Pothos in Water Turning Yellow | How To Fix it

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.

Understanding Pothos Plants

Pothos (Epipremnum aureum) is a popular houseplant that is low maintenance. It is a trailing vine that can grow up to 10 feet long and has heart-shaped leaves that come in different shades of green, yellow, and white. Pothos is a great plant for beginners as it can tolerate a wide range of light and soil conditions.

Pothos is a tropical plant native to the Solomon Islands and Southeast Asia. It belongs to the Araceae family and is closely related to other popular houseplants like philodendrons and monsteras. Pothos is a vining plant that uses aerial roots to climb and attach itself to surfaces. It is a fast-growing plant that can quickly fill up a space with its lush foliage.

One of the reasons why pothos is a popular houseplant is its ability to thrive in water. Pothos can be grown in soil or water, making it a versatile plant that can be grown in different environments. When grown in water, pothos can be propagated easily by rooting stem cuttings in water. However, pothos grown in water can sometimes turn yellow, which can be a sign of a problem.

In the next section, we will explore some of the reasons why pothos plants turn yellow when grown in water and how to fix it.

Why Pothos Will Turn Yellow in Water

Here are the top reasons why pothos will turn yellow in water and what to do next.

1. 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 on its own 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.

2. 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 regularly. Refresh the water every week to keep the plant happy and the level high enough to cover the bottom 2-3 inches of the cutting. This will prevent them from drying out and turning yellow. This happened to my cuttings when I wasn’t checking it regularly.

3. 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, will get too little 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 prevent this problem. The cutting will start to grow new roots from the end of the stem and can be planted out around 4-6 weeks after placing it in water.

4. Not Enough Light

Pothos leaves can turn yellow in water is there is a lack of light. Cuttings will need to be placed in front of a bright window indoors to keep the leaves green and to make sure the leaves are getting enough sunlight to photosynthesize.

It is best way to give your pothos cuttings enough light indoors is to keep it in a clear jar 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.

1. 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.

2. Add More Water

Make sure the bottom of the pothos cutting and any roots are covered with water. I like to add 3-4 inches of water to the bottom of a jar and top it up every 1-2 weeks.

3. 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.

4. Use Good Quality Water

The quality of the water you use can also affect the health of your pothos. Here are some tips to improve the quality of the water you use:

  1. Use filtered water or let tap water sit out for 24 hours to allow chlorine to evaporate.
  2. Use room temperature water, as water that is too hot or cold can shock the plant.
  3. Avoid using hard water, as it can leave mineral deposits that can harm the plant.

5. Temperature Control

Pothos plants prefer warm temperatures, so if your pothos is in a location that is too cold, it may start to turn yellow. Here are some tips to control the temperature:

  1. Keep your pothos in a location where the temperature is between 65-85°F (18-29°C).
  2. Avoid placing your pothos near drafty windows or doors.
  3. Protect your pothos from extreme temperatures, such as frost or heatwaves.

By following these tips, you can help your pothos return to its healthy state and prevent yellow leaves in the future.

6. Plant it out

The final step to help to encourage green leaf growth and solve the yellow leaf problem is to plant your cutting out into good quality potting soil. Once the cutting has developed roots it is ready to plant out. Once it settles into the soil it will be able to draw essential nutrients from the soil to prevent yellow leaves and nutrient deficiency. 

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.

Use good quality potting soil when you plant out your pothos.

Proper Pothos Care

Proper care is crucial for the health of your pothos plant. Here are some key factors to consider:

  1. Watering: Overwatering or underwatering your pothos plant can cause yellowing leaves. Water your plant thoroughly, but allow the top inch of soil to dry out before watering again.
  2. Light: Pothos plants prefer bright, indirect light. Avoid placing your plant in direct sunlight, as this can scorch the leaves and cause yellowing.
  3. Temperature: Pothos plants prefer temperatures between 65-85°F (18-29°C). Avoid exposing your plant to extreme temperatures, as this can cause stress and yellowing.
  4. Soil: Use well-draining soil to prevent water from sitting in the pot and causing root rot. You can also add perlite or sand to increase drainage.
  5. Fertilizer: Use a balanced fertilizer every 2-3 months during the growing season to provide your pothos plant with the nutrients it needs. Avoid over-fertilizing, as this can lead to salt buildup and yellowing leaves.
  6. Humidity: Pothos plants prefer moderate to high humidity levels. You can increase humidity by misting the leaves or placing a humidifier near the plant.

By following these tips, you can help prevent yellowing in your pothos plant and keep it healthy and thriving.


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.

Frequently Asked Questions

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.

Why is my pothos turning yellow?

There are several reasons why pothos plants may turn yellow, including overwatering, underwatering, nutrient deficiencies, extreme temperatures, poor soil drainage, and aging leaves. It is important to identify the underlying cause of the yellowing in order to effectively address the issue.

Pothos leaves yellowing in winter?

Pothos leaves may turn yellow in winter due to lower light levels and cooler temperatures. To prevent yellowing during this time, make sure the plant is receiving adequate light and warmth. Consider moving the plant to a brighter location or supplementing with artificial light if necessary.

Pothos leaves turning yellow and curling?

Yellowing and curling of pothos leaves can be a sign of underwatering or overfertilization. Check the soil moisture levels and adjust the watering schedule accordingly. If overfertilization is the issue, flush the soil with water to remove excess salts and avoid fertilizing for a few months.

Hydroponic pothos turning yellow?

Hydroponic pothos plants may turn yellow due to nutrient deficiencies or imbalances in the nutrient solution. Make sure the plant is receiving the appropriate nutrients and adjust the nutrient solution as necessary. Regularly monitor the pH levels and adjust as needed to ensure optimal nutrient uptake.

Why is my pothos stem turning yellow?

Yellowing of pothos stems can be a sign of root rot caused by excess water or poor soil drainage. Check the soil moisture levels and adjust the watering schedule accordingly. If root rot is suspected, remove the plant from the soil and trim away any affected roots before repotting in fresh soil.