Pothos Leaves Turning Brown

Why Is Pothos Turning Brown?

Pothos are popular houseplants that are found in many homes all around the world. Pothos are easy to care for, making them a favorite among plant enthusiasts. However, one common problem that many pothos owners face is brown leaves.

Brown leaves on pothos can indicate many issues from watering problems to fertilizer issues. It’s critical to understand why your pothos turns brown so you can resolve the issue and keep your plant healthy. In this article, we’ll explore these causes in detail so you can identify what’s causing your pothos leaves to turn brown. Ultimately, this will help to prevent the plants leaves from turning brown.

Pothos Leaves Turning Brown


Watering is one of the most common causes of pothos leaves turning brown, specifically, underwatering. When a plant is underwatered, it leads to brown, crispy, and wilted leaves. The soil can go bone dry very quickly and even when watered, the water won’t be able to adequately penetrate the soil and let the roots get a drink of water. If your soil is bone dry, bottom water the pothos for a while until the roots are able to soak up the water, most likely this will be an hour or more. When there is excess water, the roots of the pothos plant can become waterlogged, which can lead to root rot.

To prevent brown leaves caused by watering issues, water the plant when it’s thirsty. If you’re an overwaterer, water when the top layer of soil is dry before watering your pothos, and make sure the pot has good drainage to prevent waterlogging. If you’re an underwaterer, don’t wait until the soil is bone dry before watering. Water it when the plant is dry to the touch.


If the humidity in your home is too low, pothos leaves can turn brown because of this. Pothos like a high humidity level to keep them happy. To maintain a healthy humidity level for your pothos, consider placing a humidifier near the plant or a pebble tray filled with water and place the pot on top of this tray. It’s also important to keep in mind that the ideal temperatures for this plant are 65-85F.

Root Rot

Root rot is a fungal disease that can affect pothos plants when they’re overwatered or planted in soil that doesn’t have proper drainage. The roots of the plant will begin to rot, and the leaves will turn brown and wilt. The soil will start to smell if root rot is affecting your pothos.

To save the plant from root rot, remove the plant from the pot and trim off any brown and mushy roots. Repot the plant in fresh soil with proper drainage and avoid overwatering it in the future.


Pothos plants can be susceptible to various diseases that can cause brown leaves. One common disease is bacterial leaf spot, which is brought on when the plant is too wet. This condition causes dark brown spots on the leaves. Another disease is fungal leaf spot, which causes brown patches on the leaves.

To prevent and treat diseases, clean the leaves, don’t overwater the plant, and increase air circulation. Remove the leaves with brown spots and treat the plant with a copper fungicide.


Aphids, spider mites, mealybugs, and scale are all insects that can eventually cause pothos leaves to turn brown. These bugs can wreak havoc on your plants and can easily transfer over to other plants, so it’s important to catch them early. Inspect your plants every time you water to watch for pest infestations. Some signs of pests to watch out for are webbing and tiny white or brown specks that look like dust. These bugs suck the sap out of the leaves and stems, leaving brown and withered leaves.

To get rid of pests, isolate the plant and treat it with an insecticidal soap or neem oil.


The type of soil your pothos is planted in can also affect its health. Soil that’s too compacted or doesn’t have proper drainage can lead to brown leaves.

To fix soil issues, repot the plant in a pot with drainage holes and in well-drained soil.

Fertilizer Issues

Overfertilizing or under fertilizing your plant can also cause brown pothos leaves. Too much fertilizer can cause fertilizer burn, leading to brown and crispy leaves. On the other hand, too little fertilizer can cause nutrient deficiencies, which can also lead to brown leaves.

To fix fertilizer issues, make sure to follow the instructions on the fertilizer package and avoid overfertilizing your plant. If you’ve been overfertilizing, flush the soil with water to remove any excess fertilizer.

Nutrient Deficiency

Pothos plants need certain nutrients, including nitrogen, phosphorus, and potassium, to grow and thrive. If your plant lacks any of these essential nutrients, it may show signs of stress, including brown leaves.
Nitrogen deficiency is the most common nutrient deficiency in pothos plants. Signs of nitrogen deficiency include yellow leaves, browning, and leaf drop. Phosphorus and potassium deficiency can also cause brown spots on the leaves, along with stunted growth.

To fix nutrient deficiencies, you can either fertilize your plant with a balanced fertilizer or add specific nutrients to the soil for what it is lacking. A balanced fertilizer contains equal amounts of nitrogen, phosphorus, and potassium. Alternatively, you can purchase individual nutrients, such as nitrogen-rich fish emulsion or potassium-rich banana peel fertilizer, and add them to the soil as needed.

It’s important to note that while fertilizing can help fix nutrient deficiencies, it’s also possible to over-fertilize your pothos plant, which can cause its own issues that we’ll talk about now.

Fertilizer Burn

Fertilizer burn is another common cause of brown foliage on pothos plants. Fertilizer burn occurs when you apply too much fertilizer to your plant. The fertilizer salt will seep into the roots to and burn them. In turn, this causes the leaves to brown from too much nutrients. The plant may also show signs of stunted growth.

To fix fertilizer burn, you’ll need to trim away the affected leaves and flush the soil with water to remove excess fertilizer from the soil and roots. If the roots are damaged (most likely), you must trim away the damaged roots and repot your pothos plant in fresh soil. Always follow the instructions on the fertilizer package. Diluting the fertilizer mixture is important.

How to Fix Brown Leaves on Pothos

Once you can understand why the leaves on your pothos are brown, take action right away to fix the issue. Here are some steps you can take to fix brown leaves on your pothos:

Watering Schedule

Adjust your watering schedule if watering issues have caused brown leaves on your pothos. Wait until the top two inches of soil are dry before watering your pothos, and make sure the pot has drainage holes to prevent waterlogging. If you’ve been overwatering your plant, let it dry out and only water it again when the soil feels dry to the touch.

Lighting Adjustment

If your pothos is getting too much direct sunlight and getting sunburn, it can cause the plant to dry out faster, leaving brown and crispy leaves. Move your pothos to a new home with the ideal lighting conditions of bright indirect light or you may alternatively provide it with a grow light.

Inspect the Plant for Disease & Pests

Inspect the plant carefully if you suspect that disease or pests are causing brown leaves on your pothos. Look for any signs of pests, such as webs or tiny insects, and remove any affected leaves. If you notice signs of infection, remove the affected leaves and treat the plant with a fungicide or bactericide.

Fertilizer Schedule

Adjust your fertilizer schedule accordingly if fertilizer issues cause the brown leaves on your pothos. Always follow the instructions on the fertilizer package to avoid overfertilizing your plant. If you have overfertilized your plant, flush the soil with water to remove excess fertilizer.

Pothos Turning Brown Prevention

Preventing brown leaves on your pothos is easier than fixing them. Here are some steps you can take to prevent brown leaves on your pothos:

  • Maintain a consistent watering schedule, and make sure the pot has good drainage.
  • Provide your pothos with enough indirect sunlight or artificial light.
  • Keep the air at an average to high humidity level.
  • Inspect your plant regularly for signs of pests and disease.
  • Avoid overfertilizing your plant by following the instructions on the fertilizer package.

By following these steps, you can keep your pothos leaves free from turning brown and prevent them browning in the first place. It’s also important to remember that pothos plants are relatively low-maintenance and forgiving, so even if you do encounter brown leaves or other issues, cut the affected leaves off and there’s a good chance you can find the root cause and keep your plant healthy.

Brown leaves on a pothos plant can be caused by a variety of factors, including watering issues, humidity, pests, and disease. By identifying the cause and taking appropriate steps to fix the issue, as well as following a few preventative measures, you can keep your pothos plant healthy and thriving for years to come.


Should I Cut Off Brown Pothos Leaves?

If you notice brown leaves on your pothos, trim the brown leaves off. Brown leaves won’t turn green again, so it’s best to trim and discard them.

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