Pothos plants have incredible foliage and are pretty easy to care for so their popularity has soared in recent years. Dorning every bookshelf from New York to Sydney, these incredible hanging plants are definitely one of our favourite houseplant types. However, it can happen that the gorgeous leaves start to turn brown if something isn’t quite right which is pretty worrying for us plant parents.
In this post, we will be covering the different causes of brown Pothos leaves, as well as how to fix the issue and prevent any more brown leaves from occurring.
Lack of humidity
If your Pothos has brown dry leaf tips rather than the leaves fully turning brown, then a lack of humidity is the most probable cause. Pothos plants will struggle in homes with quite dry air, especially in winter where heating and a lack of ventilation can leave the air in your home a lot dryer than in summer.
But don’t worry, if dry air is the cause of the brown leaf tips then there are some really easy and cheap solutions that will prevent the problem from getting any worse.
Mist your plant every few days
This is one of the easiest ways to increase the humidity for your Pothos and solve the issue of brown leaf tips. Mist the leaves of your Pothos several times per week with a spray bottle. It’s best to mist your Pothos earlier in the day so the water droplets will evaporate off the plant before temperatures fall at night. If the leaves of your Pothos are still wet when in cold temperatures, it can cause the leaves to rot which can kill your plant and cause more than just brown leaf tips.
Give your Pothos a shower
Another easy method to prevent brown leaf tips on your Pothos is showering your plant. Regularly washing your plant down with water also gets rid of dust and potential pests that might be on your Pothos so we recommend doing it every few months even if there aren’t any brown leaves. Make sure to shower your Pothos with temperate water so you don’t shock or burn your plant.
Placement in your home
Depending on the light levels and amount of space you have in your bathroom or kitchen, it can be a good idea to move your Pothos in there. The humidity level in these rooms is often higher than in other areas of your home because of the steam released when showering and cooking. Just don’t put your plant too close to the cooker or the intense heat will burn the leaves and cause more brown patches on the leaves.
Use a humidifier
If you find yourself forgetting to mist or bathe your plant, then the humidifier is the best option. They can be really affordable and will raise the humidity without you really needing to do very much. We couldn’t recommend them more!!
If you want to know more about how to raise the humidity for your Pothos then check out our humidity guide.
Consistent overwatering is another reason why your Pothos has developed brown leaves. Pothos plants don’t like sitting in puddles of water for long periods of time but will forgive you if you overwater once or twice. If the problem persists then it will start to rot the root system which cuts off your plant from nutrients and oxygen. This then prevents your Pothos from photosynthesising properly and the leaves will turn brown.
To figure out if overwatering is the reason your Pothos is turning dropping leaves (as you don’t want to hold off watering your Pothos if this isn’t the cause of the brown leaves), check the moisture levels in the soil immediately. If the soil is quite waterlogged and clumpy then replace it with fresh dry mix.
Trim away any leaves and roots that have turned brown and soft, rotten roots as you don’t want your Pothos wasting precious energy on these. To prevent any more brown leaves from occurring, adjust your watering schedule moving forward, so you aren’t watering your Pothos as much or as often as you were before.
Another cause of brown Pothos leaves is consistent underwatering. If this is the case, the leaves will be a lighter brown than when overwatered and will feel quite dry and crispy.
To check that underwatering is the cause of the brown leaves on your Pothos plant, take your plant out of its pot to inspect the root system and potting mix or use a moisture meter.
If your Pothos is suffering from a lack of water, slowly reintroduce water to your plant rather than drowning it. You don’t want to shock your Pothos as this can cause several other issues. Water them once a day for a week and this should help your Pothos get back to their normal self.
Too much fertiliser
Although slightly less common, overfertilization can also cause brown Pothos leaf tips. Pothos plants really don’t need much fertiliser and you can even skip it altogether if you’d prefer. At most, you want to be fertilising a couple of times throughout the growth period of spring and summer and not at all during the cold dark months of autumn and winter. If you’re fertilising more than this, or not diluting your water-soluble fertiliser enough, then it could be the cause of the brown leaves on your Pothos.
If you have been using fertiliser dissolved in the water, then it’s an easy fix as you just stop adding it in. However, it’s a little more effort to remove if it’s mixed in the potting mix. Dig out any spikes that you have added in and replace the potting mix entirely if you have sprinkled fertiliser pellets. Hold off fertilising for several months to give your Pothos time to recover.
Those are the most common reasons why your Pothos has developed brown leaves or brown leaf tips. We recommend going through each cause one by one and inspecting your Pothos at the same time. If you have caught the problem early and there are just a few brown leaves on your Pothos, then you should have no problem bringing your plant back to full health. They are quite resilient plants so don’t give up on your Pothos!
Written by Joanna Turner