If your golden pothos is turning yellow, you'll want to fix the problem quickly so you can get your plant back to looking its best.
Golden pothos is a popular plant, and with good reason. Its pretty variegated leaves and attractive trailing nature are perfect for suspending from ceilings and bookshelves.
It's also an incredibly low-maintenance plant. Pothos thrive in most indoor conditions, even in relatively low light. However, if yours has multiple leaves that are turning yellow, you need to figure out what is stressing the plant. Like any other plant, pothos will eventually succumb if you don't fix the issue.
Reasons for a golden pothos turning yellow
Don't confuse the normal leaf pattern for disease: a golden pothos leaf has a variegated nature, which means it is multi-colored. Typically, golden pothos has gold-toned streaks throughout its green leaves. This is its normal coloring, and the reason for its visual appeal.
One or two entirely yellow leaves once in a while aren't cause for concern, but if multiple leaves on your plant are turning yellow and falling off, you need to investigate why your indoor plant is suffering.
1. Over or underwatering
This is the easiest problem to diagnose and the most likely culprit for your golden pothos turning yellow.
'If the plant is kept too moist, the leaves will turn yellow and drop off. If the plant is kept too dry, the leaves will also turn yellow and drop off,' explains Brody Hall, a certified horticulturist at The Indoor Nursery.
'The best way to fix this problem is to water the plant when the soil is dry, down to about a half an inch below the surface,' says Brody.
From managing a vineyard to studying horticulture, all the way to obtaining a degree in Environmental Science - Brody loves nothing more than taking his years of knowledge and understanding of ecological science and applying it to the world of gardening.
2. Insufficient humidity
'You can try misting the leaves regularly or, in particularly dry climates, use a small humidifier for plants (available at Amazon) to raise humidity levels,' says Brody.
3. Inadequate lighting levels
As is the case with most tropical plants, golden pothos aren't considered to be low light indoor plants. They like bright, indirect light.
'If the plant is kept in too much shade, the leaves will turn yellow,' says Brody Hall. 'However, if the plant gets too much direct sun, the leaves will turn yellow and then brown.' Lots of indirect sunlight will keep it at its happiest.
4. Pest infestation
Although golden pothos are generally considered easy indoor plants, they can be prone to pest infestations, especially by aphids, mealybugs, and scale insects. These pests feed on the plant’s tissue and will cause the leaves to turn yellow and drop off.
The best way to fix this problem is to manually remove the pests using a q-tip soaked in isopropyl alcohol. 'Although if the infestation is particularly bad, an organic or commercial insecticide may be a grower’s only choice', says Brody Hall.
5. Poor soil
Anthony Selvaganam, a horticulturist and founder of Plantials, says one cause of pothos leaves yellowing that is often overlooked by gardeners is a lack of nutrients in the soil.
'When it comes to nutrient deficiency, lack of nitrogen is the number one cause of golden pothos leaves turning yellow,' he says. 'Nitrogen deficiency in plants triggers a condition called chlorosis which is nothing but loss of chlorophyll, the pigment that is responsible for the green color in leaves.'
Anthony says the best strategy to treat golden pothos plant nutritional deficiencies is to add a slow-release houseplant fertilizer like this Easy Peasy Liquid All Purpose Indoor Plant Food at Amazon, to the soil, which will provide the plants with an ongoing supply of nutrients over time.
How do you fix yellowing on pothos?
'As with many indoor plants, from calathea to kentia palms, problems can emerge from incorrect watering and a golden pothos turning yellow is a sign that you have this issue,' says Zia Allaway, houseplant specialist and gardens writer.
'Droopy leaves that slowly become yellow, and then turn crisp, are usually a sign that your pothos is not receiving enough water,' says Zia. 'Whereas, leaves that suddenly turn pale yellow before turning brown are a sign of overwatering, so leave your plant to dry out.
'If the compost is waterlogged, you can fix an overwatered plant by repotting it in a container with drainage holes in the base, and do not water for a couple of weeks until it has recovered,' she adds.
Zia is a published garden book author, editor, and journalist. Her books include Eco-Gardening, Compost, Low Maintenance, Practical House Plant Book, Practical Cactus & Succulent Book, Indoor Edible Garden, What Plant Where, and the Encyclopedia of Plants and Flowers.
There are several reasons why a golden pothos' leaves may start to turn yellow. The solution comes with identifying the cause and treating accordingly. This may involve adjusting your watering, the light and humidity levels, adding some nutrients to your soil, or repotting it altogether.
If pests have taken hold, an insecticide can be used, or if this is against your eco-friendly gardening principals, then do away with your plant altogether and start again.
Sign up to the Homes & Gardens newsletter
Decor Ideas. Project Inspiration. Expert Advice. Delivered to your inbox.
Anna K. Cottrell is now a freelance writer, having previously been a Content Editor for Future's homes titles. She writes about interior design, property, and gardening. On H&G, she specialized in writing about property – buying, selling, renting – sustainability and eco issues.
This is the best material to propagate cuttings in – plant stylist Hilton Carter swears by this technique
Insider tips on how to grow the strongest and healthiest plants from your existing collection
By Rachel Bull Published
Our style editor’s selection of machine-washable rugs are both chic and incredibly practical
Machine-washable rugs now come in a slew of chic styles and price points, and I've found the best rugs to purchase for easy cleanup.
By Nikhita Mahtani Published