Common Pothos Problems and Solutions


Pothos plants (Epipremnum aureum) are very popular houseplants. They are very easy to grow and propagate. They also have very attractive heart-shaped leaves with different colors, depending on the cultivar.

Since you’re here, reading this article, you have most likely had some issues with your pothos plants. Don’t worry, we will address all of these issues and how to solve them.

Pothos Problems

As mentioned before pothos plants are low-maintenance and great for beginners, but there are things you should know about.

#1 Stretched Vines

Healthy pothos plants have a lot of leaves right next to each other. However, if grown in a location that does not have access to a lot of sunlight, the stems will start to stretch and the leaves will be more far apart.

Pothos plants can tolerate low light conditions to a certain point. During dark winters pothos plants should be placed near the south-facing window to get the maximum amount of sunlight. The best spot for pothos plants is in bright indirect sunlight.

How To Fix?

Place pothos plants in a brighter spot with more sunlight exposure, but not in the direct sun. If that is not a possibility, buy artificial plant lights.

pothos with stretched vines
Here’s a pothos plant with clearly too little exposure to sunlight, some vines are without any leaves at all. When pothos is grown in this manner in a hanging basket, it is normal to have more stretched vines and fewer leaves, but this pothos needs more sunlight. Source: Schezar

#2 Yellowing Leaves

Yellowing pothos leaves is a common problem that indoor gardeners experience, unless you’re growing neon pothos, then it is not a problem. Yellowing leaves are caused by a lack of nutrients.

Overwatered Pothos

Pothos plants cannot absorb nutrients through their roots when there is an abundance of water in the soil. The roots will start to rot eventually. If the stems are unusually mushy, then you have to take action immediately.

How To Fix?

Always use a pot with drainage holes. After watering pour away all the excess water from the bottom of the container. Water pothos plants when the top inch of the soil is completely dry. Add perlite or sand to the regular potting mix if this becomes an issue regularly.

If the leaves are already yellowing and the stem is mushy, take the plant out of the container and clean away all the soil. Use clean and sterilized tools to cut away brown roots. Replant into new soil that is very slightly moist.

Lack of Nutrients

Yellowing leaves can also happen to due a lack of nutrients in the soil. If you planted your new pothos into old potting soil, or if pothos has not been fertilized for a while they can have yellow leaves.

How To Fix?

Feed the pothos plant with an all-purpose liquid fertilizer, and dilute it according to the packaging of the fertilizer.

#3 Curling Leaves

Leaves of pothos plants start to curl inwards when exposed to too much sunlight. Many houseplants need to acclimatize to actual sunlight when they are grown indoors. Even in the partial shade, it might not be a good idea to expose the pothos plant to the intense sun outdoors for a full day if the plant is not used to it.

How To Fix?

Place the pothos plant in a place with bright indirect sunlight.

#4 Brown Leaves

Leaves of pothos plants can turn brown at the tips or have irregular brown spots on the leaves.

Brown Tips

Brown tips are usually caused by a lack of humidity in the room or underwatering.

How To Fix?

Keep the relative humidity in the room above 40 %rh, which can be hard to do in cold climates in houses with central heating. Buy a humidifier and place it next to the plant.

A more natural way to do this is to place a plate or tray next to or below the plant and fill it with water and pebbles. Natural evaporation will keep the humidity higher locally near the plant. This will not be sufficient when the humidity levels are really low.

If the humidity is above 40% RH, you’re most likely underwatering the pothos plant. When the top inch of the soil is dry, you should give pothos some water.

underwatered pothos
Underwatered pothos

Brown Spots

Brown spots are caused by too much sunlight or a disease like Southern Blight or Bacterial Wilt.

How To Fix?

If the pothos plant is not exposed to direct sun, prune away all the brown leaves and throw them away in the garbage. If the disease has established you might have to throw away the entire plant to save other houseplants.

When some parts of the pothos plant are exposed to the sun and they only these leaves have brown spots on them, just move the plant to a spot without direct light.

#5 Less Variegation

There are many cultivars of pothos available, like Neon pothos, Jessenia pothos, Hawaiian pothos, Marble Queen pothos, N’joy pothos, and so on. A lot of them lose their color, when they do not have access to enough sunlight.

How To Fix?

Give your pothos more sunlight, if that is not possible, buy artificial plant lights. Another option is to accept that the pothos plant will be more green and not as variegated as you hoped.

#6 Spotted Leaves

Pothos plants can have colorful spots naturally, depending on the cultivar. However, spots that are yellow or brownish can be an indicator of a pest infestation. Thrips, whiteflies, aphids, spider mites are common pests that feed on pothos plants.

How To Fix?

Identify if you have a pest infestation, check the soil after watering and check the underside of the leaves. If there are things moving around and leaves have unusual texture, you probably have pests.

First, shower your plant, but be careful not to waterlog the soil. Gentle water pressure will remove most of the pests from the plant. If you still see pests having the time of their life around your pothos plant, you might need to use insecticidal soaps or horticultural oils. Neem oil is efficient against pests.


Pothos plants are wonderful houseplants and are easy to grow. However, from time to time you might be wondering what might be wrong with your plant. We hope you received an answer or even multiple answers to your problems from us!

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