While all pothos plants, Epipremnum and Scindapsus, are relatively easy to grow most plant owners will come across an issue or two. One of the more common issues people encounter are pothos leaves curling.
Learn what can cause your pothos leaves to curl, what you can do for the plant to help it quickly bounce back, and measures to take to prevent curling in the future.
Luckily all pothos varieties are hardy plants, and more often than not, curling of the leaves indicates a beginning of the problem, and your plant will likely bounce back. The sooner you act, the better are the chances for complete recovery.
Why are Your Pothos Leaves Curling?
With proper care, you will avoid this issue, so if you haven’t already learned all there is to know about pothos care, do give our care guide a read as well.
While there are a few things that can cause the curling of pothos leaves, most often, water is the culprit (in one way or another). When the leaves aren’t getting enough water, the water loss from the leaf will cause it to curl.
1. Underwatering is the most Common Cause for Pothos leaves Curling
Underwatering is the number one cause for pothos leaves curling. These plants are pretty good at retaining water, so they will forgive you for forgetting to water them occasionally. You might have even be given advice that this plant thrives with neglect. That advice was a bad one. While these plants don’t need frequent watering as many others, regular and good watering routines are key to keeping them healthy.
Make underwatering a habit and the leaves will start to curl as they loose water.
How to know if this is the issue causing your pothos leaves curling?
You may notice the leaves drooping, the plant looking wilted along the leaves being curled up.
The soil will be dry. If it’s severely dry it might even shrink and separate from the pot. You might need to soak the soil in water for it to loosen up, especially if the water runs through the pot as you water your plant.
If the soil is dried up, soak the plant for half an hour, drain excess water and check the soil. If it’s still looking shrank, repeat the process. You can poke the soil with a toothpick or a fork for it to loosen up a little.
The soil should drain well. If you water your plant and the soil is still wet to the touch (on top) days after watering, that’s not good either and will lead to overwatering. Consider repotting your plant into better soil.
When you water your plant, you need to make sure the soil dries up a little before you water the plant again. Water should not collect at the bottom of the pot – your pothos should never sit in water if you grow it in soil.
Water your plant, and it should bounce back in no time. Make sure you water your Pothos more frequently from now on.
2. Overwatering – Root Rot
This is the first possible cause you need to exclude. While curling leaves due to underwatering are the most common cause for pothos leaves curling, it’s the overwatering that can lead to your plant dying a whole lot faster.
If your pot is too big for the plant, the soil will hold a lot more water than ideal for your plant, which too can lead to overwatering.
Check the soil. If it’s still damp days after you have watered your plant, you are overwatering. Let the soil dry a bit before you water again.
Overwatering is usually caused by watering too frequently and letting the water sit in the pot. Make sure you water only when the first inch or so of the soil dries up and let all the excess water drain out from drainage holes when you water.
If you have been overwatering your plant for a while, chances are root rot has developed. Rotted roots can not function properly and won’t supply nutrients and water to the leaves, which will cause the leaves to curl, yellow, and eventually die.
If it’s only the beginning stages, drying out the soil and watering less frequently in the future will do the trick.
If the issue has gone too far, you will need to (gently) pull out the plant and inspect the roots. Check if you can see any dark, mushy, and foul-smelling roots, and remove them with sterile tools. Plant into fresh soil,w and don’t forget to sterilize the pot if you will be planting your plant into the same pot.
3. Too much fertilizer
Pothos plants don’t need frequent fertilization, so if you have been regularly and generously fertilizing your plant, this might be the cause for the leaves curling.
Leaves can start to curl, but there are also other signs to look out for. The edges of the leaves may be discolored. You can notice white crust forming on top of the soil, this being mineral buildup. The growth can be stunted too.
Too much fertilizer will damage the roots as well as make the soil around the roots less favorable. This will lead to the roots not fully supplying the plant with nutrients and water (water again!).
If you suspect you have been over-fertilizing, flush the soil to remove the mineral buildup. Let the water run through the soil for a minute (gently, you don’t want to lose soil through the drainage holes). Make sure all the excess water is drained once you are done.
Avoid fertilizing this season and fertilize less frequently next year. It’s easier to over-fertilize a pothos than not give it enough fertilizer.
Repotting in fresh soil is also an option, but this does bring additional stress to the plant. Repotting should be done as a last resort.
3. Too Much Light direct (leaf dehydration)
To much direct sunlight will cause the water from the soil to evaporate faster and will also lead to leaves losing water faster than they can recover it.
Pothos love bright light, but it should be indirect. If your plant is in direct sun and your watering routine is OK, move it to an area with less light.
4. High temperatures
Similar to too much light, temperatures that are too high will make the soil dry out faster and lead to water loss in the leaves.
Adjust your watering routine and move your pothos to a cooler area if possible.
5. Low humidity
Pothos is great at tolerating low humidity, so this isn’t a likely cause. However, if the humidity is really low this can add to the problem.
Low humidity is rarely the sole reason for Pothos leaves curling so consider other issues as well.
Pest infestations can cause all kinds of issues. While pests aren’t as common a cause as underwatering, it is always a good idea to check your plant for signs of an infestation if the plant is struggling.
Pests can do mechanical damage to the leaves, even cutting off nutrient and water supply to the leaf. Some can damage the roots as well. If the infestation is too severe, your plant can die. Not to mention pests can spread from plant to plant really fast. Always check for pests.
Check under the leaves and inspect the stems. We recommend using a magnifying glass (you can get one with an LED light that is really handy) as some pests such as spider mites are hard to spot without it.
There are many ways to deal with pests, so choose whichever method works for you to remove pests from your pothos.
7. Old Leaves Dying
If you notice an odd old leaf curling here and there and the plant is otherwise healthy and pushing out new leaves this is normal.
As the leaves age, they die. If your plant is pushing out a lot of new growth, it may even sacrifice some of the old leaves to focus the energy on new growth.
8. New Growth
It is normal for new growth to come our curled up, however if your plant is healthy it should uncurl fully.
If you notice new leaves are staying curled, something is off. Any of the previous causes could be causing this (old leaves excluded), and the new leaves are the first ones to show it. Most commonly, though, the leaves are not uncurling due to the under-watering.