Pothos Root Rot Symptoms and Solution

Pothos Root Rot Symptoms Image

Pothos root rot has been a nuisance for many gardeners and has been so for several years. This menace can be extremely dangerous for pothos plants in most cases.

So, if you’re here looking for a way out for your pothos, don’t worry! I’ve prepared this blog post solely to help you out. In it, you’ll know how to treat root rot. 

We’ll look at 10 pothos root rot symptoms apart from the treatment. Further, in this blog post, I’ll provide you with a step-by-step guide that’ll help save your pothos. So, continue reading.

Pothos Root Rot Symptoms

The most common sign of pothos root rot is willing yellow leaves that become translucently thin. The roots may also feel soggy with a black or brown color. If tested with a probe tool like an electronic moisture meter, it will typically read very high levels in waterlogged soils leading to root rot.

What Is Pothos Root Rot?

Pothos root rot is a disease that makes the roots of your pothos plant start rotting. That usually happens when a plant parent like me and you overwater their pothos. But apart from overwatering, a fungal infection from the soil can cause it too.

You’ll see leaf discoloration and horrid smells when pothos root rot occurs. Moreover, if you notice the pothos’ affected roots have turned black or brown, then there’s root rot. 

As a fellow gardener, I suggest you cut off the damaged roots ASAP! Do so immediately when you identify pothos root rot. Afterward, repot your pothos within sterile potting soil. 

Remember, the pothos pot should have several drainage holes. I wouldn’t want you to go back to square one. Trust me, the remaining healthy roots may start rotting if the pot isn’t well-aerated. 

What Causes Root Rot in Pothos Plant?

Overwatering: Pothos in water root rot

Pothos, like most indoor plants, doesn’t need much moisture. But that’s unless you’re using moisture as a growing medium. On the same, if you’re using soil as the growing medium, then overwatering is harmful. 

In short, waterlogged soil can precipitate rot in your pothos root system. Moreover, adding excess moisture to the soil limits oxygen availability in the roots.

In such a case, the pothos plant’s roots may have breathing difficulty. Shockingly, if you didn’t know, plants experience a similar breathing difficulty to humans. That then causes stress on your pothos. 

Poor Drainage Capacity of Soil

The worst combo you could have is overwatering and poorly drained soil. Trust me, if you do, you’ll be brewing something disastrous for your pothos. Even worse, you’ll be slowly killing your lovely pothos. And would you like that? I bet you wouldn’t.

When your soil doesn’t properly drain, moisture builds up inside the pot. And if you aren’t aware, that creates an uncomfortable environment for the roots. I’d liken that situation to that of overwatering. 

Even if moisture isn’t in excess, your pothos root drowns when drainage isn’t enough. Because of that, the healthy pothos roots will eventually rot. So, to prevent root rot, pick well-draining potting soil.

Also, ensure you use a sterile potting mix. 

Poor Drainage in Pots

Is your potting soil well-draining, and you don’t overwater your pothos, but there’s still root rot? If that’s so, chances are, your pothos pot has a severe drainage issue. It would help to check the plant pot.

Other than wanting to know if pothos need drainage, confirm does it have suitable drainage holes? Does it let moisture pass through it freely?

If your pothos pot takes around an hour for the moisture to drain, ditch it. Look for a new pothos pot ASAP. Like right now!

Pots or containers with poor drainage will only cause your pothos headaches. By that, I mean its soil will remain soggy for extended periods. And it shouldn’t be normal. That’s so since it’ll initiate pothos root rot. 

Extra-large/small Pots

Besides poor drainage, your pot’s size may be unfavorable for your pothos. That’s often the case when the pot is extra large. Moreover, when the pot’s too big, it creates room for more soil and moisture.

If that’s the case, the pot may get extra wet for the pothos roots.

Elsewhere, tiny pots may cause the pothos root to somewhat bind together. And when there’s root bound, the pot clogs. All those factors complicate the drainage of excess moisture. 

Pathogenic Infections

Different pathogen types can infect your pothos roots, causing root rot. In turn, that may cause your pothos to experience stunted growth. These plant pathogens can exist in the potting soil or in moisture you splash on your pothos. 

Further, Phytophthora, a water mold, can infect the pothos roots when it infects your plant. It’ll develop root rot. This pathogen infection may spread to your plant’s stems or leaves even worse. 

Another notable pathogen you should take a keen interest in is Pythium. This Pythium pathogen causes Pythium root rot. Moreover, a potting mix may have this specific pathogen in most cases. 

Please periodically change the potting mix to keep your pothos plant healthy. 

Extremely Low Temperature

Often, pothos develops well in a 60 to 85℉ (15 to 29℃) temperature range. Also, it tolerates a lower temperature of 50℉ (10℃). Unfortunately, it can do so for a short stint. 

Please, never let the temperature drop past that range. I firmly say that because temperatures below that won’t be ideal for your pothos. Moreover, such extremely low temperatures make the soil remain soggy/wet. 

So, it has root rot if you’ve already exposed your pothos to such low temperatures. But don’t worry. If that’s so, hydrogen peroxide will do the magic. This solution aids in treating pothos root rot without repotting. 

You’re lucky. That’s a secret root rot weapon that not every gardener knows! All said low temperatures trigger root rot.

Watering on Dormant Periods

When plants rest, this period is what gardeners call “plant dormancy.” It’s a normal process any plant undergoes when growth conditions aren’t favorable. 

This dormant period occurs mainly during winter. It happens at such a time because of extremely low temperatures. And since it’s a rest period, your pothos may appear like they’re in sleep mode. 

Further, since the pothos is dormant, it will need less moisture. So, I’d advise against watering your pothos at this stage.

Otherwise, it may develop stress, causing permanent damage like root rot. 


Have you been excessively fertilizing your pothos of late? And is your pothos starting to die? If that’s so, I’m sad that you’ve taken it too far. Excess fertilizer adds excess salts to the potting soil.

This excess salts later on cause the pothos roots to shrivel. Further, root damage from excess fertilizer prevents normal root functions. Thus, the pothos roots become open to root rot. 

Pothos Root Rot Symptoms

1. The leaves are drooping

When pothos root rot strikes, the first sign is always drooping leaves. That happens when the pothos roots are waterlogged. Also, that occurs when the roots can’t deliver nutrients to the pothos leaves. 

So, when you notice your pothos has drooping leaves, use your finger to check the potting soil. If your soil is bone-dry, your pothos needs watering. The watering helps the pothos leaves to perk up. 

Further, if the potting soil is somewhat moist, chances are there’s root rot.

2. The leaves are falling off

When the pothos leaves begin falling off, that’s a more advanced root rot sign. The falling off happens when the pothos roots no longer support it. In the worst cases, the roots may be rotting away wholly. 

If the pothos leaves drop rapidly, this shows that root rot is becoming worse. If so, your pothos may not recover from the root rot. Moreover, if you see such a sign, cut all the affected roots immediately. 

3. The leaves are growing smaller

Another pothos root rot symptom is stunted growth or development. This sign is common in most root rot cases. Further, the pothos leaves may become smaller than usual. In short, your pothos may not be growing as tall as they should. 

Also, your pothos may become leggy, meaning its leaves may grow sparsely. Apart from that, the stem may thin out to preserve energy. It does so when going upward, trying to get sunlight support. 

4. The plant is short and shrubby

When your pothos becomes short and shrubby, that’s a root rot tell-tale sign. Often, that happens when the roots can’t support the pothos weight. That makes it start falling over.

Essentially, your pothos has halted its growth. It does so to fight off the root rot’s fungal infection.

5. The leaves are turning yellow

If you didn’t know, another pothos root rot sign is yellow leaves. If its leaves begin turning yellow and falling off, your pothos isn’t producing chlorophyll. This chlorophyll has always been essential for plant growth via photosynthesis. 

Further, photosynthesis is a process where a pothos or any other plant makes food. So, without it, your pothos will starve and then die slowly.

Again, root rot prevents your plant’s roots from absorbing adequate nutrients from the potting soil. 

6. You see brown splotches on the leaves

When you observe black or brown splotches on your plant’s leaves, it’s a root rot sign. In other words, your pothos has fungal leaf spots. This fungal leaf spot is a result of root rot.

7. The roots are mushy and discolored

Mushy or discolored roots are often the first root rot sign. In this case, the decaying roots may begin falling off quickly.

That happens whenever you try pulling on them. Further, the infected roots may give off an uncomfortable or foul odor.

8. Pests are present

Pothos plants become vulnerable to pests when they’ve got root rot. These plant pests attack your pothos since it’s weak and easy to feed on. Moreover, these pest infections are the last nail in the coffin for pothos. 

That’s especially when the root rot has completely shaken your pothos.

9. Mold and mildew are present

Another common pothos root rot sign is mold and mildew. Usually, mold may form on the pothos leaves and stems. Also, the same may be present on the pothos roots if visible.

Moreover, you can identify powdery mildew via a white-powdery fungus. This fungus forms on the pothos leaves.

10. Foul smell from the pot

If your pothos is giving off an odor similar to that of rotten eggs, then it’s experiencing root rot. If your pothos has such an odor, you may have overwatered it in one way or another. 

Also, a decaying odor from the roots is another pothos root rot symptom. Healthy pothos roots give off an earthly smell. So, if that isn’t the case, it’s likely that you’ve got pothos root rot. 

How to Save Pothos from Root Rot


Validating that there’s a pothos root rot is the first thing you must do. Of course, you’ll need to pull your pothos off from the container or pot. Afterward, you’ll report it ASAP!

By doing that, you’ll have a better chance of observing the damage’s intensity on the pothos roots. But if you aren’t familiar with that, here’s how to go about it:

  1. Remove your pothos from its current pot. To do that, turn it sideways while holding on to the stem’s base. Still at that, tap the pothos container gently, loosening the compact potting soil. Pull your pothos from the pot little by little.
  2. Loosen the plant’s roots, and remove the potting soil binding it. You can then shake your pothos to clear excess soil. 
  3. Inspect the roots to see if there are rotting portions on them. Check the texture and color. The color shouldn’t be brown, and your pothos shouldn’t be slimy when you touch them. If that’s the case, you’ll need to trim the affected roots. 
  4. Now, it’s that time. Please, prepare a fresh potting mix. But remember, this potting mix shouldn’t be sterile. That’s to ensure that no plant pathogens exist. Also, ensure you’ve dumped away the plant’s old potting mix. Finally, don’t mix the two potting mixes. Otherwise, there will be cross-contamination. 
  5. Pick a suitable-sized pothos pot. Ensure you’ve cleaned it. Afterward, add some potting mix to the pot’s bottom. Put your pothos on top, then pour the fresh potting mixture on its sides. Ensure you put enough potting soil. Doing so helps you prevent your pothos from sagging.

Watering after Report

Another crucial element of saving your pothos from rot is an adequate water schedule. That’s so, especially if you’ve newly repotted your pothos. Here’s how to water your pothos:

  • Water the pothos, then give it some minutes to drain properly
  • Often, wait for the potting soil to dry completely before watering again.

Care After Repotting

After repotting your pothos, care and maintenance are crucial. Even better, that’s straightforward to do since. Trust me, less hard work is needed here. However, never neglect this pothos care step after repotting.

Here’s how to care for a pothos plant after repotting:

  1. Put your newly repotted pothos under the shade. But remember, your pothos went through stress during repotting. So, direct sunlight may add more stress to it. And I’m sure that’s not what we all want, right?
  2. Repot your pothos after 12 to 18 months. Your pothos will need new growing media. The new media will boost your pothos life.


The propagation step is often for plants with severe damage. In short, it’s a step for impossible plants to save. Moreover, you can only save an overwatered pothos that’s slightly damaged. And that’s by repotting it as we’ve discussed above. 

If you’re unlucky and have pothos with completely rotten roots, propagation is the sole solution. Luckily, propagating a pothos is very easy! You’ll only need to cut long stems (4-5 inches). The pothos stem has to have some nodes and leaves. 

Your pothos having nodes is crucial since new roots will come from the same nodes. Moreover, keep the pathos cut portions in water-filled glassware. The new pothos roots will come out in about 3-4 weeks.

Now, place your cuttings on the potting soil, keeping it in the shade. Also, keep the potting soil moist. That’ll help the new roots to adjust to their new environment. 

How to Prevent and Control Pothos Root Rot?

Avoid Waterlogging

Most pothos root rots come from excess water in the container or soil. So, to avoid pothos root rot, always control your water input. Again, always pour enough moisture for your pothos.

It would be best to use a single container when watering the pothos. That ensures you’re using a constant water volume every time. Further, using a right-sized pothos pot also helps prevent waterlogging. 

Pick a suitable container or pot with adequate drainage holes for your pothos.

Set Up a Watering Schedule

I strongly advise you to have a frequent watering schedule. On the same, the time interval of the watering is consistent. That’ll offer equal spaces for the potting soil to dry. And that’s before the successive watering. 

However, you may need to adjust the watering schedule at other times. Well, the adjustment depends on the weather. Always look out for a sudden change in the environment. 

Loosen the Soil

If you never knew, soil structure is very crucial. The goal should be for you to increase your soil’s porosity. By doing so, you’ll create more air space. Thus, your pothos root system will get adequate oxygen circulation. 

Moreover, well-aerated potting soil can improve drainage too. To do that, repair your soil using organic matter, for example, peat moss. Also, sterilize the existing soil before turning it into a potting medium.

That’ll kill existing plant pathogens that may affect your pothos plant roots. Also, put rocks or pebbles at the pot’s bottom before adding soil. Or, try using soil with a sandy texture.

Implement Plant Rotation

As long as the host is there, soil-borne pathogens will always thrive. But practicing plant rotation will prevent that. Moreover, you can keep non-host plants till the point the fungi die. 

Doing so prevents the pathogens from inflicting more damage on your pothos again. However, you’ll need to study the pathogen’s behavior. Otherwise, the plant rotation will be unsuccessful, something you wouldn’t want. 

Further, it would be helpful to consider the following things:

  • How long it takes for the pathogen to die when in the soil
  • Other plant types susceptible to the fungi

Treat the Soil with Fungicide

You can treat your soil using a fungicide if you doubt its condition. Moreover, a fungicide is a preventative treatment. This fungicide prevents fungal disease development in the soil.

Also, it cleans the soil, clearing harmful pathogens. Alternatively, you can apply a bio fungicide. This fungicide usually has beneficial fungi. 

Do Not Overfertilize

Ensure you apply a recommended or suitable fertilizer. Excess fertilizer can interfere with the soil environment, affecting the root system. As much as possible, please, use organic fertilizers. 

With organic fertilizers, you won’t need to worry about root damage when you overdo it. Further, natural fertilizer is a slow-release. It can even last past three to five months.

Ensure Care Requirements

It would help to maintain a pothos care routine. That includes frequent checks or inspections of your pothos plant. Further, by doing so, you’ll have a chance of spotting abnormalities at early stages. 

Will Pothos with Root Rot Recover?

Yes, your pothos can recover from root rot. But that’s possible when you tackle the issue early enough. That’s why it’s always critical to put up preventative measures. And this is before you plant your pothos.

Further, the following affect your pothos health or well-being:

  • The quality of the potting soil
  • The pot you pick for your pothos
  • Water volume you’ll use
  • Watering schedule

Carefully observing your pothos changes and behavior will help you identify problems early. Moreover, by implementing the suggestions above, your pothos will survive.

Root Rot vs Healthy Roots in Pothos

When your pothos roots are healthy, they’ll be firm and light or white-colored. Moreover, they shouldn’t be discolored or mushy. Elsewhere, pothos with root rot will have mushy or discolored roots.

Also, the pothos roots will fall off easily. Moreover, you can easily see, feel, or smell that distinction. Also, the pothos root rot may give off an uncomfortable odor. But for pothos with healthy roots, the smell is often earthy or fresh.


Can a pothos plant with no healthy roots be saved? 

Yes. If you identify the root rot early enough, you can save your dying pothos. By that, I mean when the root rot hasn’t affected the leaves. For that, you’ll need at least four healthy green leaves remaining.

Remember, these leaves should be green and not yellow. Moreover, to save your lovely pothos, use rooting hormones. These hormones boost the root growth of your pothos.

Why does my pothos plant keep on getting root rot?

Overwatering conditions can cause pothos root rot. That’s usually when its roots die due to a lack of oxygen. Also, fungi in infected soil can cause pothos root rot. On the same, these living fungi flourish because of overwatering.

What does pothos root rot look like?

An obvious pothos root rot sign is its leaves wilting slowly and turning yellow. That happens even when there’s soil moisture. Also, if the roots look black or brown or feel soggy, that’s pothos root rot. 

How do you fix root rot in pots?

Root Rot

  1. Remove your plant from its pot. Afterward, break off the potting soil from the plant’s root ball.
  2. Trim away the rotting roots using sterilized scissors.
  3. Prune back your plant’s foliage.
  4. Toss the remaining original soil.
  5. Use a bleach-water solution to wash the plant pot. That’ll help kill any bacteria or fungus.

How do you fix root rot in pothos without repotting?

Drenching your pothos in a hydrogen and water (1:4) solution can fix root rot. This hydrogen peroxide helps kill fungus spores. Also, it helps stop its spread. Further, apply a fungicide to your potting mix. Doing that prevents the above fungus from returning. 

How do you fix root rot in a pothos in water?

Pothos are always susceptible to attack from root rot. That’s true, especially when they’re in the water for extended periods. So, if you suspect your pothos has root rot, remove it from the water. After that, allow the pothos roots to dry.

Moreover, you can apply different techniques to save your pothos plant from root rot. An excellent example of such a methods is replacing water with fungicides.

Why are my pothos roots brown in water?

Your pothos roots turn brown in water when they experience root rot. Moreover, if the pothos roots don’t get enough oxygen, they’ll also turn brown. That happens when you don’t change the pot’s water frequently enough. 

How fast does root rot in pothos happen?

Root rot enters into tiny susceptible roots of your pothos very fast. Again, the pothos root rot also spreads to its whole system quickly. Unlike other plants, pothos is more sensitive to root rot. Unfortunately, your pothos can die within seven days after an initial root infection.

Can a potted plant recover from root rot?

No. Reversing a root rot is not possible. Moreover, treating root rot involves cutting the plant’s affected portions. Once you remove the dying or rotting parts, you can repot your plant in fresh soil.  Doing so gives a fresh start to healthy roots.


Pothos root rot is something sad, especially for beginner gardeners. But don’t worry! Just relax and check if your pothos has black leaves or a decaying smell. And if you notice such symptoms, start uprooting your pothos slowly. 

Finally, start the repotting process immediately if you’re experiencing a pothos root rot. 

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