Due to its low maintenance and modest growth under all environmental conditions, pothos is a great houseplant even first-timers can plant.
It’s an ideal indoor plant that helps air purification from chemicals like formaldehyde, benzene, and carbon monoxide.
Pothos also lends positivity to your surroundings. If this all isn’t enough, pothos is also famous as an odor repellent.
While these benefits will make you bring home a pothos, and its minimal care needs will suit your busy daily regime, it’s a no-brainer that even the slightest mistake from your side can harm the plant’s health.
One of those is the blackening of the leaves. If not taken care of as it should be, your pothos may develop black spots over the leaves, which can further spread to the entire surface.
Hence, an immediate response is a must, and this article will let you understand that. So, let’s first understand what causes the blackening of the pothos leaves.
Why does the pothos leaf turn black?
Before anything else, remember that, unlike other plants, even if your pothos is developing black leaves, some simple efforts from you can annul the above from happening.
However, the treatment will depend upon the cause.
In terms of causes, they include under/overwatering, exposure to direct sunlight, root rot, etc. So, let’s understand these in detail in addition to the other causes.
Are you overwatering the pothos? Pothos is a different kind of houseplant with a better or higher drought tolerance than other plants you may know.
Due to this, such plants can survive even without or with very less water for days or weeks.
And doing its opposite can prove to be harmful to them! That is, if you are watering the plant too often without allowing the soil to dry out, you are inviting a whole lot of problems for the plant, whose common symptom is black leaves.
For example, excessive dampness in the soil for prolonged periods usually begins rotting the roots.
As the roots decay or rot, their capacity to absorb necessary moisture, nutrition, and oxygen from the soil reduces, and so does the transportation.
Furthermore, too much water in the soil reduces the amount of oxygen in the soil or blocks the air pockets. In a nutshell, overwatering pothos does more harm than good!
2. Lack of receiving direct sunlight
Again, pothos doesn’t require too much light, especially direct sunlight. You must know that sunlight is either best for indoor plants when obtained indirectly or received filtered through a sheen cloth.
Since pothos has lots of green plant cells, direct sunlight tends to damage these plant cells, and this appears as a darkening of the leaves.
Or excessive sunlight can also burn the leaves. However, in the latter case, only the surface exposed to the sun’s rays will darken.
Hence, it would help if you refrained from keeping the pothos plant in the way of direct sunlight. Either place the pot in light rooms or under your regular fluorescent tubes.
3. Poor drainage
For the majority of plants, a well-efficient drainage system is a must to survive. It is because of multiple reasons.
For example, proper drainage allows continuous airflow (or oxygen) through the soil. This oxygen is necessary for the roots to breathe and for the rest of the plant to thrive.
However, due to poor drainage, the above isn’t possible. Second, the drainage system allows roots to breathe correctly.
If either of the above two doesn’t happen, your plant will start exhibiting symptoms like brown spots, blackening of the leaves, wilting stem, etc.
To improve the drainage system of your pothos, make sure there is at least one hole underneath the pot for a quick flow of excess water out of the soil.
4. Too dry soil
Are you watering the pothos less often? Since pothos has a tremendous growing speed, their rate of consumption of nutrients, oxygen, and water from the soil is subsequently high.
Due to this, there is a need to get water as soon as its topsoil appears dry. But you have to take care of how much water you are adding. It becomes more significant on hot days when some water will also evaporate.
5. Temperature and humidity
You might not feel it, but the temperature around your pothos plus the humidity in the air can also take a toll on your plant.
For pothos to thrive and survive, the ideal temperature range is around 50°F to 85°F (or 15-30°C), and the humidity level is 60-70.
If either of these two lies outside these ranges, the plant may behave negatively, and the symptoms will resemble the ones discussed above.
Hence, ensure both the temperature and humidity remains optimal around your pothos plant.
6. Excess use of fertilizers
Do you use fertilizers? If yes, you should either stop using the same or start feeding it with steady hands. If your soil has enough nutrients like phosphorus, manganese, magnesium, sulfur, etc., in sufficient quantities, you should not add any fertilizer to it.
It is because fertilizer is nothing but a mix of the above salts. Since some salts are already present in the soil, additional salts from outside will leave your pothos gasping for health and leading to symptoms like the blackening of leaves.
Hence, don’t think about adding fertilizers to the soil if it’s not necessary. Instead, always use organic fertilizer and that too once or twice annually.
7. Fungal disease near the roots
Plants are vulnerable to various fungal diseases. These diseases decay the plant and spread to the remaining plant.
Various signs of the outbreak of fungal disease include wilting leaves, weak stems, stunted growth, black spots on the leaves, etc. Out of all the diseases, pothos usually suffers from Phytophthora.
So, these are the common causes of the blackening of the leaves. Let’s now understand how to overcome all these.
What to do if your pothos leaves are turning black?
If your pothos leaves are turning black and you know its cause, here are some preventive measures you can employ.
- Before watering your plant next time, ensure to check whether it’s dry enough or not. To check this, place your fingers over the soil and try to feel it. If the soil feels too damp or moist, you can avoid watering it at that moment. Plus, water the plant depending upon the weather, pot size, plant size, type of potting soil, etc. As a thumb rule, you can water your pothos once or twice a week.
- While keeping the plant indoors, make sure it’s not too close to the windows from where direct light can fall over the plant. Instead, since pothos is fond of darker rooms, choose any darker room with a small provision for natural light to peep in.
- As the soil ages, it develops clots that tend to store more water and are generally the area diseases originate. Hence, if you can see any clots in the soil, loosen them. Keeping in mind the drainage factor, make sure to choose pots with holes at the bottom for the remaining water to pass through them.
- As plants need more water during summers than in winters, adjust your watering schedule accordingly.
- Irrespective of where you have kept your pothos, you have to maintain its ideal temperature and humidity. If the latter isn’t sufficient in the atmosphere, you can either use a humidifier or a furnace. Or these days, an easy-to-use pebble tray is also available for enriching the air with humidity. Or you can also group individual plants to achieve the desired humidity all at once.
- You may want to use fertilizer on your pothos, thinking that it’s growing slowly without one. However, that’s not an ideal way to discern the need for fertilizer. It is because your pothos may also not grow if it’s receiving less water or natural light. Hence, resort to adding fertilizer to the plant only when it’s necessary to do so.
- Lastly, suppose your pothos has any fungal disease near its roots. In that case, you should immediately remove the plant from that soil, cut the affected roots, wash them, apply any fungicide over the plant, and replant in another pot.
This way, you can prevent any further damage to your pothos plant and revive it.
Blackening of the pothos leaves is a major issue that your plant may experience due to multiple reasons, as described above.
It is also possible with other houseplants. However, it’s very much possible to undo the blackening and bring the plant back to its health.
To do so, you have to keep some essential revival tips in mind like watering, light, fertilizer, diseases, and so on.
Additionally, if any of the above fixes don’t yield the desired results, you can even propagate the plant.