Pothos is angry

by Andrew S.
(Ithaca, NY)

Hello again!

I have this pothos plant that I have had for a few years now. When I first got it it's legs were super long (4+ feet) but the legs were mostly bare, so I eventually chopped them all off and it was growing much better.

Recently though, it has started to have its leaves turning yellow to brown and dying. I have no idea why though. Before, the leaves would do this when they were on the leggy parts, but as you can see in the pictures, this is right up on top of the plant.

I have not changed where the plant is, it still gets the same water (tap which sits out for a few days). Any thoughts?

Drought Smart Plants reply:

Hi Andrew - my first thought when I see a plant looking like this is that there is some kind of issue with the roots, although the way the leaves are curling up could indicate something else.

There are many kinds of root rot fungus which are dormant in the soil (yes, even pasteurized potting soil!) so in this case, I would take the plant right out of the pot and check what the roots look like.

Healthy roots will be white or pale coloured, especially on the ends; rotting roots, well, they'll be rotting. They will either be dark brown or black, and mushy. If this is the case, then carefully pull away any that look like this, until you reach some that look as though they are okay (if any).

Repot in fresh potting soil, and water carefully.

You're doing the right thing with the tap water, as long as it doesn't run through a water softening unit - if it does, this is the culprit. Sorry to say, but the use of water that has the water softening salts in it is the leading cause of houseplant death (right after excess water).

I notice that on the inside of the pot in one of the pictures it does show some salt build up.

Sometimes this is caused by not enough leaching of the soil after being fertilized. Depending on the fertilizer you're using, flush the pot completely a couple of times - the way I do it is to take the plants outside during a rain shower, which may or may not be possible where you live.

Other thoughts; some plants are extremely sensitive to the fumes from natural gas stoves. If you have started using your furnace after a long summer without heating your home, sometimes this will happen. Get your furnace checked for leaks!

Let me know how it goes, and if any of these suggestions are of use.

Happy Growing!

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Sep 30, 2011
by: Andrew S.

I will definitely try to take the plant out and check the roots.

I don't fertilize, don't have natural gas, don't have water softener. :) So I will check on the roots and then see where to go from there.


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