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Why is my pothos turning brown?

Wondering why are my Pothos leaves turning brown? 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 browning leaves on a pothos plant and what to do about them!

Other pothos content you might enjoy:

Printable Pothos Plant Care Guide

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Pothos plant care guide
why are my pothos leaves turning brown

Why is my pothos turning brown?

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

  • Under watering
  • Overwatering
  • Low humidity
  • Inconsistant watering
  • Too much light
  • Root bound plant
  • Old age


If your plant is looking brown and crispy, it is likely dry. Check the soil – is it compact and bone dry?

Increase your watering schedule. If the soil is hard and clumped together, you can either break it up a bit or pot it in fresh soil. Water will run right off the top of hard soil.


If your plant is getting brown, mushy leaves, then you might actually be over watering it.

Overwatering is the #1 cause of mushy 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.

brown crunchy dead leaves on a countertop

Low humidity

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

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 brown leaves.

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

Too much light

Pothos can live in low light but do best in bright, indirect light. Bright, direct light can sunburn the leaves and give them white or brown patches.

If the plant has recently been moved to an exposed sunny spot, it might just be too much for the plant.

root rot plant

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!

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.

close up of golden pothos leaves
Golden pothos

Old age

As plants get older, it is natural for some of the older leaves to brown 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 browning of older leaves – near the base of the plant – only, and not new growth.

FAQs about browning pothos leaves

What do you do when pothos leaves turn brown?

When your pothos plant’s leaves start turning brown, that is a warning sign that it is likely in distress. If a lot of leaves turn brown 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 brown pothos leaves turn green again?

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

Should I remove brown leaves from pothos?

Removing browning 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!

cutting brown spot off of fiddle leaf fig plant

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.

Why are my Pothos leaves turning yellow and brown?

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

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.

yellow leaf on a golden pothos

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.

Any more questions about browning pothos leaves?!

Thanks for reading!

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