So, you probably think you’re a green thumb now since you’ve started tending your own pothos. Everything seems normal until you see the leaves turning pale and almost white! What went wrong?
The most common causes of pothos leave turning white or pale is low light condition and potassium deficiency. Like other houseplants, Pothos is also vulnerable to overwatering, fluctuating temperature, too much sunlight exposure, and poor soil mixture. When the roots stay drowned it causes stress and white patches develop.
The following information will help you assess the condition of your plant, and its environment. We will also mention proper care procedures—including the things you need to improve in taking care of your pothos.
Causes of Pothos Leaves Turning White
Low Light Level
Pothos plant is known for its ability to endure low-light levels. However, placing it under such conditions for a prolonged period affects its color and variegation.
If you place your plant indoors without providing enough light source, the chlorophyll in the leaves will absorb less amount of light.
Chlorophyll reflects back the green wavelength in the light spectrum. With a limited amount of light, the reflected green color will be few as well.
That’s why you’re most likely to observe your pothos leaves turning white or pale.
How to Fix Low Light Condition
Fixing this problem is pretty simple. Here are ways to bring back the vibrant color of your pothos if the low light level is the problem.
Relocate Your Pothos
Living in a small place might give you a little freedom to hang your plant wherever you want.
But, that place near your window is the perfect spot to bring back the plant’s natural (green) color. Changing the location of your plant now might also help them to grow faster.
Provide Artificial Light Source
If natural sunlight isn’t that accessible in your place, make use of an artificial light source.
Set up white fluorescent bulbs at least 6 to 12 inches above the plant. The illumination that comes from that source shall be enough to keep your pothos green.
Pothos’ leaves pale color might be the result of overwatering. When the soil is waterlogged, the roots couldn’t get enough oxygen and nutrients. As a result, the root starts to rot.
In return, the upper portion of the plant suffers from a lack of water and nutrients. Mineral deficiency in nitrogen, sulfur, iron will often cause general yellowing or paleness of green color in the pothos’ leaves.
It is crucial to keep the soil moist but not too soggy. Put your index finger to the top two inches of the soil to see if it’s already dry. That’s the perfect time for watering.
Never allow your plant to sit on water but don’t keep it dry for too long also. Make sure to water thoroughly letting excess water drain out of the holes. If your pot has a saucer, don’t forget to remove intact water as well.
How to Fix Overwatered Pothos
Remove The Dead Leaves Immediately
Brown leaves from overwatering are mushy and a bit smelly. It would be best to remove those portions. That way, you’re helping your plant channel all the nutrients to the young, healthy leaves.
Check If Your Pot Has Good Drainage
Drainage holes help get rid of excess water while making adequate air available to roots.
If holes are lacking, you can poke additional holes at the bottom. Keep the topsoil loose to give breathing room for the soil.
Water The Plant Only If The Topsoil Is Already Dry
Watering frequency is affected by light level, temperature, and humidity. In cold seasons, your pothos will take time utilizing the water available in the soil. In that case, it will be long before the soil dries out.
Overwatered plants usually have damage roots. Adding in fertilizer will do nothing good except add stress to the roots. You have to wait for the plant to completely recover.
Treat with Fungicide
You can apply a fungicide as a preventive measure against pathogens. Consistently damp soil warrants the growth of harmful organisms such as fungi.
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Potassium helps plant growth by regulating the opening and closing of stomata. Moreover, it is an essential factor to produce Adenosine Triphosphate (ATP) and activate enzymes. In short, potassium benefits the plants—and with the deficiency of this nutrient, plants will have impaired growth.
If you have noticed your pothos leaves turning white, lack of potassium could be the problem, causing your plants to undergo chlorosis—the discoloring of leaves.
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How to Fix Potassium Deficiency in Pothos
Add Organic Materials to The Soil
Organic matter can make your pothos healthier (and happier!). Dig into the soil at a depth of 2inches/50mm, and then insert well-rotten manure and other organic mulches.
Compost made of a high percentage of food byproducts is the best source of potassium. Banana peels are an excellent part of the compost. Apply wood ash lightly on the soil to bring back your pothos plant to its original state.
Use Liquid Houseplant Fertilizer That’s High in Potassium
Liquid fertilizers are fast-release fertilizers and they act immediately to compensate for the mineral deficiency. Use the one that’s high in Potassium (K) content. For potted plants, concentration should be diluted to half.
White powdery patches on your pothos leaves could be more than how it looks. It can be a sign of a serious fungal disease called powdery mildew. Powdery mildew looks like dusty splotches of white or gray powder on the surface of the stems, flower, and even to back of the leaves.
The conditions that favor the growth of powdery mildew are high humidity during the night and warm temperatures during the day. It usually prevails during spring and fall.
How to Fix Powdery Mildew Patches on Pothos Leaves
Remove Infected Leaves
The spores of powdery mildew can easily travel and infect other portions of the plant. It would be best to get rid of infected portions as early as possible.
Reduce Humidity Around The Canopy
High humidity during the night initiates spore formation. To avoid that, you’ll need to thin the plant to allow proper air circulation around the plant. You may also turn the heater on during the night.
Treat with Fungicide
Although rarely necessary, you may apply a fungicide to prevent further damage to the plant. There are organic fungicides available like copper, sulfur, neem oil, or bicarbonates.
There are different ways to apply these fungicides so make sure to carefully follow instructions on the label.
Chemical application should always be coupled with good cultural practice to combat powdery mildew.
Just like any other plant, pothos takes time to adjust to new surroundings. If the temperature significantly differs from that of its natural habitat, your pothos will be stressed out. Pothos grow best within a temperature range of 70- 90°F.
Stressed plants usually change in color. So, if you see your pothos discoloring and turning into a pale yellow or white shade of color, it could be a negative response to the stressful environment.
Abrupt changes in temperature which create an excessively cold or hot environment will lead to this damage.
How to Fix Stressed Pothos Due to Fluctuating Temperature
Place the Plant Away from Cold or Hot Drafts
Air conditions, heaters, fireplaces, and cold windows can be sources of extreme heat or cold. This might be the reason why your plant gets pale or white. You have to keep it away from those drafts.
Cover Using Bed Sheets, Plastic Sheets, or Blankets
This is applicable when the temperature is freezing. The cover sheets will add extra warmth to the environment of your pothos. However, make sure to remove the cover when the temperature rises the next morning.
Too Much Sunlight Exposure
Light is definitely needed to harness energy for photosynthesis. However, too much exposure to it can lead to damaging effects.
Too much light means too much energy is absorbed by the leaf. This creates damage in the reaction centers within the chloroplasts.
The outward manifestation of such a problem includes the paler color of the leaves. Sometimes, the leaves show brown spots, weaken, and eventually die.
It is crucial to prepare the location of your plant beforehand. That will help you think about the perfect place for your pothos. In that way, it prevents the leaves from withering and drying out.
How to Fix Plants Exposed to Too Much Sunlight
Move It to a Shaded Area
Find a location that has enough shade and is highly humid. You may place your pothos there for some time until it recovers from the damage.
Locations such as the bathroom and kitchen are preferred because they usually have high humidity.
Poor Soil Mixture
Different plants would have varying soil requirements. Pothos prefer a loose, well-draining mix that’s high in organic matter. A soil mix that has no good drainage property causes overwatering in plants.
If organic matter is deficient, your pothos is prone to suffer from nutrient deficiency. Such things affect the general health of your plant. Unhealthy plants would appear pale and discolored.
If you don’t want to go through the hassle of making your own potting mix, you can just buy from the market. There are a lot of commercially available mixes ready for use.
How to Fix Poor Soil Mixture
Amend Your Potting Mix
A handful of perlite and coco coir will increase the soil’s porosity thereby improving drainage.
It also increases the cation exchange capacity (CEC) of the soil making it more efficient in holding nutrients.
Repot the Plant
If the initial potting mix is extremely poor in quality, it’s best to repot the plant. Change the potting mix immediately and use the good quality potting medium as described above.
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Too Much Heat
Heat stress is common to plants during the summer season. Just as people perspire, plants lose water vapor through transpiration. When the temperature is too high, they lose a lot of moisture.
The effects of heat stress in pothos include reduced photosynthetic activity, wilting and even leaf etiolation. Etiolated leaves are characterized by having pale yellow to white color.
How to Fix Heat Stressed Pothos
Move Your Pothos to A Shaded Area
Use old materials, such as old net, white bedsheet, or UV resistant plastic for additional shade. Water the plant early in the morning for slower evaporation. This will allow the plants to absorb the water ahead of the heat.
Add Mulch on Top of the Soil
You can lock in moisture by placing organic material at the top of the soil to promote slower evaporation. Check your plant every day, and see if it needs more watering.
How Do You Tell If Pothos Is Dying?
Black and mushy roots are a clear indication of your pothos dying. Sadly, once these appear on your pothos main root, there’s no way to save it—unless you got that single healthy leaf beforehand and propagated it.
Why Are My Pothos Leaves Turning Yellow?
The most common reasons for yellowing leaves are improper soil mixture and overwatering. Just follow the procedure mentioned above to save your pothos from dying.
What Does It Mean When Pothos Leaves Curl?
Curling of pothos leaves is another clear indication of overwatering. When the plant’s root begins rotting, it blocks the water on that part without reaching the stems and leaves, causing them to curl to retain moisture.
Frankly speaking, gardening is a matter of trial and error. It always helps to look for answers when something’s wrong with your beloved pothos plant. In fact, learning from experience will make you a better gardener in the long run.