Loved for their silver speckled leaves, Satin Pothos plants can be a little bit tricky to care for if they aren’t in the right environment or receiving ideal care. It can be pretty devastating to see that your plant has started to develop yellow leaves so it’s important you figure out exactly what’s causing the problem so you can bring your plant back to full health.
The main causes of yellow leaves on Satin Pothos plants are a range of water and sunlight issues mixed with rarer problems such as pests and fertiliser issues. Below you’ll find a detailed explanation of each problem as well as how to fix it!
Too much water is the most common cause of yellow leaves on a Satin Pothos
Although they like some moisture in the soil, they don’t like sitting in soggy potting mix for too long. Waterlogged soil will often cause the roots to rot and this prevents the plant from getting the needed moisture and nutrients. Alongside yellow leaves, overwatering can cause your Satin Pothos to turn soft and droopy.
If you suspect that your plant is turning yellow due to overwatering, the best thing to do is to take your plant out of its pot immediately and inspect the root system. Before you cut back on watering, it’s best to be 100% sure that root rot is the issue as underwatering can cause a whole range of issues in itself. If the root system has started to rot, trim away the worst affected areas to encourage new roots to grow. And if the potting mix is still quite soggy and waterlogged, it’s important that you replace it immediately. Waiting for it to naturally dry out risks more damage to the plant.
Moving forward, to help your Satin Pothos recover and to prevent more of the leaves from discolouring, adjust your watering schedule so you are only keeping a little bit of moisture in the soil, rather than it being soggy. Make sure you remove any excess water that has run out of the drainage holes so that your Satin Pothos’ roots aren’t sitting in a pool of water.
There are a few ways you can tell if it’s time to water your plant. Firstly, the finger method is where you press your finger into the soil a couple of inches. If your finger is coming out dry and clean then you likely need to water again. Using a moisture meter is the most reliable method of knowing how much moisture is in the soil as your routine will have to adjust depending on the seasons and placement of your plant.
Drainage issues can also be the cause of the yellow leaves
Sometimes it may not be your watering schedule or overwatering that is causing your Satin Pothos to develop yellow leaves, but the poor draining of the potting mix and pot. Luckily, there are a few really easy steps to increase the drainage in the soil.
We recommend adding some perlite to your potting mix as this not only helps with drainage but also aeration of the soil.
Make sure that your pot has some drainage holes to allow for any excess water to run out into the plater or saucer.
Small pebbles and stones
By adding a few small stones or pebbles to the bottom of your pots it ensures that the drainage holes don’t get blocked by clumps of potting mix.
If you’re using plastic plant pots, then this next tip is for you. Plastic pots hold in every drop of moisture, which means if you accidentally overwater, or the drainage holes get blocked up, there’s nowhere for that water to go and it’ll likely damage your plant and cause yellow leaves (among other issues). But by using permeable terracotta pots some of the water in the potting mix can evaporate through the sides.
Yellow Satin Pothos leaves can indicate a lack of humidity
If you’re confident that you’re keeping your watering habits in check, then low humidity could be the cause of your plant’s leaf yellowing. A common telltale sign of a lack of humidity is dry leaf edges before the whole leaf turns yellow.
There are a variety of easy ways to increase the humidity for your Satin Pothos, some of which are free, others which take nearly no effort at all:
Misting the leaves
Use a spray bottle to mist the leaves a few times a week. This also gets rid of dust on the leaves which is a bonus. We recommend only misting your plant in the mornings to give enough time for the moisture to evaporate off the leaves. If your plant is still damp when the temperatures drop at night, then it opens up the risk of leaf rot.
Make a pebble tray
This requires a little DIY but it’s a great solution for Satin Pothos plants that have developed yellow leaves due to a lack of humidity. Fill up a tray or bowl with small stones and fill it up halfway with water. Place your plant on top of the stones and let the water vapour evaporate around your plant throughout the day.
The most important thing when making a pebble tray is to make sure that the water doesn’t reach high enough so that the roots are sitting in water which will risk root rot.
Showering your Satin Pothos
If you’re looking for a quick fix, washing down the leaves is a great way to boost the humidity. It will also get rid of dust and any pests that might be hiding on your plant without you realising. Make sure when you do shower down your plant, that you’re keeping the water pressure low so you don’t damage the leaves or vines.
If you have good lighting in your kitchen or bathroom then we recommend moving your Satin Pothos in there. The humidity level in those rooms is naturally higher because of showering and cooking. Just be careful not to put your plant too close to the cooker or this will burn the leaves pretty quickly and you’ll have a few more problems than just yellow leaves.
Buy a humidifier
If you’re worried about the lack of humidity becoming a real problem, then buying a humidifier is probably the best way to go as it’s the most reliable method of increasing the humidity. It keeps the humidity in the room at a consistent level so you don’t have to worry about a thing. But the benefits of humidifiers don’t stop at your houseplants, they are even great at clearing our skin and helping us get a better nights sleep.
We always recommend this humidifier from Amazon as a great place to start.
Yellow leaves can be caused by too much sunlight
Satin Pothos plants need bright but indirect light to really thrive. They can adjust to lower and medium levels of light but you’ll see less variegation in their leaves which is always a shame. But the one thing that these plants can’t handle, is long periods of direct sunshine. This is especially a problem during summer where the sun is much stronger. It can leave the leaves looking scorched and faded.
If you think that direct sunshine is causing the yellow leaves on your Satin Pothos, try to move your plant a little bit further away from the window so that it doesn’t receive any direct sun. Unfortunately, once your plant’s leaves have burnt, there’s no going back so we recommend trimming off the worst affected leaves to encourage new healthy growth.
Low light can also cause yellow Satin Pothos leaves
As well as too much sunlight, not enough can also cause some yellowing in the leaves of your Satin Pothos. However, it is mostly paired with small leaves and leggy or stunted growth. This is most common during winter where the sun is weaker and out for less of the day.
If you suspect that a lack of natural sunlight is the cause, start by placing your plant nearer to a window. If this happens during winter, you can get away with placing it right by the window as the direct sun rays won’t be as intense as in summer. However, during summer, you’ll want to be a little more cautious as to how much extra sunlight you give your Satin Pothos as too much light can also bring a range of issues as we explain next!
A slightly rarer issue that might be causing the yellow leaves on your Satin Pothos is a pest infestation. The uninvited visitors will suck on the leaves, exhausting them and causing them to turn yellow and eventually fall off!
Most pests are visible to the human eye if we look closely or use a magnifying glass so we can catch the problem by properly and regularly inspecting the leaves. Our recommendation is to take a proper in-depth look at the undersides of the leaves as this is where they like to live.
If you spot pests lurking on your plant the first thing to do is isolate your plant to prevent the infestation from spreading throughout your urban jungle. Then you want to trim off the worst affected leaves and vines to reduce the overall number of insects and curb the growth of the infestation. Then give your plant a wash down in the sink and treat with an insecticide/neem oil.
Over-fertilisation might also be behind the yellow leaves
If you’ve checked the potting mix for root rot, decided that light levels aren’t an issue and don’t find any pests, then another cause may be incorrect fertilisation. Although Satin Pothos plants enjoy monthly feeding during the growth period, too much fertiliser can very quickly cause scorched leaves and yellow patches.
To stop the issue from progressing any further, remove any fertiliser spikes or replace the entire potting mix if the pellets are mixed in. If you’ve been using a water-soluble fertiliser, either replace the potting mix as well or rinse it through properly in the shower.
Make sure you aren’t fertilising your plant during the colder darker months as growth will be dormant and it’ll be quite damaging for your plant. When you do fertilise your plant make sure you are using less than the recommended amount on the bottle. Every houseplant is different, not just the type of plant, but also the size and maturity which means there is no one-fits-all recommended amount so using less is safest.
Natural ageing can cause the odd yellow leaf
There’s one more cause of yellow leaves on Satin Pothos plants which is natural ageing. As your plant grows, it will want to spend the most energy on the new growth which can sometimes mean it drops one of the older leaves. his means that you could find some of the older starting to discolour just with the natural growth and development of the plant itself. This is absolutely nothing to worry about as long as the rate of yellowing is slow (a couple of leaves every year).
So those are the most common reasons why your Satin Pothos has developed yellow leaves. It’s quite a long list so it’s important that you go through the reasons and discount them one by one. If you have caught the issue early, there’s no reason why you can’t bring your plant back to full health by changing up the environment or your care routine. Keep an eye on your plant after making any changes to make sure the issue isn’t getting any worse.
To find out more about how to look after your plant, as well as other common issues and propagation advice, check out our Satin Pothos care guide.
Written by Billy Dawson