The Ultimate Guide to Preventing Pothos Leaves from Turning Brown

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Written By Sharline

Sharline is an expert on Chinese export trade. With 10 years of experience in the field of sourcing in China, she is familiar with all relevant regulations and laws about China's exporting. She loves to share her experiences with people and has written many helpful articles.

Pothos is a popular indoor plant that is easy to care for and known for its trailing vines with heart-shaped leaves. However, one common problem that can arise with pothos is the development of brown leaves. 

There are a few reasons why pothos leaves may turn brown, including over or underwatering, inadequate lighting, and pest infestations. 

In this article, we’ll explore these causes and provide solutions to help you prevent and treat brown leaves on your pothos plant.


One of the most common causes of brown leaves on pothos is overwatering. Pothos plants prefer soil that is moist but not soggy. Overwatering can cause the roots to rot, resulting in brown and wilted leaves. No worries, it’s a common problem that can be easily fixed.

First, stop watering the plant until the soil has dried out completely. Depending on the humidity and temperature in your home, it could take a few days to a week for the soil to dry out completely. Once the soil is dry, water the plant sparingly and only when the top inch of the soil feels dry.

Another solution is to repot the plant in fresh soil with better drainage. Pothos plants prefer well-draining soil, so use a soil mix that includes perlite or vermiculite. This will help prevent water from sitting in the soil, which can cause root rot and contribute to brown leaves.

Lastly, check the pot’s drainage holes to ensure that excess water can escape. If the pot doesn’t have drainage holes, consider repotting the plant into a pot that does. You can also add a layer of rocks or pebbles at the bottom of the pot to help with drainage.

The key to solving pothos leaves turning brown from overwatering is to adjust your watering habits, provide the plant with well-draining soil, trim off damaged leaves, and ensure proper drainage. With a little attention and care, your pothos plant will return to its healthy, green self in no time!


On the other hand, underwatering can also cause brown leaves on pothos. When the soil is too dry, the leaves can dry and turn brown. It is vital to ensure that the soil is moist but not soggy.

 If you’ve noticed that the leaves on your pothos plant are turning brown and crispy, it might be a sign of underwatering. But don’t worry. There are some simple steps you can take to get your pothos looking healthy and vibrant again.

The first thing you’ll want to do is give your plant a good drink of water. Pothos plants like to be kept moist but not waterlogged. If the soil feels dry to the touch, give it a good watering until it runs out of the drainage holes at the bottom of the pot. Ensure to discard any excess water in the saucer beneath the pot to prevent the roots from sitting in water.

If the soil has become very dry and hard, you may need to water your pothos a few times to help them recover. Be sure to allow the plant to absorb the water between waterings rather than drowning it with too much water all at once.

Another way to prevent underwatering is to establish a regular watering schedule. Pothos plants usually need to be watered every 1-2 weeks, but this can vary depending on factors such as humidity, temperature, and the size of your plant. Pay attention to the soil moisture and adjust your watering schedule as needed.

Poor drainage

If the pot has drainage holes or the soil is too compacted, this can result in better drainage and waterlogged soil. This can lead to root rot, which can cause the leaves to turn brown and wilt. You can take some simple steps to get your pothos looking healthy and vibrant again.

You’ll first want to check the drainage holes at the bottom of your pot to ensure they’re not blocked. If they are, clear them out to ensure water can flow freely through the soil and out of the pot. If your pot doesn’t have drainage holes, consider repotting your plant into a container that does.

Next, you’ll want to check the soil to make sure it’s not retaining too much water. If the soil is very wet and heavy, it may be holding onto excess water that can cause the roots to rot. In this case, you’ll want to report your pothos into fresh, well-draining soil. Make sure to choose a potting mix that contains perlite, sand, or vermiculite to improve drainage.

When repotting your pothos, remove any dead or damaged roots and plant them at the same depth it was in their previous pot. Water the plant thoroughly after repotting, but discard any excess water that collects in the saucer beneath the pot.

If your pothos already show signs of root rot, you’ll need to take more drastic action. Remove the plant from its pot and gently wash the roots under running water to remove any soil. Trim away any mushy or blackened roots, then repot the plant into fresh, well-draining soil. Make sure to avoid overwatering in the future to prevent the roots from becoming waterlogged again.

Low humidity

Pothos plants prefer a humid environment; low humidity levels can cause the leaves to turn brown and dry out. This is particularly common during the winter months when indoor heating can cause the air to become dry.

You’ll want to mist your pothos regularly with a spray bottle of room-temperature water. This will help increase the plant’s humidity and prevent the leaves from drying out. Aim to mist your plant at least once a day or more often if the air in your home is dehydrated.

Another way to increase the humidity around your pothos is to place a tray filled with water near the plant. As the water evaporates, it will help to humidify the air around the plant. You can also place a small humidifier near your plant to provide a steady source of moisture.

If your pothos is in an arid room, consider moving it to a more humid location, such as a bathroom or kitchen. These areas tend to have higher humidity levels, which can help your pothos thrive.

It’s also essential to ensure your pothos get enough water. While you don’t want to overwater your plant, underwatering can cause the leaves to dry and turn brown. Ensure to thoroughly water your pothos when the top inch of the soil feels dry.

Lastly, if your pothos is still struggling with low humidity despite your best efforts, consider investing in a plant humidifier or a pebble tray. These products can help maintain a steady humidity level around your plant and prevent the leaves from drying out.

Inadequate lighting

Pothos plants require bright, indirect light to grow and thrive. The leaves may turn brown and fall off if the plant is located in a spot with low light levels.

The first thing you’ll want to do is make sure your pothos is in a location where they can get some natural light. Pothos plants prefer bright, indirect light, so try placing your plant near a window that gets filtered sunlight throughout the day.

If you’re still struggling to find a bright enough spot for your pothos, consider investing in a grow light. These lights are designed to provide the correct spectrum of light for indoor plants and can be a great way to give your pothos the light they need to thrive.

Another way to help your pothos get more light is to prune back any leaves or vines blocking the plant’s access to light. This will encourage new growth and help the plant to direct its energy towards healthy leaves.

Lastly, ensure you’re not overwatering your pothos, which can also cause the leaves to turn brown and droop. Make sure to let the soil dry out slightly between waterings, and be sure to water your plant thoroughly when you do water it.

To solve pothos leaves turning brown from inadequate lighting, make sure your plant is in a location where it can get some natural light, and consider investing in a grow light.


Pests affecting pothos include spider mites, mealybugs, and scale insects. These pests can suck the sap from the leaves, causing them to turn brown and fall off.

One way to eliminate pests is using insecticidal soap or neem oil spray. These products effectively kill pests and are safe for use on pothos plants. Spray the affected leaves and stems with the solution, being sure to coat both sides of the leaves.

Another method is to use a cotton swab dipped in rubbing alcohol to remove the pests manually. This can be time-consuming, but it’s an effective way to eliminate pests without using harsh chemicals.

If the infestation is severe, you may need to report your pothos plant to eliminate any pests in the soil. Wash the roots thoroughly and replace the soil with a fresh, sterile potting mix.

To prevent future infestations, keep your pothos plant clean and healthy. Avoid overwatering, as this can attract pests, and regularly clean the leaves with a damp cloth to remove any dust or debris. You can also use a preventative spray or oil, such as neem oil, to keep pests at bay.

Temperature fluctuations

Pothos plants can be sensitive to temperature fluctuations and exposure to cold drafts. This can cause the leaves to turn brown and dry out.

First of all, it’s important to know that Pothos plants thrive in temperatures between 65°F to 85°F (18°C to 29°C). Anything above or below that range could lead to temperature stress and brown leaves.

To solve this issue, keep your Pothos plant in a stable temperature environment. Avoid placing it near drafty windows, air conditioning units, or heating vents. Also, keep the temperature consistent by keeping it away from cold or hot spots in your home.

If you live where temperature fluctuations are common, consider using a thermostat to regulate the temperature around your Pothos plant. You can also cover the plant with a cloth or sheet during extreme weather conditions to prevent temperature stress.

Another way to help your Pothos plant tolerate temperature fluctuations is to ensure it’s adequately hydrated. Ensure to water it regularly, but not too much, as over-watering can lead to brown leaves. You can also mist the leaves with water to increase humidity and help the plant regulate its temperature.

Lastly, regularly checking your Pothos plant for any signs of stress, including brown leaves, is essential. If you notice any, remove them promptly and adjust the temperature and humidity levels accordingly.

With these simple tips, you can help your Pothos plant thrive in a stable environment and avoid brown leaves caused by temperature fluctuations.

Nutrient deficiencies 

Nutrient deficiencies can cause the leaves of pothos to turn brown. Lack of nutrients such as nitrogen, magnesium, or potassium can cause brown patches or tips on the leaves.

Pothos plants require a balanced mix of nutrients, including nitrogen, phosphorus, and potassium, to grow and thrive. Their leaves can turn brown if they’re not getting enough of these nutrients.

You must ensure your Pothos plant gets the proper nutrients to solve this issue. One way to do this is by using a high-quality fertilizer designed for houseplants. Fertilizers provide a quick boost of nutrients to the soil, which helps the plant grow and maintain healthy foliage.

You can also supplement the soil with organic matter, such as compost or aged manure. These materials provide a slow-release source of nutrients that can help nourish your Pothos plant over time.

It’s important to note that over-fertilizing your Pothos plant can also cause brown leaves. Be sure to follow the instructions on the fertilizer package and avoid giving your plant too much.

Another way to ensure your Pothos plant gets the proper nutrients is by checking the soil’s pH level. Pothos plants prefer slightly acidic soil with a pH level between 6.0 and 7.0. If the soil is too alkaline or acidic, it can affect the plant’s ability to absorb nutrients, leading to brown leaves.

You can test the soil’s pH level with a soil testing kit available at most garden centers. If the pH level is too high or low, you can adjust it by adding lime or sulfur to the soil, respectively.

Lastly, regularly checking your Pothos plant for any signs of stress, including brown leaves, is essential. If you notice any, adjust the nutrient levels accordingly and continue to monitor the plant’s progress.


To prevent and treat brown leaves on your pothos, water it correctly, provide adequate lighting, inspect it for pests and maintain appropriate temperature and humidity levels. 

With proper care, your pothos can thrive and provide you with its beautiful trailing vines and lush green leaves.