Why Are My Pothos Leaves Turning Black? (And How to Fix It)


Due to fairly simple growing conditions, pothos is a popular choice for many home plant owners. However, some issues may arise leading to pothos leaves turning black and causing the plant to become sick. 

Don’t be afraid when this occurs, there are simple steps that you can follow to fix this problem. Before that, you need to find out why are the pothos leaves turning black?

Pothos leaves turn black due to excessive light and fertilizer use. Another reason for leaves turning a darker color is because of underwatering. Besides other potential causes could be poor drainage, high or low temperatures, insects, or diseases. 

Listed below are different potential reasons for your plant leaves to be darkening and how to resolve the issues.

Causes of Pothos Leaves Turning Black

It is very heartbreaking when your favorite pothos turning black and you have no idea how to fix the problem.

It is very important to find out the causes before you apply the solutions. No worries! Here are the possible causes and solutions to the blackening of pothos leaves.

Excessive Watering

As identified above, one of the main causes for your plant leaves to be blackening can be a result of overwatering your plant.

Pothos tends to have a higher drought tolerance and can deal with less watering than many other plants. 

Overwatering can cause the roots to rot which causes the plant leaves to darken and can result in the plant dying.

Overwatering reduces the oxygen in the soil which leads to damaged roots that cannot absorb water effectively.  

Major visual signs are leaves turning yellow, or the formation of black spots. To get a better understanding of the issue, you can inspect the roots of the plant to see if they have rotted from over moist conditions. 

How to Fix

  • Ensure that your soil is not too damp or wet which can cause the roots to rot.
  • Allow the soil to completely dry before watering. 
  • It is important to water the plant depending on the potting soil, growth stage, pot type, temperature, and humidity.
  • Often once a week, or once every two weeks is sufficient to water your Pathos. However, this will depend largely on the temperature and humidity of the environment your plant is in.

Excessive Light

Whilst Pothos usually thrive in light rooms, issues with the plant may arise when placed in direct sunlight. 

When a plant receives too much light it can create scorching which results in leaves darkening and wilting. 

The direct sun is essentially burning the plant cells which leads to the darkening of the plant leaves. 

How to Fix

  • To avoid this, place your plant away from direct sunlight while ensuring it is still in a room with a lot of light. 
  • Pothos can thrive in darker conditions, so don’t be afraid to move it into another darker room. However, you should always ensure there is some natural light in the room where you keep your Pothos.

Poor Drainage

Another common issue as to why your Pothos may be dying is due to poor drainage of the soil. Generally, the soil surrounding your plant should be moist and cool. 

The roots must receive air for it to survive, this is why there must be effective drainage so the plant can breathe. 

If roots are not healthy, they cannot effectively absorb water to transport to the rest of the plant. 

How to Fix

  • If the soil is too damp, make sure you remove any clumps that could be preventing the holes from draining the water. 
  • Push soil against the pot to allow water to reach the roots if the soil is dry, or falling apart. 
  • Make sure you loosen the soil if it has become hard on the surface.
  • Use a well drainage capacity potting mix for your pothos.

Under Watering/Drought

When your Pothos isn’t receiving enough water, the leaves will begin to wilt. It is normal for Pothos to wilt for short periods during hot days. 

However, if it continues over a long period of time, your Pothos is not receiving enough water which can result in it dying.

Pothos leaves turning black is a symptom of that. Therefore, it is important that it is watered regularly. 

How to Fix

  • To know when to water your Pothos, dip your finger/stick into the soil to feel whether it is moist or not. 
  • Often less water is needed during colder seasons, and more water is needed during warmer growing seasons. So adjust the schedule according to the seasons.

Temperature and Humidity 

You should aim to keep the temperature conditions of your Pothos at range from 60-85°F (15-30°C). Anything under 50°F (10°C) may cause the plant to die. 

Pothos generally thrives in normal household humidity if the lighting is sufficient. However, during winter months when there is less humidity, it may cause your Pothos leaves to brown and then black.

How to Fix

  • If your Pothos is lacking humidity, you can mist the plant to provide more moisture. 
  • A humidifier or furnace may also help your Pothos thrive and grow.
  • Pebble tray (click to view on amazon) method is an easy way to increase the humidity around plants.
  • Alo grouping your plants together is another way of increasing humidity surrounding them.

Over-fertilizing

Often Pothos have already received effective fertilization when in a greenhouse, and any additional isn’t always necessary. 

Like other plants pothos need nutrients to thrive. But if you overdo the fertilizer application it will harm your pothos. Leaves turning black is an indication of fertilizer burn. 

Your potted pothos does not need frequent fertilizer applications. Apply fertilizer once every 2-3 months from spring to fall season. 

How to Fix

  • If your Pothos is not growing, this does not necessarily indicate you need to add more fertilizer rather, it often means the plant is not receiving enough light or watering. 
  • It is important to check watering and light conditions before adding any additional fertilizer.
  • Avoid fertilizer application during the winter season because it is the dormant period for plants.

Fungal Diseases

The majority of causes for issues with house plants tend to be environmental issues.

However, in some cases, it can be due to certain diseases. One of the most common diseases that infect Pothos is Phytophthora. 

The infection begins in the roots and eventually spreads to the leaves. This causes leaves to start blackening. These Dark Spots may indicate a fungal problem.  Read this article to learn how to fix the brown spot problem of pothos.

How to Fix

If your Pothos may have a fungal disease be sure to remove the infected leaves, and treat the plant with an appropriate fungicide.

Bacterial Infections

Dark spots may also indicate a Bacterial Infection. Often there are not many cures when plants are completely infected, and in many cases, you must dispose of it. 

How to Fix

To prevent this, it is important to water your Pothos early in the day to allow the leaves to dry. Also, place your Pothos in spaces allowing air to circulate reducing moisture.

Common Infections Your Pothos Could Have

Bacterial Wilt Disease

This is common in hotter periods of the year. This Bacterial Disease will cause the plant leaves to wilt and cause the veins of the leaves to darken.

Rhizoctonia Root Rot and Aerial Blight

One of the main visual features of this is dark spotting on the plant’s leaves. If the infection spreads to the roots it will cause the plant to die. 

Aim to treat your Pothos with an effective fungicide. Garden Safe Brand Fungicide (click here to view on amazon) gets my vote for being very effective against fungal diseases of pothos. However, if you cannot treat it effectively, you may need to discard your Pothos.

Insect Infestation

Another possibility could be insects that have infected the plant. Spider mites,scale insects ,mealybugs are a common insect that attacks houseplants. 

They are small white bugs that cause your Pothos leaves to turn yellow, and can cause it to eventually die. 

How to Fix

  • Pothos insects are often easy to treat and a simple home-remedy you can use is apply alcohol to a cotton swab, and then apply to the bugs. 
  • You should re-pot your Pothos with new soil, and rinse the leaves from any bugs that may be present. 
  • You may also use a houseplant spray to prevent future insects. However, you should dispose of your Pothos if it has been severely damaged by insects.

Source: University of Florida, Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences Extension

FAQs

Why are the tips of my Pothos leaves turning brown?

There are several reasons as to why your plant leaves are turning brown. However, one of the most common reasons is due to environmental conditions such as over watering or under watering, or too much direct sunlight. Other potential reasons could be due to over-fertilization or diseases.

How do you tell if Pothos is dying?

If your plant leaves are beginning to turn yellow or darken and wilt, it may indicate that your plant is dying.

The plant’s roots may also become mushy and dark as opposed to white and firm. It is important to understand the root problem to try and revive your plant before it dies.

Should I mist my Pothos plant?

It is not necessary to mist your Pothos as they tend to thrive with not a lot of water and moisture present.

However, if your plant is lacking humidity, or during the drier winter months you can mist your Pothos plant depending on the environment and humidity of the room it is in.

Arifur Rahman

I'm the owner of gardenforindoor.com. After completing my bachelor of science in agriculture, I'm serving as a civil service officer at the Department of Agricultural Extension, Bangladesh. I started Garden For Indoor to make your indoor gardening journey easy and enjoyable.

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