Why pothos leaf edges turn brown | + What to do to save your plant

Pothos plants are a beautiful indoor feature plant but can sometimes suffer from brown leaf edges. This is almost always due to a lack of water but could also be because the leaf has finished and will be replaced, if the plant is lacking nitrogen or not getting enough light.

This article will explore why the edges of pothos leaves turn brown and what you can do to save your pothos plant.

Top reasons why pothos leaf ledges turn brown

Here are the top reasons why pothos leaf edges turn brown so you can work out what is happening to your plant.

1. Not enough water can cause brown leaf edges

The top reason why pothos leaf edges turn brown is because of a lack of water. While pothos are a hardy plant, they still need water and those grown in small pots can dry out quickly.

Pothos that are too dry will have droopy leaves which can then start to brown on the edges. When you feel the soil it will be dry 2 inches below the soil. You can stick your finger in a feel the soil to see if it is dry.

The simple solution to save a pothos plant that is too dry is to take it to a sink and to give it a thorough water. I like to take the inner pot out from the outer pot and use my tap to thoroughly wet the soil.

You can also add a drop of seaweed solution to a watering can and this will help the plant recover. Water the plant again in 2-3 days and do it again after another 3 days.

2. Old leaves will brown

Pothos leaves can turn brown on the edges when the leaf has finished growing. Leaves that are closer to the base of the stem or on old stems can eventually turn brown on the edges as they have finished growing.

This is a natural process and the plant will continue to grow new stems from the base of the plant and new leaves on the end of the stem. Old leaves that are turning brown on the edges can be trimmed off with clean scissors or secateurs.

These damaged leaves will not grow back and can make your pothos look messy. I like to trim these leaves off as soon as I notice them so that it doesn’t attract mold or disease.

Throw these leaves away in case they are carrying any disease and avoid putting them in your compost or worm farm. While the leaves may have been healthy it is not worth the risk of transferring anything unknown to your compost.

3. Not enough nitrogen

A lack of nitrogen can cause the edges of pothos leaves to turn brown. Plant leaves need nitrogen to support them to form chlorophyll in their leaves which gives them their green color. Without chlorophyll the leaves will turn yellow and then brown.

Nitrogen can be added to your plant by adding some slow release indoor plant food to your pothos during the growing season. This can be added every 6 weeks over spring and summer when the plant is growing new leaves.

Read the back of your fertilizer pack to work out how often your particular fertilizer should be added. Some will last longer than 6 weeks and might give you up to 3 months of food for your pothos.

You can also give your pothos a quick feed of nitrogen by adding a liquid fertilizer. Indoor plant liquid fertilizers are a great choice as they will be low in smell and can avoid smelling up your house.

4. Too much water

Strangely enough while a lack of water can cause the pothos leaf edges can go brown from not enough water it can also be caused by too much water.

Too much water can wash away nutrients from the roots, it can starve the plant of oxygen and cause the roots to rot. Too much water can be a big problem for indoor plants where water can sit in a pot tray or in the bottom of the outer pot.

I have been guilty of loving my pothos too much and overwatering the plant and then forgetting completely and letting it dry out. Too much water can be bad for the plant just like not enough water can cause problems.

Here are my top tips for avoiding overwatering pothos.

  • Water the pothos over a sink and let it sit for at least 10 minutes to allow the water to drain out.
  • Check the soil before watering with your finger. If it is still wet 1 inch down from the surface, don’t water yet.
  • Place pothos near a bright window so that the soil will dry out eventually. Pothos placed in dark places can sit in wet soil for too long.
Water pothos plants in a sink to allow the excess water to drain out.

How to prevent pothos leaves from turning brown on the edges

Preventing pothos from getting brown leaf edges is the best way to keep your plant looking fantastic indoors. Here are my 3 top tips for avoiding brown leaf edges on pothos.

Use good soil

Planting pothos in good potting soil to begin with is the best way to get the plant off to the best start, to feed the plant and allow it to have good drainage. I like to use an organic premium potting mix but you can also use a general premium potting mix.

Fertilize over spring

Add a nitrogen fertilizer to your pothos at the start of spring to prevent any lack of nitrogen. A general slow release fertilizer will work well but you can also use one that is made for indoor plants. These will generally be low in odour so there will be no smelly fertilizers in your home.

Water the plant regularly

Finding the right balance of water for your pothos will help to prevent brown leaf edges. Water when the soil feels dry and allow the plant to drain into a sink before putting it back on a pot tray.

Why pothos leaf edges turn brown | Summary

Pothos leaf edges can turn brown due to a lack of water, nitrogen or even if they are not getting enough bright light. Place pothos near a bright window, use a simple slow release fertilizer and water the plant when the soil dries. Pothos are a beautiful forgiving plant that can be a fantastic feature in your home.