Are you dealing with overwatered pothos? Overwatering Pothos plants is not only very common but can also cause a plethora of problems for your lovely house plant. Too much moisture around the root systems, throughout the soil, and into the stems and leaves can cause root rot, discoloration, mold, shriveling, and more.
This article covers:
- How to properly water your pothos plant
- Common symptoms of overwatering and what to look for
- What to do if you have already overwatered
Let’s get started!
Table of Contents
Finding a Balance Between Overwatering and Underwatering
Plants need water to live, so you obviously don’t want to provide too little water, but you can overwater as well and it is important to find a balance. For some plants, this is easier to do than it is with others, like Pothos.
Underwatering can lead to crispy, brown, yellow, and wilted leaves. This is because they are dehydrated and lack nutrients and H20 needed for thriving health. If this poor health condition lasts too long, then the Pothos plant can die.
Overwatering makes it hard for the roots to breathe and leads to different symptoms, although some are similar like turning brown. However, there won’t be any crispiness.
(See the section below about identifying overwatered pothos to learn more about how to see if you are providing too much or too little water to your Pothos plant.)
If you want to know how to care for a Pothos plant other than watering, check out this informative video!:
How to Correctly Water Pothos Plants
With Pothos, you want to know how to water it properly before making an error that causes overwatering (or underwatering of course!). There are some strategies that you can abide by to ensure a healthy watering schedule.
Using a Watering Tray
If you set your Pothos pot onto a watering tray or other vessels of water, then you can actually water it from the bottom. Why is this a good technique? Because it sucks up the water but is unlikely to draw up more water than the plant actually needs.
As the soil dries, it absorbs the water from the container, but it can’t absorb more water than it can take. However, it is still possible to overwater using this method. It is a great way though to prevent overwatering as long as you are careful.
When to Water
The frequency of watering and your schedule depend on several factors like temperature, sunlight, and the size of your Pothos. However, there is a rule of thumb to keep in mind to help determine the right routine.
When the top half of the soil dries out completely, then it is probably time for watering. This will be less in humid conditions and during the Winter and more during the growing season.
Furthermore, it is best to water the plant in the morning if possible (and avoid watering at night).
Type of Water
Did you know that the type of water you use for your Pothos can actually influence overwatering? Poor water quality can cause damage, especially if it is high in salts.
It is best to use filtered water or rainwater whenever you can to avoid overwatered pothos. Tap water is usually okay, but if you do use it then let it sit for 24 hours in the open air before watering your Pothos plant with it.
Amount of Water
Even if you water at the right time, if you water too much it can cause overwatering (yep, even if the soil is bone dry).
The amount of water depends greatly on the size of the pot and the size of the Pothos. As you may have guessed, bigger Pothos plants consume more water.
The amount of water you use should moisten the soil thoroughly, but not cause significant draining or puddles on top of the soil (if watering from above).
How to Identify Overwatered Pothos
There are some signs and symptoms you can look for in an overwatered pothos. Being able to notice quickly will help you address the situation faster and heal your damaged or unhealthy plant.
Root rot is detrimental to the health of your overwatered Pothos plant and is a direct symptom of overwatered pothos. Roots absorbing too much water will become soggy. Furthermore, the soil becomes too wet for oxygen to get through the soil to the cells of the root system. This makes it impossible for the plant to break down sugars and produce energy. The result? Signs like unhealthy growth, wilted or discolored leaves, and thinning of the foliage.
This can be a symptom of root rot but is definitely something to keep an eye out for. If the leaves and stems start to look limp, soft, and mushy, or if they shrivel, then the likely culprit is excessive water. These signs may coincide with an unpleasant smell.
Too much water can cause leaves to turn yellow or other unhealthy colors. When leaves, especially older leaves, begin to turn yellow close to the base of the plant, then this is very indicative of root rot.
The leaves turn yellow because they aren’t getting the nutrients they need. Leaves can also develop brown spots caused by too much water, which happens when the cells swell from absorbing excessive amounts of liquid.
If you notice a powder-like substance developing on the soil of your potted overwatered pothos, then this is probably mold. What does mold need to grow? That’s right! Lots and lots of water. Keeping it too moist for too long creates the perfect environment for fungi, mold, and mildew…things you obviously don’t want.
Wrinkled or Wilting Leaves
Overwatering can cause leaves to wrinkle, curl, wilt, or just look generally unhealthy. Sometimes the tips of the leaves of an overwatered pothos will turn brown and wrinkle, leaving your plant looking sickly and unattractive. Other times, the entire Pothos plant starts to wilt which is a serious sign that it is close to death.
For curling leaves, since there are lots of problems that can cause them to curl, look for leaves curling downward. That is a sign of watering as the issue, but it is a sign of both underwatering and overwatering so be careful if this is the only symptom.
How to Care for Overwatered Pothos
If you noticed some of the signs of overwatering and are sure that you need to do something about it, then don’t worry. In many cases, it is possible to bring your overwatered pothos back from the dead and return it to its lovely prior glory. But you still need to know what to do to address the problem, restore its health, and care for the overwatered Pothos properly.
Examine the Problem
The first thing that you need to do is to assess the problem and examine the overwatered pothos plant for the severity of the damage. This will help you determine the next steps because if it is just showing the first signs of overwatering, then you will have to do something different than if it is near death.
Sometimes overwatering is not caused by too frequent watering or too much application. Sometimes it is caused by poor draining. Check the drainage holes and poke them with a stick or silverware to see if there is sitting water or if the holes are clogged. Sometimes this is the entire cause and if there is no root rot yet it may be all you have to do to save your plant.
Obviously, you don’t want to give more water to an overwatered Pothos plant. Sometimes it could be several days or even weeks before you should resume your watering schedule. Try to allow the soil to completely dry all the way through. If you want to speed up the process, put the plant in more light with higher temperatures.
Aerate the Soil
Roots need oxygen and sometimes when the soil is too damp it prevents the plant from getting the air it needs. Dig at the soil and overturn it to create more empty space for the air to enter and get to the root system. (See more about soil aeration.)
Remove Damaged Leaves
Cut off all of the leaves that have turned yellow, brown, wilted, or shriveled. They can spread the rot to other leaves that are still healthy and brightly colored. This is a necessary step that may be sad for some plant lovers, especially if there are more damaged leaves than healthy ones.
Repot the Pothos
If the problem is serious, then you will probably have to repot your overwatered Pothos plant. Pull it carefully out of its pot, trim the rotten or mushy roots, and then use fresh nutrient-rich soil to place it into a new pot. This will normally get rid of the rot and pathogens and create an environment with healthy fluid levels for future growth.
Final Thoughts on Overwatered Pothos
Overwatered Pothos can be a problem and ruin your lovely, attractive plants. It is very easy to overwater also, but if you know how to recognize it then you can address the issue and save your beloved house plant. Once you do, be sure to follow the correct watering guidelines to prevent the problem from occurring again in the future.
In very rare cases when you don’t quickly address the problem, you may have to get rid of the plant, but in most cases, a good repotting, draining, and changing soil can rejuvenate your Pothos plant.