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Pothos Root Rot : Cause, Ways To Identify & How To Save

Pothos Root Rot : Cause, Ways To Identify & How To Save

If you have pothos at home, you will find this article of much use. Root rot means rotting of the pothos’ roots.

Now, there are primarily two primary sources that lead to root rot. First, if you have a habit of watering your plant too often, it will lead to waterlogging near the roots.

It blocks the air pockets in the soil and devoids the roots of the required oxygen to breathe. As a result, roots start to decay or rot as the oxygen supply dies further.

If not taken cognizance of at the earliest, being an infection, root rot can spread to the other roots and slowly the whole pothos.

Second, sometimes, there may lie some harmful fungus in the soil without your knowledge. This fungus may not be active now; however, as the conditions around it become favorable, it flourishes and attacks the roots.

Similar to the above case, the fungus will start to rot the roots at a slower pace, and you may not get an idea of what’s happening underneath.

Since everything happens under the soil in both cases, until your pothos develops some symptoms, it’s not possible to make out whether it’s root rot or something else.

So, if you’re too facing this problem, no worries, in the below sections, I’ll discuss everything on root rot.

Ways to Identify Pothos Root Rot?

There are multiple ways to identify whether it’s root rot impacting the pothos or something else is at fault here. These are:

1. Leaves turning yellow/brown

Noticing the discoloration in the leaves of your pothos is the best way to judge the plant’s health. The leaves of pothos are naturally bright green.

However, if there is rotting of the roots taking place, such roots can’t absorb the necessary nutrients, water, and oxygen from the soil and transport them to the leaves.

As a result, the deficiency of these will lead to yellowing or browning of the leaves. Further, note that the yellowing or browning of leaves will take place all over the leaves due to root rot, unlike on a particular side exposed to direct sunlight.

However, since this particular symptom can occur due to other reasons, you should unearth the entire plant and examine the roots before coming to any conclusion.

2. Roots are turning black or decaying?

Healthy roots are brown and dry. However, when infected with root rot, they will change their color to black and appear soggy.

That’s another primary indication of root rot. To confirm, unearth the plant from the pot and examine the roots.

They will appear black and soggy. Besides, there are other symptoms you can infer by looking at the roots to confirm the outbreak of root rot. These are:

  • Weak and mushy roots,
  • Roots are falling off when touched, etc.

In a nutshell, if root rot is the case with your pothos, you will notice that the roots will fall off easily with a black and soggy appearance.

3. Weird smell coming out of the roots of the plant

Healthy roots have an earthy smell. But if any weird smell comes out of the roots, there may be root decaying due to root rot.

One obvious reason behind root rot is overwatering or inadequate drainage. So, you will get a rotten egg’s smell from the rotten roots of your pothos.

4. Growing at a slow pace

Pothos are brilliant houseplants that can grow at a decent rate if provided with all that’s necessary. It includes light, moisture, nutrient-rich soil, etc.

However, one major contributor to the rapid growth of pothos is the ability of the plant’s roots to absorb oxygen from the soil.

If there is root rot under the soil, the fungus will prevent the roots from absorbing oxygen from the soil.

As a result, the plant will experience stunted or slow growth. Hence, notice the pace at which your pothos is growing.

5. Thinning of the canopy

If your pothos is in good shape, it will have a thick and fuller canopy. However, if root rot is there, you might see the fuller canopy thinning away.

Hence, these are the common signs or symptoms of root rot in pothos. Let’s now understand how to save the plant from the disease.

How to Save Pothos from Root Rot?

Once the reasons for root rot are familiar, you can deal with the same and save the pothos from the disease. Some of these ways are:

1. Repot the plant

It is the first step you turn to save your pothos from surrendering to root rot.

When there is rotting of the roots taking place, you won’t like seeing the entire plant go under the hammer. Right? To avoid this, repotting the plant in another clean pot (with holes) with a new batch of soil is the simplest thing you can do.

Gently loosen the soil around the plant either through hands or any tool and slowly pull it out from the pot.

Now, give a gentle shake to the plant to remove the excess and infected soil. Don’t forget to cut off the affected roots that are mushy, soggy, weak, and black in appearance.

Before repotting the remaining healthy plant, wash off the plant with tap water and do the same with the pot as well.

You can also use an organic fungicide for washing purposes. Please place a new and enriched batch of soil mix in the pot and plant the pothos in it. At last, water the plant and let it revive.

2. Be mindful of when and how much to water

After repotting, you must reduce the frequency of watering the pothos plant. Overwatering the pothos is the primary culprit behind damp soil that provides a breeding environment to the fungus causing root rot.

Water only when the top 2-3-inches of the soil appears dry.

Plus, to guarantee the excess water flows out smoothly from the pot, ensure that a hole is present in the center of the pot. The hole will provide a path for excess water to flow out of the soil.


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3. Propagating

Remember that repotting a pothos affected by root rot is only suggested if only some portion of it’s unfit and other roots are okay to get repotted.

However, if you are unfortunate enough to find out that your pothos’s entire root system is unfit for repotting, propagating the plant is for you. To do so, take out some inches long, say 4-5 inches long stem with some green leaves and nodes.

Note that nodes are essential as, from the nodes, only the new roots will originate. Now, you can place this stem in glassware with water.

Within a few days, a new pothos plant with a new and healthy root system will grow out of these nodes. You can now pot this new plant in soil and employ the earlier care & maintenance tips.

These are some ways to save pothos from rotting due to fungus outbursts.


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How do you fix root rot in pothos?

To quickly fix root rot in pothos, below are some tips you can follow

  • If there is no issue visible with the leaves or plant, however, the roots are damp. There are chances that it may initiate root rot, if not now but later. Take the roots out of the plant and spread them over a newspaper to get the excess moisture absorbed by the newspaper. Next, insert the roots back into the pot.
  • If the above tactic doesn’t yield desired results, another quick fix changes the fungus infiltrated soil. Since fungus or other pathogens can live inside the soil without marking their presence, you should straightforwardly change the current soil with a new batch.
  • Use organic fungicides like hydrogen peroxide, cinnamon, and chamomile to fumigate the plant and entire root system. These items work naturally in eliminating the various pathogens, fungus, or bacteria present in the soil.

These are some quick fixes to deal with root rot in your pothos.

Can pothos recover from root rot?

Yes, in most or almost all cases, pothos can recover from root rot. It is on the lines that fungus slowly infects the roots.

Due to this, if you’re even a little bit attentive, you can make out how far has the root rot affected your pothos.

For example, if it’s the beginning, you may not find any visible symptoms, as mentioned above. In that case, excessive dampness in the soil can solely determine the infection.

On the other hand, if you can notice other symptoms on the leaves, stems, etc., you should immediately repot or propagate the plant to save the pothos from dying.

In a nutshell, pothos can recover from root rot provided you act promptly before either the entire root system or the upper plant goes off due to severe root rotting.


Root rot is the most common fungal infection found in plants, irrespective of whether they are outdoor plants or indoors like pothos.

Root rot can occur due to a majority of reasons. However, two common reasons include excessive moisture in the soil or a flawed drainage system.

Both these result in blocking the air pockets in the soil, and the roots fail to absorb the required nutrients and oxygen from the soil.

Hence, the deficiency of these two further harms the remaining plant producing symptoms like wilting stems/leaves, yellowing or browning leaves, etc.