The reason for a dying pothos plant is usually because of overwatering and poor drainage. Pothos need well draining potting soil and prefer the top inch of soil to dry between bouts of watering. If the soil is consistently damp the pothos leaves turn yellow with a drooping, dying appearance due to root rot.
Root rot can also cause the pothos leaves to turn brown, with a curling appearance and to eventually lose the leaves.
Pothos vines grow leggy if they are not pruned regularly or if they are in too much shade.
If the pothos is dying after repotting this is usually because of root rot due to compacted soils, poor drainage or because the pot is too large and retains too much moisture.
If the pothos has stopped growing, this is usually due to Winter dormancy or because of a lack of light or nutrients.
To revive a dying pothos is is important to recreate its native conditions of well draining soil, watering only when the top inch of the soil is dry and to locate the pothos in bright, indirect sunlight.
It may be necessary to snip back any roots suffering from root rot and propagate the pothos from any remaining growth to save the plant.
Keep reading for how to save your dying pothos plant (also known as devils ivy or golden pothos Epipremnum pinnatum)…
Pothos Turning Yellow and Brown with a Drooping and Dying Appearance
- Symptoms. Leaves and stems turn yellow sometimes with brown spots or patches, with a drooping appearance. Leaves also turn yellow and start to curl and eventually drop off.
- Causes. Overwatering, slow draining or compacted soils and pots without drainage holes in the base.
The reason for pothos leaves turning yellow, drooping and dying is because of overwatering. Pothos requires the top inch of soil to dry between each bout of watering. In consistently damp soil pothos develops root rot which turns the leaves yellow with a drooping, dying appearance.
Pothos is native to South Pacific islands where it grows as climber, up trees with their roots in well draining aerated, porous soil.
This means that when growing pothos it is important to replicate some of the conditions of their native environment with light, well draining porous soil and by allowing the top inch of soil to dry between each watering.
Pothos generally tolerates under watering better then overwatering, which is usually the cause of a dying pothos plant.
If the pothos roots are in consistently damp soil from overwatering or poor drainage then this promotes the conditions for the fungal disease root rot which is often the cause of a dying pothos.
If root rot develops, the roots cannot function and transport water and nutrients around the plant which causes the leaves to turn yellow, brown and droop.
If the soil is particularly slow draining or compacted, then this has the same affect as overwatering causing root rot and the leaves to turn yellow.
Pots without drainage holes in the base and saucers and trays underneath pots all cause excess water to pool at the bottom of the pot and promotes the conditions for root rot which turns the pothos leaves yellow and brown with a drooping, dying appearance.
How to Revive a Pothos Plant with Yellow and Brown, Drooping Leaves
- Scale back the watering to emulate the typical moisture cycle in the pothos plant’s native environment. The correct method for watering pothos is to water generously, so that excess water trickles from the base of the pot, then let the top inch of the soil dry out before watering again. This cycle of watering ensures the pothos has the correct balance of moisture for the plant to grow and to avoid root rot.
- Take the pothos out of the pot and look at the roots. Inspect the roots for signs of root rot. If the roots feel soft, mushy, look dark and have a bad smell, then snip these roots all the way back to healthy growth (healthy roots are white and firm in texture) with a sharp pair of pruners. Wipe the blades of the pruners with a cloth soaked in disinfectant between each cut to prevent potentially spreading fungal pathogens, from the diseased roots to otherwise health roots.
- Replant the pothos in new, aerated well draining potting soil. It is important to replant the pothos in new soil as the old soil can harbor the fungal pathogens that caused the roots to rot and the leaves to turn yellow. Use a soil mix of 2/3’s normal potting soil and 1/3 perlite, horticultural grit or pine back as this type of potting mix replicates the typical aerated, porous soil conditions of the pothos plant’s native environment.
- Prune back any unhealthy stems that are turning yellow and appear rotten. Healthy stems should feel firm whereas a dying stem feels soft and mushy with a bad smell. Snip back any individual stems that appear diseased, back to healthy growth or back to the base of the plant. Wipe the pruners blades with a cloth soaked in disinfectant between each cut.
- Trim back any long trailing stems. If you reduce the size of the pothos plant by trimming the stems with yellow leaves, then there are less leaves for the roots to support which helps the pothos recover. Stems can be cut back to around 2 inches from the base of the plant which helps to stimulate new growth or cut so the pothos forms a more compact shape.
- Repot the pothos in a pot with drainage holes in the base. You can also repot the pothos in its original pot (as long as its washed with disinfectant), but it is important to ensure that excess water can drain efficiently from the pot to avoid root rot. Empty saucers and trays of any excess water regularly, to prevent root rot.
- Mist the pothos regularly after repotting. Misting the leaves helps recreate the humid conditions of the pothos plants native environment and reduces water loss through the leaves, which helps to mitigate transplant shock. Whilst pruning back diseased stems and root is necessary for the pothos plants survival, the interference with the roots can cause difficulty for the plant to draw up enough water and nutrients in the short term, so misting can help alleviate stress from water loss.
- Give the pothos a good soak after repotting, but remember to let the top inch of the soil dry out before watering again as this replicates the typical cycle of moisture in the pothos plants native environment.
It can be difficult to revive dying pothos if it has severe root rot as there is often not enough healthy roots to draw up the moisture and nutrients required to support the plant.
In which case I highly recommend propagating pothos from any healthy stems that remain, as pothos is easy to propagate and it may be the only way to save the dying plant.
Propagating pothos is easy and cost effective. Watch this helpful YouTube video for how to successfully propagate pothos plants:
For a full list of reason for pothos leaves turning yellow and how to save it read my article, how to save a pothos plant with yellow leaves.
Pothos Losing Leaves and Growing Leggy
- Symptoms. Pothos stems grow leggy and lose leaves, particularly at the base of the plant. The leaves turn yellow before falling off.
- Causes. Not enough light and not pruning the pothos stems often.
The reason for pothos losing leaves and growing leggy is because pothos is a climbing vine that directs its energy into growing long vines with new leaf growth. The leaves at the base of the pothos turn yellow and drop off as the plant matures.
Pothos plants are native to the tropical Solomon islands where they grow as a climbing plant often under a dense forest canopy.
To attain enough light to grow and thrive, the pothos plant’s strategy is to prioritize growing their vines longer up into the tree canopy, to an advantageous spot where they have enough, light, space and resources to grow.
Therefore their vines can grow quite quickly as a houseplant which results in a leggy appearance and causes the lower leaves, nearer the base to turn yellow and drop off as the plant redirects its resources to supporting and growing leaves further up the vines.
A lack of light can also contribute to the leggy appearance of a pothos and create the conditions for leaves to drop off.
Pothos grows under a forest canopy in its native environment so it can scorch in too much direct light, however if it is in too much shade, the vines grow leggy as the pothos searches for more light.
Too much shade also causes the leaves to drop off as the pothos does not have the resources to support as many leaves and tries to conserve energy.
Pothos leaves also fall off as the plant matures, especially if the vines are not regularly pruned.
Pothos plants are very hardy and resilient and you can easily revive a leggy pothos that is dropping its leaves.
How to Revive a Pothos Plant that is Losing Leaves and Growing Leggy
- Trim back most of the long leggy vines back to 2 inches above the soil line. Pothos is a hardy plant that can tolerate a hard pruning.
- Only cut around half of the long leggy vines back at anyone time, because if you cut back all the vines at once, this can be too much of a shock to the pothos. Pruning back helps to stimulate new growth.
- Once new growth has emerged from the vines that have been pruned, you can safely prune back any remaining leggy vines. This can totally reinvigorate a leggy plant with few leaves.
- The best time to prune back if during active growth, preferably in the Spring. The pothos is more resilient during active growth rater then during the Winter dormancy.
- Apply a general houseplant fertilizer at half strength once every month during Spring and Summer to help rejuvenate the pothos. As pruning helps to stimulate new growth, the pothos demand for nutrients increases, so a fertilizer can help fuel the new growth and restore the appearance of the plant. Pothos is somewhat sensitive to too much fertilizer which is why I recommend using half the recommended concentration.
- Keep the pothos vines pruned to your desired size to encourage more leaves to grow. Pruning your pothos when necessary helps to maintain its size, prevent a leggy appearance and promotes the growth of more leaves.
- Move the pothos to an area of bright, indirect light. Pothos can tolerate shadier rooms, but the have a tendency to grow leggy so they have to be pruned more regularly and do not grow as well. A bright room is best for growing pothos as long as it is not on the window sill in direct sunlight. Bright light encourages more leaves to grow and prevents the pothos from becoming as leggy as quickly, although it should still require pruning to maintain its size.
Pruning can be done at any time of the year but it is best to prune during active growth, particularly in the Spring as this stimulates new growth and the pothos can recover its appearance with lots of lush, green foliage.
Pothos Leaves Curling
- Symptoms. Leaves can turn yellow and curl in damp soil or curl due to dry conditions.
- Causes. Underwatering, overwatering, too much sun, low humidity, compacted soil, a sudden fluctuation in temperature.
The most common reason for pothos leaves curling is because the soil is too damp from overwatering and poor drainage. If the pothos plant’s leaves are turning yellow and curling, this indicates the roots are dying due to root rot, because of saturated potting soil.
Pothos requires the top inch of the soil to dry out between each bout of watering to stay healthy and prevent the leaves from turning yellow and curling. The pothos potting soil can be too damp for several reasons:
- Watering the pothos too often (let the soil dry before watering).
- The potting soil is too compacted (pothos needs porous soil).
- The pot does not have drainage holes in the base.
- Saucers or trays underneath the pot have prevented water draining effectively.
All of these factors cause the potting soil to remain damp for too long which promotes the conditions for root rot which results in curling leaves that turn yellow and eventually drop off.
However pothos leaves can also start to curl due to overly dry conditions caused by:
- Too much direct sunlight.
- Not watering often enough or watering too lightly.
- High temperatures due to indoor heating.
- Low humidity.
Pothos plants require bright, indirect light and can dry out too quickly due to too much sun.
This causes the pothos leaves to curl to reduce the surface area of the leaf which reduces the amount of water loss from the leaf in attempt to conserve moisture.
Pothos is also native to a topical, humid climate.
The humidity indoors is usually around 10% whereas the humidity in its native environment is typically above 30%.
The low humidity can start to sap too much moisture from the pothos leaves which causes them to curl.
Low indoor humidity is often exacerbated in Winter due to indoor heating and sudden increases temperature, both of which can contribute to the leaves curling. The optimal temperature range for pothos is between 55°F and 80°F (12°C to 27°C).
It should be noted that pothos requires a thorough watering, so that excess moisture trickles from the base of the pot.
If the pothos is watered too lightly, then only the top inch or so, of soil becomes moist and the water does not reach the roots where it is required.
How to Revive a Dying Pothos with Curling Leaves
If the leaves are turning yellow and curling, despite regular watering then the cause is most likely root rot, in which case follow the instructions above under the first subtitle of this article as the same procedure applies.
To avoid pothos leaves turning yellow and curling it is important to…
- Wait until the top inch of the potting soil has dried before watering. Pothos does not tolerate consistently damp soil, so check the soils moisture with your finger to determine whether the top inch of the soil has dried. If the soil feels moist then delay watering. If the soil feels somewhat dry, this is the perfect time to water your pothos.
- Plant pothos in well draining potting soil. If the soil has been compacted then water cannot drain efficiently, which promotes the conditions for root rot. Repot pothos with 2/3’s regular potting soil and 1/3 pine bark based orchid potting mix, to increase the drainage and emulate the porous, aerated soil conditions of the pothos native environment
- Plant pothos in pots with drainage holes in the base and empty saucers and trays of water regularly. This ensures that water can drain effectively from the bottom of the pot so that the soil can dry somewhat between each bout of watering in order to replicate the typical cycle of soil moisture in the pothos plant’s native environment.
If the pothos leaves are curling but not necessarily turning yellow or exhibiting any other symptoms of root rot then dry are conditions are usually the course, in which case…
- Always water pothos with a thorough watering, so that excess water trickles from the base of the pot. This ensures that the moisture has reached the roots where it is required. Always wait until the top inch of the soil has dried before watering again to ensure the optimal balance of moisture.
- If the soil is really dry, it may repel water from the surface, rather then infiltrate the soil to reach the roots. In which case, submerge the root ball in a basin of water for 10 minutes to allow the water to absorb properly. This is often necessary if you have not watered your pothos for a long while.
- Increase the humidity by misting the pothos leaves once every few days. Misting the leaves helps to create a humid micro-climate which mimics the conditions of the pothos humid tropical environment. Increased humidity slows that rate of water loss which alleviates the drought stress that causes the leaves to curl. It may be necessary to increase how often you mist your pothos in Winter when the air tends to be lower in humidity due to indoor heating.
- Move the pothos so that it is not directly next to a source of heat. Pothos can easily tolerate the temperature range of a typical house, but indoor heating can increase the rate at which the soil dries and cause the leaves to curl so move the pothos to a location away from the source of heat.
- Locate the pothos in an area of bright, indirect light rather then full sunlight. Too much direct sunlight scorches the leaves and dries out the plant which can cause the leaves to curl. Too much shade can cause the growth to be too leggy, so the optimal balance is bright, indirect ligh to help promotes healthy growth.
Pothos recovers much better from dry conditions then from overwatering, so if you leaves are curling due to drought stress then the pothos should easily make a recovery once the conditions are adjusted to be more favorable.
Pothos Dying After Repotting
- Symptoms. Pothos plants often droop, or perhaps turn yellow with a dying appearance after repotting.
- Causes. Potting soil does not drains efficiently, pot does not have drainage holes in the base or the pot is too large and retains too much moisture, resulting in root rot.
The reason for pothos dying after repotting is usually because the potting soil retains too much moisture. Pothos requires well draining soil and does not tolerate consistently damp soil. If the soil is too damp after repotting the pothos leaves turn yellow with a drooping, dying appearance due to root rot.
Pothos grows naturally in well draining, porous soil that retains some moisture, yet allows excess water to drain away from the roots efficiently.
The potting soil can remain too damp for the pothos plant to tolerate for several reasons.
- The soil has been firmed in around the pothos roots with too much force. This pushes air out of the soil, resulting in less porous soil that can stay damp for too long.
- The new pot is significantly larger then the old pot. Larger pots have a greater capacity for more soil and therefore a greater capacity for retaining moisture. This means the new larger pot retains too much moisture for too long which can result in root rot, turning the leaves yellow.
- The new potting soil may also retain moisture for much longer then the previous potting mix, which also promotes the conditions for root rot.
- The new pot may not have drainage holes in the base which can cause water to pool around the roots and cause root rot.
How to Revive a Dying Pothos Plant After Repotting
- Always repot pothos plants to a pot that is one size larger then the previous pot. This ensures that the potting soil dries at a similar rate to the previous pot and mitigates the risk of root rot.
- Repot pothos plants in a well draining potting mix that replicates the soil conditions of the pothos plant’s native environment. Typically 2/3’s ordinary potting soil mixed with 1/3 orchid potting mix or succulent and cacti potting mix helps to replicate the preferred well draining soil conditions to mitigate the risk of root rot and the pothos dying after repotting.
- Ensure that the new pot has drainage holes in the base and empty any saucers and trays that are underneath the pot, regularly. This ensures that excess water is not pooling around the roots of the pothos plant to avoid root rot after repotting.
If the leaves are turning progressively yellow and the vines are drooping with a dying appearance then follow the steps outlined under the first subtitle of this article to address root rot and to save the pothos.
Revive Pothos Plant That is Not Growing
The reason for a pothos plant not growing is usually because the pothos is dormant in Winter which reduces its growth rate or due to a combination of unfavorable cold temperatures, lack of sun, not enough water and not enough nutrients in the soil to support growth.
Pothos usually slows down its growth in response to fewer hours of light, lower light intensity and cooler temperatures during Winter. Sometimes the leaves can start to fall off in response to lower levels of light.
During its period of Winter dormancy it is important to reduce how often you water the pothos as the demand for water decreases in correlation with fewer hours of sunlight.
The pothos roots draws up less moisture when the plant is not actively growing so the potting soil typically dries out at a slower rate compared to Spring, Summer and Fall.
Always ensure that the top inch of the soil is dry before you water, to reduce the risk of root rot during Winter.
It is also important to avoid applying fertilizer during Winter dormancy as this can harm the plant.
In the Spring with more hours of light, the pothos starts actively growing again, at which point you can apply fertilizer to promote growth.
If the pothos is not growing in the Spring or Summer then move the pothos to a bright area with more light (avoid direct sunlight as this can scorch the leaves).
Lift the pothos out of the pot to check whether the roots are pot bound.
If they are pot bound the roots do not have enough access to nutrients and this is the reason why the pothos plant is not growing.
Repot the pothos in a pot one size larger then the previous pot and repot with new, well draining potting soil as the old potting soil is probably exhausted of nutrients.
Apply a general houseplant fertilizer at half strength, once a month to promote growth in the Spring and Summer.
Always water the pothos with a good soak to ensure the soil is evenly moist as drought stress can reduce the rate of growth and water consistently as soon as the top inch of the soil has dried out.
Pothos thrives in the temperature range of most houses, but avoid locating the pothos too near a source of heat as this can sap moisture too quickly or on a window sill that is too cold and draughty as this can also contribute to the rate of growth slowing.
Once you have adjust the conditions the pothos should start to actively grow again in the Spring and Summer.
- Usually the reason for a dying pothos is because the soil is too damp from overwatering or poor drainage. Pothos plants need well draining soil, with the top inch drying between each watering. If the soil is damp the pothos leaves turn yellow and drooping with a dying appearance due to root rot.
- The reason for pothos leaves growing leggy is because the pothos plant’s vines are not pruned back often enough or due to a lack of light. Pothos are climbing plants that naturally grow leggy vines. Prune the vines regularly To keep the plant compact and to avoid a leggy appearance.
- The reason for pothos leaves curling is usually because of overwatering or dry conditions. Overwatering can cause dying roots which results in the curling leaves that turn yellow. If the pothos is in dry conditions with lower humidity, the leaves curl to reduce their surface area, to limit water loss.
- The reason for pothos plants dying after repotting is usually root rot due to compacted soil, pot size being to large or poor drainage. Pothos requires the top inch of the soil to dry out between each watering. If the potting soil is consistently damp after repotting due to poor drainage the pothos leaves turn yellow with a dying appearance.
- Usually the reason for a pothos not growing is the plant is dormant during Winter in response to fewer hours of daylight and a lower light intensity The pothos should start actively growing again in the Spring. Nutrient poor soil, cold temperatures and not enough water can also contribute to a pothos plant not growing.
- To revive a dying pothos recreate the conditions of its natural environment by mist the leaves to increase humidity, allow the top inch of soil to dry before watering again and locate the pothos in bright, indirect light. Snip back any diseased roots and vines back to healthy green growth and help the pothos revive.