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Why is My Pothos Drooping? (9 Ways to Revive It)

Pothos can be difficult to grow in a non-native habitat because of their invasive nature. In natural habitats, pothos adapts to their surroundings and survive as a result of their adaptation capacities.

Pothos’s survival at home requires the owner to have complete control over the plant. If you are growing it as a houseplant then you need to ensure the requirements to keep it thriving. However, if your pothos drooping, it may be due to a variety of reasons that I will share with you here.

Underwatering is the number one cause of pothos drooping. Pothos needs water to maintain the normal physiological processes and maintain the turgor pressure which keeps the plant vigorous and healthy. Pests and diseases, as well as improper growing conditions, are other potential causes for pothos drooping.

Knowing the exact problem causing drooping leaves will help you put in place the necessary measures to revive your devil’s ivy. I’ve created a handy table below for quick reference; you can easily spot the issue and execute a salvation mission immediately.

Pothos Plant drooping
Pothos Drooping
Causes of Pothos DroopingHow to Revive
Underwatering Let your pothos soak up water in a sink or bathtub for 45-60 mins.
OverwateringAllow the soil to dry out before watering again. Treat root rot before repotting afresh.
Low humidityUse mister, humidifier, or pebble tray
Frost DamageKeep your pothos away from the window. Move to a warmer location. Do not use cold water.
Light problemsMove your pothos to a spot with 8-10 hours of indirect or filtered bright light
DiseasesIsolate, trim affected parts, and treat with fungicides or bactericides accordingly
Pest infestationUse insecticidal soaps, horticultural oils, or alcohol-dipped cotton swabs
Root-bound pothosRepot using a well-draining pot that’s at least twice the size of the previous container
Soil retaining too much waterRepot afresh using a well-draining potting mix
Drooping after repottingEnsure the potting mix is adequately moist and the plant has ample growing conditions.

[1] Pothos Drooping Due to Too Little Water

You must make a point of watering your pothos consistently to keep the soil fairly moist — but never too dry or too wet. The best way to make sure it’s getting a proper water supply is to insert your finger into the potting mix and check the dryness of the soil.

If you have neglected your pothos for too long that’s become extremely thirsty, the leaves will respond by curling up and followed by drooping.

The leaves and long stems on your pothos stay perky and upright when their vascular systems are packed with nutrients and water. In fact, it’s their flow and turgor pressure that maintain their firmness.

When your pothos can’t get enough water from the soil, the foliage will become sag, droop, and may turn brown starting from the tips and edges. Other core symptoms and signs of underwatering in pothos include:

  • The overall plant will seem wilted, dry, and crispy
  • A combination of browning and yellowing leaves
  • Defoliation – you’ll likely find dried leaves on the surface of the potting mix

How to Revive Your Underwatered Pothos

If the potting mix has dried out completely, your pothos is simply asking for a thorough soaking. Follow these steps to soak water your devil’s ivy:

  1. Remove the drip tray and set your potted pothos in a sink/tub/big container filled with water up to 3-4 inches deep. It should rise around halfway up either side of the pot when you dip your pothos.
  2. Lukewarm or room-temperature water is ideal, but be sure to avoid hot or chilly water. The soil will sip water upwards via the drain holes in the bottom and start saturating.
  3. Allow your pothos to soak up water for 45 min to 1 hour. Or perhaps you should wait until the soil feels saturated and moist at least an inch below the potting mix surface.
  4. Make sure to drain excess water carefully before you move your pothos back to its default spot
  5. Your pothos should show signs of perkiness and the leaves should uncurl by the next day. To prevent future drooping and wilting, consider using a self-watering pot for a set-it and forget-it watering cycle.

From here on, you should check the soil dryness every four to five days during the high-growth stretch of the season. Water your pothos deeply when the soil two or three inches below the surface is slightly dry.

Irrigate until you see some water wick out of the pot’s bottom drain holes. You should empty the perched excess liquid from the saucer to discourage root rot.

[2] Too Much Water (Overwatering)

Since it’s native to under-canopy environments in Malay jungles, pothos appreciates some moisture around their roots. But you should be careful not to give it too much water as this can result in an array of problems that can end up killing your pothos.

Pothos Root Rot Due to Overwatering
Pothos Root Rot Due to Overwatering

You’d be surprised how we are not too different from our precious houseplants. There must be air pockets around the roots of your pothos so they are able to breathe. However, when the soil becomes too wet, soggy, or waterlogged, they become choked and ultimately drown.

In saying so, overwatering suffocates the roots and prevents your pothos from proper absorption of essential minerals, water, and nutrients. In consequence, your plant loses some turgor pressure, resulting in foliage wilting and drooping.

That’s not the end of bad news associated with overwatered pothos, though. When the roots remain too damp for too long, they become susceptible to root rot, too. This also causes your pothos to emaciate and droop, eventually dying if you do nothing to save it.

Some of the overwatering symptoms are noticeable by simply paying attention to your pothos:

  • Leaves turning yellow, often starting with older and those closer to soil
  • Roots decaying and start to turn brown/black
  • Rotting smell wafting from the soil
  • Browned leaves which are also limp and soft
  • Mushy or shriveled appearance
  • Mold growths appearing on the soil surface
  • Brown spots develop on the leaves, often surrounded by yellow rings

Solution

If the soil feels wet but not overly wet or soggy, simply skip irrigating your pothos. This will give the potting mix some time to dry out and allow your pothos to bounce back to health.

You should see to it that the pot has adequate bottom drainage holes. Switch to a terracotta pot with several holes to ensure the problem is solved once and for good.

Make sure your plant’s pot sits on a dish, saucer, or drip tray. This will allow excess liquid to freely flow or escape out of the container, minimizing the chances of overwatering.

Unfortunately, you should be a little alarmed if the drooping appearance is accompanied by limp, wilting leaves. 

This is oftentimes an indication that something sinister is happening below the soil surface. Your pothos is probably already affected by root rot. 

You will need to put into motion a more urgent and rigorous rescue plan for a case of severe overwatering. 

  1. First, unpot your pothos and take a more incisive look at the root system. Do you see any signs of root rot?
  2. Overwatered pothos will likely have mushy, flaccid, and brownish rotted roots. (As opposed to firm, white, and full healthy roots). Use sterilized shears to prune away the affected roots.
  3. Clean the root system gently under running water in the sink or shower
  4. Prune back some of the foliage and stems to offset the percentage of roots lost to root rot. More importantly, you should remove and discard any dead, diseased, or heavily browned leaves.
  5. You must get rid of the old potting mix and swap in new well-drained soil with perlite, vermiculite, or peat moss for added fertility and increased drainage capacity. If you’re reusing the old pot (which I highly discourage) ensure the bottom drainage holes are enough and not blocked.
  6. Treat the remnant root system by dipping it in a fungicide solution to eliminate any opportunistic pathogens. I also find it useful and effective to blend some activated charcoal and powdered cinnamon into the potting mix. You can also use hydrogen peroxide for optimal results.
  7. Make sure the potting mix is reasonably moist when repotting your plant afresh. Stick to mild irrigation until your plant has shown indications of new growth, such as fresh leaves.

I’ve said it quite a few times and I will repeat: irrigate your pothos only when the soil is a bit dry two to three inches beneath the surface.

[3] Air Is Too Dry (Low Humidity)

Pothos are tropical natives accustomed to humid settings under the jungle canopies in Southeast Asia. Unfortunately, the atmosphere in your home may not be humid enough for your pothos. This is especially true during winter when the ambient air becomes too dry and crispy.

It really doesn’t help much if you’re running the AC most of the time. The drafts rob moisture from the air surrounding your plant.

With that being said, your plant will start losing moisture into the environment at a higher rate than usual, leading to wilting and droopy appearance.

The potting mix also tends to dry out more quickly when the surrounding air is less humid. Because your plant is unable to absorb enough water and nutrients, the foliage will lose turgor pressure, begin to limp and droop.

Solution

Your pothos will have no problem thriving once there’s a more humid setting around the plant. 

  • To increase humidity levels around your pothos, start misting the foliage regularly. However, mist early in the morning using lukewarm or room-temperature water to avoid overly damp leaves.
  • As is often the case with tropical plants, you can effectively boost humidity by using a humidity tray. You can DIY this by setting up a pebble tray and placing your plant on top of it.
  • Of course, nothing can trump the humidity-boosting effectiveness of a humidifier. Ensure the humidity stays in the ideal 50-75% range.

[4] Does the Soil Retain Too Much Water?

The good news is that pothos can do fairly well in any potting mix. But the soil should be well-draining. 

Since these tropical plants are water guzzlers, you may end up overwatering them, and if the soil retains too much water, you’ll soon be staring at a detrimental case of root rot.

As usual, sink your finger into the soil. If the top inch is still damp after three to five days after watering, then the potting mix has water retention problems. 

By holding on to the water for too long, the soil encourages a flaring up of root rot diseases that will kill the roots. 

Your pothos will start yellowing, wilting, and drooping as a result of insufficient uptake of nutrients and moisture.

Solution

You must first check that the drainage holes on the bottom of the pothos container are not being obstructed. Well, are they there in the first place?

If the drainage holes aren’t blocked yet the soil still holds on to the water for too long, it’s time to swap out the old potting mix. That’s because it may have compacted and thus retains too much water.

Use a new batch of well-draining soil blend that allows drying out between irrigations. I’ve come to hold much respect for this particular Pothos Air Cleaning Plant Soil; it has a generous amount of organic matter & perlite, keeping the soil fluffy, well-aerated, and rich.

[5] Too Small Pot (Has Your Pothos Become Root-bound?)

If there’s one important lesson I’ve learned as an avid house plant grower, it’s that roots need ample room to grow. When the container is too small for your pothos, it will not only inhibit the growth of roots but may also prevent them from taking up water and nutrients efficiently.

A root-bound pothos doesn’t get enough nutrients it needs to thrive. It will start to show signs of emaciation, such as drooping, and yellowing of leaves. Other indications of a pothos being root-bound may include:

  • Roots wrap around the pot’s inside many times
  • Roots poke above the potting mix
  • Roots peek out of the drainage holes on the bottom of the pot

Solution

As a general upkeep routine, you should re-pot your pothos every 1- 1½ years.

Carefully unpot your pothos from the current pot and repot it using a larger well-draining pot. You want to pick a container that is an inch or two larger in diameter than your plant. In fact, it should be twice larger than the previous pot, providing enough room for growth.

Even so, you should avoid using a pot that’s too large for your pothos. Watering the larger pot will end up drowning the roots of your plant.

[6] Pothos Drooping After Repotting

If you notice that your pothos seems wilted, limp, and drooping after transplanting or repotting, this is usually due to transplant shock and nothing to worry about. 

Your plant is still getting accustomed to the new setting. And it will soon spring to life and get back on track with new growth once as it acclimatizes.

However, drooping after repotting may be a result of a lack of water. How does this happen? Perhaps the roots are still healing and temporarily unable to take up nutrients and water to keep your plant happy and perky. It may also be due to too little [or excess] water in the new potting mix.

Solution

For the most part, you don’t have to do much but patiently wait for your plant to resurge. Just ensure the new potting mix is fairly moist and not too wet or too dry. I highly recommend watering your pothos deeply and thoroughly a couple of days prior to repotting them.

Make sure repotting your pothos falls into the onset of the growing period (between late spring and early summer). This will ensure a smoother and less impactful transition.

[7] Light Problems

Light plays a crucial role in your pothos health. After all, it’s a houseplant that appreciates a daily dose of 12-14 hours of medium to bright filtered or indirect sunlight during the growing season.  

If your droopy pothos is potted in the correct pot size and receive a good water supply, the issue could be too much direct sunlight.

This is especially the case if your pothos resides too close to an extremely sunny, west-facing, or south-facing window. 

Symptoms of too much light typically show on the flattest leaf surfaces that face the source of the light (such as the door, window, etc.) The oldest leaves are usually the first to face the adverse effects of the sun scorching.

This will manifest in the form of sunburns, yellowed leaves, or browned crispy leaf tips or edges. Excess light also aggravates or worsens symptoms of underwatering, low humidity, and drafts.

Conversely, wilting and drooping can also result from too little light. This is usually due to reduced ability to photosynthesis, as well as increased chances of overwatering. Pothos in low light is more prone to diseases and pests.

Solution

If your pothos is getting too much light, move it further away from the window to a location that receives plenty of indirect bright light. Make sure it’s not being hit by afternoon hot sun or direct sunlight.

On the contrary, you should move it to a better, brightly-lit location if it’s wilting and drooping in a low-light spot.

Additionally, rotating your pothos occasionally will ensure uniform growth. I like to do a little dusting on the leaves in order to encourage my pothos to photosynthesize and make use of light efficiently.

[8] Pest Infestation

You should inspect your pothos regularly and watch out for pests that may be causing them to droop.

– Mealybugs: The most common and perhaps the most impactful are mealy bugs. These pests show up as cotton-like white masses on the underside of leaves and sometimes on the roots. You may also see some sooty mold owing to the honeydew that attracts mold.

Pothos affected by mealybugs is usually stunted. In severe attacks, your pothos may start to yellow, wilt, and appear droopy due to the loss of nutrients.

– Caterpillar worms: Although rarely affects indoor pothos, they can cause severe damage to the leaves if they do. They are quite visible to the naked eye due to their feces. Aside from drooping and wilting, you may see holes appear along the edges and in the center of the leaves.

– Scales: These are small oval or round-shaped light to dark brown pests that feed on the stems, petioles, and leaves of the pothos. They cause your plant to become stunted, weakened, and appear droopy. It will ultimately die due to severe infestations.

– Mites: Spider mites are usually very tiny and may go undeterred until they do too much damage to your pothos. Affected leaves become spotted and turn yellow. Leaf dropping, shedding, and webbing will follow when the colony becomes too large.

– Thrips: These pests usually feed on sap, causing the leaves to develop gray-silverish scars. They will also become distorted, curled, and wilt, eventually drooping and falling off. Thrips can also infect your pothos with a wilt virus that causes drooping, as well.

Solution

You must first inspect your plant carefully for pests, keeping an eye out particularly for mealybugs. You can control these insects using various methods:

  • Remove by hand and dispose of them appropriately
  • Use horticultural oils like neem oil and insecticidal soaps
  • For a systemic method, use soil drenches with insecticides
  • Use cotton swabs dipped in rubbing alcohol

You must repeat this treatment routine several times, with a week to ten days in between.

[9] Disease Infections

Drooping leaves on your pothos can occur because bacterial, fungal, and viral infections have taken hold of your plant. They are usually opportunistic pathogens that make a home of your pothos when it’s weak, unhealthy, and vulnerable. In a lot of cases, they affect overwatered pothos.

These vectors usually cause blight, leaf spots, and root rot, most notably Pythium root rot, Rhizoctonia stem rot, and Pseudomonas (bacterial) leaf spot. The leaves usually turn yellow or blackened, while the overall plant seems limp and floppy/drooping.

Solution

  • The first point of defense is to purchase healthy pothos right from the shop. Make sure the roots are full, firm, and healthy before you bring the plant to your home.
  • When repotting, transplanting, etc., ensure the potting mix is pathogen-free. Occasionally, add hydrogen peroxide to your irrigation water for better sanitation.
  • If your plant is already affected, isolate it to contain the spread to other houseplants. Use sterilized scissors or shears to prune away diseased/dead plant matter.
  • Use appropriate bactericide, fungicide, or anti-viral solutions.
  • Avoid overhead irrigation to prevent a flare-up of diseases. (Source: Pennsylvania State University)

Key Takeaways

  • Frost can cause leaves to droop. Keep pothos indoors during cold weather.
  • Pothos does not like dry air. Mist the leaves or get a humidifier.
  • Pothos can droop in poor soil. Well-drained soil for pothos allows the roots to develop and keep the plant happy.
  • Low light causes pothos drooping. Ensure enough light. Even artificial light will do the trick.
  • Watch out for pests and diseases.
  • Repotting can damage the root system, so give it time to adapt to the new environment.