Pothos leaves will start to turn yellow in water if they are lacking nutrients, if there is not enough water, if the leaves become covered in water or if they are not getting enough light. To fix this problem remove the lower leaves, add a dash of liquid fertilizer to the water or plant it out if the roots are 2-3 inches long.
Pothos leaves will usually turn yellow due to a lack of nitrogen. This is a sign that it is time to refresh the water and add some fertilizer. It can also means the plant is ready to plant out into soil.
This article will explore why pothos leaves will turn yellow in water and how to fix it.
Why pothos will turn yellow in water
There are a few reasons why pothos will turn yellow in water. Here are my top reasons why pothos will turn yellow in water and what to do next.
Lack of nutrients
Pothos plants that lack nutrients, particularly nitrogen will start to turn yellow. A plant that is not getting enough nitrogen will start to lack chlorophyll which contains the pigment that causes the leaves to look green.
Nitrogen is key to bright green leaves. Water itself will not contain any nitrogen so if you are raising cuttings in only water it can be a great idea to add a few drops of liquid plant food every 2 weeks. This will give the plant the nitrogen it needs to prevent it turning yellow.
Lack of water
Pothos cuttings that are lacking water will start to turn yellow. The water in a jar or container will evaporate and be absorbed and released by the plant which will slowly lower the level.
If the water level becomes low enough that it is below the root level the plant can dry out and turn yellow.
It is important to top up the water level in the jar that you are growing your cutting in. You can refresh the water fully every week to keep the plant happy and the level high enough to prevent it drying out and turning yellow.
Water covered leaves
Leaves that are covered by the water can start to turn yellow. If the bottom leaves on the cutting are submerged under the water they can start to rot, lack light and they will eventually turn yellow.
When you are placing a pothos cutting in a jar of water, remove the leaves that will be underneath the water level. This will stop the leaves under the water turning yellow.
Not enough light
The final reason why pothos leaves will turn yellow in water is if they are not getting enough light. Cuttings will need to be placed in front of a bright window indoors to keep the leaves green.
Pothos leaves will start to get yellow if they are placed in a dark, shaded place. The easy solution is to place the pothos cutting near your kitchen window. You can also add an LED grow light to give your cuttings an extra boost of light to keep their leaves green.
How to fix pothos plants with yellow leaves in water
Here are the top ways to solve the problem of pothos plant leaves turning yellow in water. There are easy steps to help the plant grow green leaves.
Check the roots
The first step if you are raising a cutting in water is to check the root growth. You can expect that the plant will start to grow roots within a week of placing them in the water. After 3-4 weeks the pothos plant should have multiple roots that are 2-3 inches long.
This means that you have the option to plant the pothos to plant out into soil. If the roots are smaller than this, follow the next step and add a dash of liquid fertilizer.
Add a dash of liquid fertilizer
For pothos cuttings that have small roots that are only 1 inch long or less you might want to keep it in the jar of water for longer.
If the pothos leaves are turning yellow you can add a dash of liquid plant fertilizer to give it a nitrogen boost. This will help the plant to continue to grow roots, new leaves and prevent them from going yellow.
You can add a few drops of liquid nitrogen fertilizer to the water every 2 weeks. Refresh the water each week but drop in some fertilizer every 2 weeks to feed the plant.
Plant it out
The final step to help to encourage green leaf growth and solve the yellow leaf problem. The pothos cutting that is starting to turn yellow but has long roots is ready to be planted out in soil. This will give the plant extra nutrients for fast leaf growth.
Use a good quality potting soil for your pothos and plant it into a small pot. Water it well for the first 2 weeks to keep it moist to transition into the soil well. You can then decrease the watering rate and the plant will be happy.
Can you save a yellow leaf on pothos?
Once your pothos plant has yellow leaves, the leaf itself cannot be saved. Trim the leaf off with some sharp secateurs or scissors. This will give the plant the space and light to grow new, green leaves. While you can’t save the leaf you can save the plant.
Check to see if the plant is ready to go into soil, where there are multiple roots are at least 3 inches long. The plant will stay green and will grow well.
Pothos in water turning yellow | Summary
Pothos that is grown in water can end up with yellow leaves if they are lacking light, water or nitrogen. Add a drop of liquid fertilizer in the water every 2 weeks or plant out the cutting if the roots have established and are around 3 inches long.
Pothos are a great plant to grow by cutting and are an easy way to start the hobby of growing indoor plants.
I am an accredited practicing dietitian, experienced gardener and a dedicated cook. I love writing and sharing my experience so you can learn from my successes and mistakes.