Pothos is one of the most popular houseplants in the world. It is native to Australia and New Zealand where it grows naturally. It was introduced into other countries such as England, France, Germany, Italy, Japan and South Africa. In fact there are many varieties of pothos plants available today which vary greatly in coloration from pale green to dark red or even black! These variations make them very attractive indoors and outdoors.
There are several types of pothos. Some have long stems with white flowers while others grow short stalks with purple flowers. All types of pothos have small, round leaves that turn yellow when exposed to sunlight. When these leaves become yellow they may look like those found on a dead leaf but they will still retain their usefulness in keeping your home smelling fresh and clean!
Pothos is not only beautiful but it also makes a great addition to any room. You can plant pothos anywhere in your home including the floor, walls, ceiling and even under furniture. It’s easy to care for so you don’t need much space. You can even keep pothos outside if you want to get rid of some of its smell indoors!
Of course over-watering or underwatering pothos is not a good thing because it can cause yellow leaves. Yellow leaves are caused by a number of factors but the below are some of the possible causes.
Overwatering Yellow Leaves on Pothos Plant
Watering is the most common reason why pothos develops yellow leaves. Overwatering pothos causes the roots to rot and this leads to leaf loss.
If your potting mix is not draining well then water doesn’t drain out of the pot as it should. The water just sits in the container and rots the roots of the pothos plant causing them to turn yellow or brown and die off.
Sometimes a plant that is in the right size pot still gets root rot if the potting mix doesn’t have good drainage. The pothos needs a potting mix that drains quickly. If you are growing your plant in the same pot for a long time you should replace the old potting mix with fresh potting mix that has good drainage properties.
Sometimes overwatering can cause yellow leaves even if the potting mix drains well. Pothos plants like most houseplants need to be watered thoroughly until water runs out of the drainage holes. Then don’t water again until the top of the pot is dry to the touch. The top few inches of potting mix might remain slightly damp after the initial watering but if you water again this will soon evaporate.
If you water pothos too much or too little then yellow leaves might develop.
Underwatering Yellow Leaves on Pothos Plant
Underwatering can also cause yellow leaves on pothos plants. If pothos isn’t getting enough water the plant might show signs of yellowing leaves.
Pothos plants can go for long periods without water. In fact they thrive when they are slightly underwatered. They are actually much more likely to suffer from over watering than underwatering. Yellow leaves caused by underwatering will only start showing when the plant has not been watered for a very long time.
If you start seeing yellow leaves on your pothos it probably doesn’t need water. You can’t judge if a plant needs water by the size of its pot or the color of the potting mix. Some plants need less water than others even if they are in the same size pot and potting mix.
Yellow leaves caused by underwatering will usually be at the bottom of the plants and point upwards. The top of the plant is likely to be green.
Pothos plants can’t tolerate frost so if you want to grow it outdoors or in a cold area then you need to take it indoors before the first threat of frost in your area. If pothos stays outdoors and doesn’t get brought indoors before the first threat of frost it will usually survive but it won’t grow and the leaves will turn yellow.
Pothos can grow outside during the summer but will need to be brought inside before the first threat of fall frost.
Pothos plants can be grown outdoors in warm areas such as Florida and Southern California but they must be brought indoors before the first frost.
If you want to grow pothos outside in a cold climate then you need to plant it in a large container that can be brought inside before the first frost. You should also choose a spot that doesn’t get direct sun during the summer and gets a lot of sun in the winter.
Pothos is considered to be fairly pest free but sometimes mealy bugs or thrips will attack it.
Mealybugs look like little bits of white wool and they stick to the underside of the leaves. You might also see ants crawling all over the plant. Ants actually protect mealy bugs because they feed off the honey dew the mealy bugs excrete. If you have a lot of ants on your plant it probably has mealy bugs.
Thrips look like small mosquitoes and they attack the leaves of pothos plants. You might see tiny black specks on the leaves if you have thrips. Thrips are difficult to get rid of so you might have to throw out a plant that has been infected with them.
More Pothos Care Instructions You Need To Know
Pothos Care Tip #1: Fertilize With Pruned Leaves
Pothos are great plants to have in your home because they are nearly indestructible as far as normal houseplants go. However, they do have one big drawback and that’s their need for fertile soil.
Pothos plants are susceptible to root injuries which can greatly affect the health and appearance of the plant. Pothos is a vigorous grower and any root damage will prohibit that vigor from being expressed causing the plant to become stunted in growth and appearance.
You can avoid this problem completely by using self-fertilizing pothos plants, ones that secure their own nitrogen through the process of gathering nutrients from animal droppings. This method doesn’t provide the plant with all of the nutrients it needs so you should supplement its diet with an easy to use, water soluble fertilizer.
Pruned pothos vines make excellent houseplants for décor and are perfect for offices. They don’t need much attention or care at all other than a bit of pruning every now and then to keep them from getting out of control. You can prune a pothos plant at anytime and anywhere but the ideal time is just before it begins to grow again. Pruning encourages growth so annual pruning will keep your plant healthy and growing vigorously.
Pothos Care Tip #2: Don’t Allow Plant To Sit In Water
A pothos plant will do just fine if its pot sits in water for long periods of time but it shouldn’t stay wet for extended periods of time. If the pot does stay wet for an extended period the plant can develop root rot and/or mold. Either problem can cause serious damage to the plant’s appearance and even its life.
Water your pothos plant when the top layer of soil is dry. Empty out any excess water after watering by placing it in a low spot or just setting it on a towel for a spell.
Pothos plants are very tolerant of under watering and will do just fine if you forget to water it from time to time.
Pothos Care Tip #3: Fertilize Every 2 Week With A Balanced Fertilizer
The best time to fertilize a pothos plant is when you’re fertilizing everything else in your home. Pothos is a heavy feeder so don’t be shy about fertilizing it. Twice monthly feedings during the growing season and once a month in the winter should keep your pothos happy.
Choose a water-soluble type fertilizer rather than a slow-acting type, these types of fertilizers immediately release their nutrients as soon as they’re in contact with water. Other types of fertilizer, those that release their nutrients over a period of time should not be used since pothos don’t like their soil too rich.
Fertilize during the growing season with a balanced fertilizer such as a 10-10-10 or 12-4-8 and then switch to a fertilizer that’s high in phosphorus such as a 0-10-0 or 0-5-0 in the winter months.
Pothos Care Tip #4: Use Air-Pot When Transplanting or Repotting
If you live in a home or apartment with carpet you should use an air-pot when transplanting or repotting your pothos. Pothos plants have extensive root systems and if they are not contained they can easily grow through the cracks in your floor, especially if it’s carpeted.
The air-pots provide a barrier to contain the roots and prevent them from shooting through the floor. More than containing the roots though, they also keep the soil from washing out when you water.
Pothos Care Tip #5: Pinch Out The Flower Buds
You’ve probably noticed the little bitty white flowers that sprout up on your pothos from time to time. These are called “pup” or “offsets”. These plants are clones and will produce new plants that will also be clones.
Doesn’t sound very exciting does it?
To prevent your pothos from going to this effort use your thumb and forefinger to pinch out the flower buds as they appear. This won’t hurt the plant at all and will prevent the production of the pup which otherwise would fall to the floor and take root there.
Common Pothos Problems
Pothos plants are pretty hardy and will grow even under less than ideal conditions. Still there are a few problems that occur with them from time to time.
This problem is usually caused by too much water or water that has been allowed to stand for too long before finally being drained away. To help prevent this problem don’t water as much and drain any excess water that gets on the plant immediately.
If the mold has already developed, use a cloth to remove all of it and then apply a sprayon anti-fungal coating to the leaves of the plant to prevent the mold from recurring.
Leaves with Yellow Edges
This is probably due to the plant being too cold or too drafty. (Although pothos don’t like being moved either!)
The best solution is to move the plant to a warmer location within your home. If you do not have such a location, use a reflector or severalreflectors beside the plant to provide additional light. Do not use a heating pad!
Leaves with Yellow Spots
This might be due to the plant being too cold or there not being enough light. (See Yellow Edges Above)
If it looks like little targets, or the leaf has a dark spot in the center with the edges rolling up and becoming yellow, then this is probably due to genetics.
Red or Purple Leaves
Red or purple leaves are natural for this plant but they can also be caused by too much fertilizer. Cut back on the food and your plant should return to it’s green self in a few weeks.
Safety For Kids And Pets
Pothos is one of the safest houseplants you can have. It is also one of the most kid and pet friendly. The only thing to watch out for is the pup (offsets) that drop to the ground. These can be a choking hazard to very small children and pets so you may want to contain this plant in a high container or hang it high enough so that these falls cannot happen.
Where To Get Pothos
Your best bet for finding this plant is to ask for one for Christmas or your Birthday. If that doesn’t work, most grocery stores, department stores and even some big box stores now carry houseplants. Prices are usually less than $10 and they come in a variety of sizes.
If you want one right away and don’t want to pay the shipping cost, I would suggest looking on Craigslist for a local grower. Many farmers and people who grow wine grapes or other fruits and vegetables for a living will have dozens of pothos plants that they need to get rid of every year.
If you are looking for something different, or just want to see what else is available, I found this website that lists a wide variety of houseplants. There are thousands of plants from which to choose.
Whatever you choose, I hope you enjoy it and make it a part of your home for many years to come.
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Sources & references used in this article:
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Epipremnum aureum (Jade pothos): a multipurpose plant with its medicinal and pharmacological properties by A Meshram, N Srivastava – Journal of Critical Reviews, 2015 – academia.edu
[PP340] Pothos (Epipremnum aureum) Diseases: Identification and Control in Commercial Greenhouse Production by DJ Norman, GS Ali – EDIS, 2018 – journals.flvc.org
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Establishment of Pale Yellow’Golden Pothos’ Plant-based Transgenic System for Studying Nuclear Genes Involved in Chloroplast Biogenesis by LL Thomas – 2014 – search.proquest.com
Phytochemical, Physico Chemical and Elemental Analysis of Leaves and Stem of Pothos scandens Linn. by J Varkey, SS Nair – impactfactor.org