Why is my Devil’s Ivy dying?

Last Updated: February 8, 2023

One of our favourite houseplants, the Devil’s Ivy is such an incredible cascading houseplant. However, although it can adapt to a range of environments slightly better than a lot of other houseplant types, it’s still very susceptible to the same common problems we so often face. 

Below we will take you through each of the potential causes of a dying Devil’s Ivy plant so you can diagnose the issue and start reviving your Pothos.

Overwatering can kill a Devil’s Ivy plant

Too much water in the soil of your Devil’s Ivy can quite quickly cause the roots to rot which prevents the plant from getting the needed moisture and nutrients. The most common signs of your plant dying due to overwatering are yellow leaves, soft leaves and stems, and drooping leaves. As the problem progresses it can also cause the damaged leaves to fall off your plant. 

To check if your plant is suffering from overwatering and root rot, the best thing to do is to take your plant out of its pot immediately and inspect the root system. You are looking for two things here; firstly, if the soil is waterlogged and secondly if the roots have started to rot. 

Carefully trim away any rotten roots (these will be soft to touch and appear very dark in colour) as these won’t come back to life. Removing them from your plant encourages new healthy roots to grow. 

If the potting mix is still quite soggy and waterlogged, replace it immediately instead of waiting for it to naturally dry out as this risks causing more harm to your Devil’s Ivy. This will help to revive your dying plant and help it perk up a little. 

Over the next few weeks, make sure that you are cutting back on either how much or how frequently you watered your Devil’s Ivy to ensure the soil has time to dry out. You want to also make sure you are removing any excess water that has run out of the drainage holes so that your plant isn’t sitting in water for days on end. A good habit to get into is removing the excess water 15 minutes after watering as this allows your plant enough time to take in what it needs. 

Moving forward, using a moisture meter is a great way to know when it’s time for more water. These can really help prevent both underwatering and overwatering and help you adjust your watering schedule depending on the seasons and other external factors. 

Underwatering can also cause your Devil’s Ivy to die

Like overwatering, too little water can also be harmful to your plant. Although the issue progresses a bit slower, if the soil is consistently dry then it will start to have an impact on your Devil’s Ivy’s health. If you notice that your plant is losing some of its lower leaves, it may be due to underwatering, as it prioritises new healthy growth over its older leaves. Other signs to look out for on your dying plant are dry brown leaves, leaf tips and leaf edges as well as a drooping plant and stagnant growth. 

Stick a finger in the top few centimetres of the soil to check the moisture or remove your plant from the pot. If you find that your Devil’s Ivy is very dry, water it a little every other day for a week and this should solve the problem.

In future, as with overwatering, it’s important that you adjust your watering schedule so that the potting mix isn’t dry for extended periods of time.

Low humidity levels could be harming your Pothos

If your Devil’s Ivy has developed brown spots or edges on the leaves then dry air is a common cause. Luckily this is quite a simple issue to both diagnose and treat. We recommend picking up a humidity monitor to check the level. These often come in a humidity and temperature combo which is great for plant care. 

To treat the issue, here are a few simple ways to increase the humidity for your Devil’s Ivy:

  1. Mist the leaves regularly

    Use a spray bottle to mist the leaves a few times a week. This also gets rid of any dust on the leaves so it’s a great habit to get into whether your plant is dying or not.

  2. Use a pebble tray

    Fill up a tray of pebbles and fill halfway with water. Place your plant on top and the water will evaporate around it, increasing the humidity level. It requires a little initial DIY but once you’ve got it set up the maintenance is fairly low.

  3. Wash down your plant

    This is a great way to instantly boost the humidity but it is a shorter-term solution.

  4. Move to the bathroom/ kitchen

    Pothos plants thrive in bathrooms with great light because the humidity level is naturally higher because of steam released when showering. It can be a great idea to move your dying Devil’s Ivy in here to give it a natural humidity boost.

  5. Buy a humidifier

    This is the long-term solution to humidity issues and the best thing you can invest in if your plant is really struggling.

A dying Devil’s Ivy can indicate a lack of sunlight

Although Devil’s Ivy plants are great low-light houseplants, there is a limit and if your plant isn’t getting enough light then it can start dying as a result. You will often see the vines become quite leggy as the first sign of trouble but other symptoms include droopy vines, small leaves and leaf drop. 

To solve the issue make sure you place them somewhere they receive several hours of bright light. They shouldn’t be directly next to a window, as direct light will cause other issues for your Pothos so it is about finding the right balance.

It can be a good idea to move your Devil’s Ivy around depending on the seasons. In the winter months, when the sun isn’t as strong it might be necessary to move your plant a little closer to the window to make use of the limited sunlight as best as possible. But come summer, you want to avoid it being exposed to high levels of direct sunshine.

Too much sunlight can also be an issue

As we just mentioned, too much sunlight can really damage your Devil’s Ivy. If there are yellow scorched patches on the leaves then one possible cause is sunburn. They can cope with a little direct sunlight but not high levels during the height of summer. 

Unfortunately, any sunburn occurred is irreversible but you can prevent further scorching by moving your plant to a different spot in your home. Luckily this shouldn’t have damaged too much of the overall plant as the root system will still be healthy so your plant shouldn’t die on you.

Over-fertilization can cause your Devil’s Ivy to start dying

If none of the other causes seem to match up with why your Devil’s Ivy is dying, then it may be due to over-fertilisation. These plants really don’t need regular feeding, in fact, we often don’t fertilize them at all because they are such fast growers anyway! 

Over-fertilization can be a little tricky to diagnose but symptoms include yellow scorched patches on the leaves, stunted or very small growth and fertilizer build-up on top of the soil and around the roots. 

Make sure you aren’t fertilising at all during autumn and winter as this is a more dormant growth period so your Devil’s Ivy won’t need any feed.

When you are fertilising during spring and summer, 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 and you’ll need to adjust for each plant.

To solve the issue, replace the potting mix or if you have used fertilizer spikes, remove those. Then moving forward hold off fertilizing your plant for at least a year. 

Pests are a worrying cause of a dying Devil’s Ivy

Although fairly rare, Devil’s Ivys can begin to die if they are infested with pests. Insects such as mealybugs or spider mites can make your plant their home, sucking on and exhausting the leaves. Over time these leaves will begin to fall off the plant.

Other than actually spotting pests on your plant, other symptoms to look out for include small yellow or brown spots, holes in the leaves and white webbing or white powder across the stems. 

Although spotting pests isn’t always difficult, treating them can be a bit of a pain. Remove the worst affected leaves or vines on your dying plant and replace the potting mix entirely.

This will initially curb the size of the infestation making it easier to treat. Then shower your plant and treat it with neem oil and an insecticide.

Those are the most common causes of a dying Devil’s Ivy plant. It’s important that once you’ve made any changes to either your plant’s environment or the care routine, that you keep a close eye on your plant for the next few weeks. This will make sure that you spot any other signs of trouble and ensure things are moving in the right direction. 

To learn more about your plant’s care requirements, check out our Devil’s Ivy care guide.

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