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Why are my pothos leaves turning yellow?

Wondering why are my Pothos leaves turning yellow? Let’s diagnose this common problem and get your plant healthy again!

Pothos (epipremnum aureum) are a super popular houseplant. They come in many varieties, but what most have in common is that they are super easy to keep happy, grow quickly, and propagate easily too.

So, if your pothos isn’t doing well, you might be a little puzzled.

Kind of like how snake plant was one of my first plants – it had a tag on it that said IRON PLANT HARD TO KILL – and I killed it within the month.

Even easy plants can have problems and need some troubleshooting.

So, today we are going to chat about yellowing leaves on a pothos plant and what to do about them!

why are my pothos leaves yellowing

Why is my pothos turning yellow?

Here are a few common reasons that you might get pothos yellowing leaves.

  • Overwatering
  • Low humidity
  • Inconsistant watering
  • Insufficient light
  • Root bound plant
  • Bacterial Leaf Spot
  • Pests
  • Old age
  • Nutrient deficiency
  • Environmental factors
  • Water quality
  • Shock


Overwatering is the #1 cause of yellowing leaves on most indoor house plants. In general, plants don’t like to sit in excess water. Pooling water can lead to root rot which will kill your plant.

If you suspect overwatering, stick your finger about 2 inches into the soil. Does it feel wet? Don’t water again until it dries out.

If your plant is way over watered, take it out of the pot. Dump out any excess water and wet soil and re-pot with fresh potting mix.

Be sure that your pot has drainage holes to prevent excess water from pooling in the future.

yellow leaf on a golden pothos

Low humidity

I find this to be MUCH less frequent than over watering, but low humidity can cause leaf drop. Usually the leaves will get brown, crispy spots on them (often on the tips). Then, the leaves might turn yellow.

These symptoms indicate that the plant is drying out. If it’s being watered well, misting the leaves can help to improve humidity in the air.

Inconsistant watering

In my experience, pothos plants are NOT very picky. However, some claim that they like to be on a watering schedule.

For example, I water my pothos plants every Sunday. There is a big asterisk there – if the pot still feels damp from last week, I don’t water again.

My husband used to keep pothos in his cubicle and he watered them just a teeny splash five days a week.

Both plants were happy. But maybe they were like a toddler, just happy to be on a schedule.

Going from bone dry to soaking wet at random intervals could stress out your plant and lead to yellowing leaves.

If in doubt, establish a regular watering schedule and try to stick to it.

yellow leaf on a golden pothos

Insufficient light

Pothos can live (but won’t thrive) in low light situations. I had one in a windowless laundry room for two years. It basically didn’t grow – but the overhead light was enough to keep it alive.

However, if your plant isn’t getting enough light, the leaves will start to turn yellow and drop. This will especially happen to older leaves towards the base of the plant.

The cure to this is to move your plant into bright, indirect light. It will be much happier.

Root Bound Plant

It is possible that your pothos plant has become root bound. Basically, the roots are too big for the pot.

Pull it out of the pot and see! If it’s been there a while – this is a real possibility.

If the roots are tightly packed or even poking out the drainage hole – time for a bigger pot. Add fresh potting soil while you are at it for a happier plant!

yellow leaf on a golden pothos

Bacterial Leaf Spot

Soft,, brown, mushy spots on a leaf are called Bacterial Leaf Spots. This come from water sitting on the leaves and rotting them.

Remove all effected leaves and avoid getting the leaves wet when you water it!


Pest attacks can happen, though I have never had it happen to my pothos in the over a decade (!) I have owned these plants.

Spider mites, scale, and mealy bugs can get on the underside of leaves and suck the nutrients out of your plant.

If you suspect pests, isolate your plant to help prevent it from spreading to other plants.

yellow leaf on a golden pothos

Old age

As plants get older, it is natural for some of the older leaves to yellow and fall off, making room for new growth. Keeping a leaf green takes energy, and some plants decide to allocate that energy to new plants.

If this is the case, you will have yellowing of older leaves – near the base of the plant – only, and not new growth.

Nutrient deficiency

A nutrient deficiency, such as lack of nitrogen or iron, can cause yellowing leaves in Pothos plants.

The best solution if you suspect a nutrient deficiency is to repot in fresh, nutrient-rich soil or to fertilize.

Golden Pothos and Neon Pothos

Water quality

Poor water quality, such as high levels of salts or minerals, can cause yellowing leaves in Pothos plants.

If you suspect that you have low quality water, consider using rain water instead.

Environmental factors

Extreme temperatures, drafts, or sudden changes in temperature can cause yellowing leaves in Pothos plants.

If you suspect that environmental changes have effected your plant, try to reverse them back to normal.


New pothos plants or newly planted cuttings can go into shock and drop leaves. Usually this is just solved with time!

yellow leaf on a snow queen pothos

FAQs about yellowing pothos leaves

What do you do when pothos leaves turn yellow?

When your pothos plant’s leaves start turning yellow, that is a warning sign that it is likely in distress. If a lot of leaves turn yellow and drop, it’s a lot of stress. Time to take action! Diagnose the problem from the list above and do your best to treat it.

Can Yellow pothos leaves turn green again?

No, yellow or dead leaves will not turn green again. Once they lose their chloroform, the plant abandons them and moves on. #ruthless

Should I remove yellow leaves from pothos?

Removing yellowing leaves is a personal preference. I tend to tug on them lightly and if they pop off easily, I pop them off.

You can read my complete guide to removing dead leaves here!

What does an overwatered pothos look like?

Overwatered pothos get limp, yellow leaves that drop and fall off. They can also get mushy brown or black spots on the leaves.

Do pothos leaves turn yellow in fall?

No, Pothos leaves don’t change seasonally like a maple tree. If your plant’s leaves are yellowing, it indicates a problem. Maybe the cool weather is getting it if it is outdoors.

marble queen pothos with a yellow leaf

Why are my Pothos leaves turning yellow and brown

If your pothos leaves are turning yellow and crispy brown, that indicates it needs more water or humidity. If it is mushy brown and yellow, that indicated overwatering and potentially root rot.

Why are my pothos leaves turning brown?

Brown crispy pothos leaves indicate not enough water, low humidity, or too much direct sunlight.

Why are my pothos leaves turning yellow with black spots?

If your pothos leaves are yellow with black spots, it is severely overwatered. Pull it out of the pot, dump any excess, add new dry potting soil, and repot them in a pot with drainage holes. Only water your pothos when the soil feels dry to the touch.

Why is my pothos leaves turning yellow after repotting?

Yellowing leaves can indicate stress or shock. Moving a plant can cause stress. Be sure it has plenty of drainage, is not over or under watered, and is getting enough light.

Before you go…

One of the most common problems with pothos is lack of humidity. Check out our complete guide on misting your pothos to work on improving the humidity of your plant!

Any more questions about yellowing pothos leaves?!

Other pothos content you might enjoy:

Printable Pothos Plant Care Guide

Join the (free!) KeepYourPlantsAlive+ community to access this exclusive printable plant care guide! Or keep scrolling for more!

Pothos plant care guide

Thanks for reading!

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