leaves, and remove them using clean scissors or pruning shears(source). This will help promote new growth and prevent the spread of any fungal diseases or pests. Additionally, ensure that your pothos receives adequate light, but protect it from direct sunlight, as this can scorch the leaves and cause them to turn brown. A properly maintained pothos plant is less likely to experience browning issues, and will thrive in the right conditions(source).

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