Why Pothos Plant Leaves Turning Yellow?

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Heart-shaped leaves, cascading stems and easy care are just some of the attributes that make photos plants a top choice for those that enjoy lush greenery far more than blooming plants.

Photos plant leaves will often turn yellow if something is amiss in the plant’s keeping conditions or environment. While yellowing leaves is not a good omen, some of the causes of this phenomenon can be easily remedied.

These plants have a reputation of being undemanding and hardy, but that doesn’t mean that they’ll do well even if not cared for properly.

If you’re worried about the causes behind yellowing pothos leaves, I encourage you to read this article in which I examine the reasons why the leaves on your pothos plant are becoming pale and offer easy-to-follow solutions to the problem.

Here’s an overview of the common reasons why your pothos plant may have yellow leaves:

  1. Excess direct sunlight
  2. Underwatering / Overwatering
  3. Fertilizing issues
  4. Old leaves falling off
  5. Extreme temperatures
  6. Fungal diseases

In my experience, of all these causes, excess sunlight may be the most common issue that could explain why the healthy green leaves of your plant are turning pale.

Let’s examine each cause a bit closer and see what you can do to remedy the situation.

Leaves Turning Yellow Because of Excess Sunlight

This is not something unique to pothos plants. In fact, the leaves of most plants that don’t tolerate direct sunlight will turn yellow.

Pothos plants will benefit from bright, indirect light, but can also tolerate some shade. What they can’t tolerate is direct sunlight, so make sure to find a different location for your plant if you notice that it’s getting too much direct light.

Leaves Turning Yellow Because of Overwatering / Underwatering

An extreme watering regimen — both too little and too much water — can also trigger leaf discoloration issues.

When the plant gets too little water, it gets into survival mode. Leaves will turn yellow and eventually fall off the plant.

Because overwatering can also turn the leaves yellow, yellow leaves can be a symptom of both these extremes.

The reason why overwatering can also cause changes in the color of the leaves is because of root rot. Once the roots start rotting because of the excess water, nutrient delivery is cut off from the leaves, and they start to change their color.

If you’re underwatering your plant, the fix is easy — adjust your watering regimen and you’ll notice an improvement.

If you’re overwatering, you’ll also need to adjust your watering routine, but if the roots are too far damaged by rotting, it may already be too late.

To prevent root rot, let the soil dry out before watering the plant and always check that the soil is no longer moist by sticking your finger halfway into the soil.

Leaves Turning Yellow Because of Fertilizing Issues

Pothos plants can thrive even without fertilizer but adding some during the growing season can help it thrive even better.

A poor quality fertilizer or too much or fertilizing too often can also trigger changes in the color of the leaves. If too much nutrients build up in the soil, they can cause toxicity that will damage the plant.

Using a good quality fertilizer sparingly will not cause problems. If you’ve put too much fertilizer, you’ll need to flush the soil to get rid of the excess fertilizer.

Old Leaves Falling Off

Sometimes your pothos plant will have yellowing leaves for completely benign reasons — shedding of old leaves. A completely natural process that goes on in many plants including pothos plants.

Key in finding out if this is the case with your pothos plant, is determining the location of the yellow leaves. If they’re next to the bottom of the stem, the plant is simply renewing its leaves and it’s nothing to worry about.

Of course, you’ll still need to exclude all the other potential reasons before you can arrive at the conclusion that your pothos plant is simply just renewing its leaves.

Leaves Turning Yellow Because of Extreme Temperatures

When looking for a place to keep your pothos plant, there are a few places to avoid. Don’t put the plant close to heating vents, air conditioning units, a fireplace, or any other strong source of heat, or a place where the plant can be exposed to cold draft.

These plants do best in temperatures between 70°F and 90°F, temperatures outside this range, especially if they go well beyond these numbers will cause tissue damage and leaves will turn yellow.

Avoid temperature fluctuations, especially the extreme kind, and you’ll prevent leaf discoloration issues in the future.

Fungal diseases

This cause is tied to overwatering issues or damp soil, which can cause all sorts of issues including poor nutrition and root rot, which are eventually going to show on the leaves of your pothos plants.

Make sure you understand your plant’s watering needs and adjust your watering habits. You should also increase the ventilation around the plant to prevent mold.

Mold on houseplants is common in damp areas which are further sustained by overwatering, so it’s important to make changes in the environment of your plant.

Leaves that have already turned yellow will not revert back to their natural color, but you’ll prevent other leaves from turning yellow. You can prune damaged leaves.

Conclusion

As an undemanding plant, the pothos plant is a good option for those that aren’t well versed in plant care but are willing to invest a little time in caring for their houseplants.

As I described in this article, many things can be blamed for causing yellow leaves on your pothos, and some of those reasons are quite benign.

That said, many reasons are linked to a faulty understanding of how you should care for pothos plants. Whenever you notice that something is off with your plant, always go back to the basics and see if there’s something that you need to change.

It’s good to start with the usual culprits such as excess sun exposure, changes in temperature, and watering issues.

Updated: April 17, 2020

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