Why Does My Pothos Have Brown Spots?

In this article I will explain the reasons why pothos plants develop brown spots, and the best way to deal with this issue. Pothos plant frequently develop the brown marks on their leaves as well as leaves because of unfavorable growth conditions such as extreme temperatures as well as light and humidity and the excessive use of nutrients and water.

Insect pests , fungal and bacteria-related diseases can also result in the plants to develop brown patches. The problem is usually resolved by improving the growth environment and taking care of any disease that could be impacting pothos plants.

Pothos ( Epipremnum aureum) is an extremely hardy and low-maintenance species that is not often spotted with brown spots when it is grown under favorable conditions. But, when it is grown in conditions that are not ideal or when affected by disease the stems and leaves of pothos often develop brown spots that look unsightly.

The most common reasons for brown spots appearing on plants are:

  • Incorrect watering,
    • too much direct sunlight
    • Humidity
    • Temperature
    • Issues with fertilizers
    • Pests
    • Bacterial diseases
    • fungal diseases

There are a variety of methods to address the problem of the brown patches on plants. The affected areas of the plant are typically removed and then discarded. If the root of the issue is poor environment conditions, then it’s crucial to ensure the proper temperatures, light and humidity levels to the pothos plants.

The brown spots that appear on plants could also be the result of improper maintenance practices, such as improper watering. In these instances you can fix the issue by providing your plants the proper but not too much water.

Over-fertilizing is a different method that can cause the plants to develop brown patches. The remedy to excessive fertilization is to wait for a couple of weeks before applying fertilizer again (at 50 percent of the amount applied previously).

Insect pests can also create the pothos plant to develop brown spots (usually on the upper part of leaves). When the damages aren’t too extensive the brown spot issue is solved by quarantining the plant by cutting off damaged plant parts, and then eliminating the pests with an organic insecticide spray.

When fungal and bacterial infections cause the appearance of brown patches on pothos plant The problem can generally solved if it is detected in the early stages.

A common practice is to quarantine the plants and then removing affected stems and leaves, then applying an appropriate anti-fungal or antibacterial spray.

Disease and insect problems are often the result of inadequate growing conditions. Making improvements to the environment and following the correct maintenance procedures typically help to address problems with diseases and insects and solve the issue of having the brown spot on pothos plants.

How To Identify Brown Spots On Pothos

Brown spots are easily identified on pothos. Pothos that are healthy don’t have markings that are spotted and therefore brown spots are clearly visible when they appear on stems and leaves. Most often the brown spots affect the leaves of pothos more that other areas of the plant.

The spots are rounded (but not completely circular) shape, but not perfectly circular. Like the name suggests, brown spots tend to be brown, and, based on the root of the issue, can range in shades ranging from light grayish-brown and dark brown.

Causes Of Brown Spots On Pothos

Pothos plants may develop brown spots due to a variety of reasons. Let’s take a closer look at the most frequent causes of the brown spot on Pothos.

Incorrect Watering

The incorrect watering method is the main reason for brown spots in pothos plant. Pothos plants are tough and can withstand dry or waterlogged soil for short periods of. However, they are affected if over-watering or under-watering persists over a long period of time.

It’s much easier to create the brown spot on plants in pothos due to excessively watering them than by not enough watering the plants. These brown spots don’t happen by water, but rather by the diseases that are often the result of repeated excessive watering.

The issue begins when there too much water within the soil. The excess moisture stress and weakens the pothos plant because they are deprived of oxygen and their roots’ tissues soften.

In the same time, excessive watering can also create the ideal anaerobic conditions that favor pathogens that are bacterial and fungal.

The pathogens are easily infected by the roots of weak and stressed pothos plants and eventually cause symptoms that show up as brown spots appearing on the stems and leaves of the plants.

Too Much Direct Sunlight

Pothos plants can be damaged when exposed to direct sunlight. If pothos plants are exposed to intense sunlight, which is bright they will get light brown spots and burnt tips on their leaves.

The brown spots are visible on the upper surfaces of the leaves of pothos that are the most exposed to sunlight and can be visible on many inches of leaves.

Pothos leaves develop brown marks in direct sunlight as leaves aren’t able to photosynthesize or respire quickly enough to absorb the light. In the end, the leaf tissue cells die and leaves are left with unattractive brown, scorched-looking marks.

If your plant’s pothos has brown spots on its leaves because of excessive direct sunlight, place the plant in indirect sunlight.

Locating a spot with the right quantity of direct sunlight be contingent on your location, the climate, latitude and the direction of your indoor garden.

sunlight through windows


Low humidity in air can be a frequent reason for brown spots in pothos plant. Pothos plants are tolerant of moderate to high levels of relative humidity because of their tropical roots They are susceptible to damage if the relative humidity levels in the region are not sufficient.

If relative humidity drops to less than 50 percent, pothos plants lose water rapidly due to evaporation. They may be dehydrated (even even if the soil is dry). This is usually the case in winter, especially in indoor growth conditions.

One of the most obvious signs of low humidity is when the leaf tips begin to turn brown and then shriveled.

If the low humidity is creating brown leaves on pothos plants, increasing humidity levels around the plant will solve the issue. To boost the humidity you can use a humidifier or set up a tray filled with water and pebbles that are small under or around the pothos plants.

Pothos plants can also develop brown spots due to excessive humidity, but this is a rare issue. If the humidity is above 90% for long time, the leaves of pothos are not able to properly transpire.

The decreased transpiration leads to excessive water accumulation in plants, which creates ideal conditions for fungal and bacteria-related diseases.

These fungal and bacterial illnesses are the primary cause of brown spots that can appear on the stems and leaves of pothos under conditions of extreme humidity.

The best solution is to reduce the levels of humidity in the area that is growing and treat the disease using the right methods, such as the use of anti-pathogenic sprays and quarantining.


Extreme temperatures can also result in the pothos to develop brown spots. The brown spots are typically caused by low temperatures as the pothos plant is an arid species that thrives in a warm climate between 65F and 75F.

If temperatures fall to below 50F, the leaves of pothos begin to develop brown patches that cover all of the leaf. If temperatures remain cold the leaves will turn black and die.

To fix the issue to resolve the issue, take off the damaged leaves and raise the temperature of the plant. Alternately, you can move the plant to an area that is more sunny and warmer or make use of artificial heating to increase the temperature of the area of growth. If you choose to use heating, be careful not to dry out the air excessively.

Although less frequent, overly high temperatures can cause brown spots on pothos plants.

The scorched, brown-colored markings appear on the leaves of pothos when the environment for growth is at or above 35F for prolonged periods of time, and also when leaves come into contact with windows or are exposed to intense direct sunlight.

To treat brown discoloration caused by extreme temperatures, relocate pothos plants to a location with lower temperatures and less light. If needed, put containers filled with ice water around pothos plants in order to provide a cooling microclimate for the plants.

Fertilizer Issues

Incorrectly applying fertilizer may result in the plants to develop brown marks. The overuse of pothos plants with fertilizer is the most frequent cause of brown discoloration caused by fertilizers (because pothos plants have a lot of nutritional requirements for nutrients).

The signs of damage to fertilizers on pothos plants are leaves that have burned, brown margins and lips, as well as large brown patches towards the middle of the leaves. Pothos plants can also be susceptible to manganese poisoning, which manifests as brownish yellow spots on leaves.

If the problem of over-fertilization isn’t severe enough brown leaf marks on pothos plants could be treated by waiting for at least one month before deciding to apply fertilizer again.

Remove the damaged leaves, and water the plants frequently to remove fertilizer that has accumulated in the soil. Remove those damaged leaves.

If you are re-applying fertilizer to pothos plants, it’s recommended to apply fertilizer with only half the strength of the previous applications.

The issue of under-fertilization is not the most common reason for brown marks in pothos plant. If pothos plants are not receiving enough fertilizer, they suffer from nutritional deficiencies, which result in burnt, brown leaf tips and margins.

Small quantities of general-purpose fertilizer in liquid or dry form to pothos is usually a good way to address the deficiencies in nutrients that cause brown spots on the leaves.


Insect pests can cause brown spots on plants that grow in pothos, however Epipremnum aureum isn’t usually plagued by problems with pests.

The presence of pests like insects on pothos plants is typically due to poor growth conditions and improper maintenance techniques such as over-watering.

The most frequent pests that cause the brown marks on plants are:

  • spider mites,
  • scale,
  • thrips.

Spider mites create tiny circular, gray or white-brown spots on the leaves of pothos. The tiny insects are bright red or orange and barely visible on the leaves’ undersides.

But, the existence of the spider mites on pothos plants can be evident through the distinctive damage to leaves and the spider-like webs that they produce.

The Scale, a dome-shaped insect which can be found in a range of colors from brown to black and orange. The insect also causes leaf spots as it eats sap from pothos.

The spots caused by scales are whitish-brown or gray, and are larger in size and more unusually shaped than the ones that are caused by the spider mites.

The thrips insect is another pest which could create brown patches on plants after they feed upon the saps of the plants.

Tiny, wings-like insects have a light brown color and swarm on the leaves’ undersides. Thrips produce light brown gray and black scattered clusters of spotted spots on top of the leaves of pothos.

If the issue is detected in the early enough time, it is usually solved by securing the plants affected and removing the damaged leaves and eliminating the pests using the use of a pesticide spray.

In the majority of cases it is enough to take care of insects that cause spots of discoloration on the leaves of pothos.

Leaf Spot Diseases

A variety of fungal bacteria, viral, and fungal pathogens cause leaf spot disease on pothos. The microbial pathogens feed on the tissue and sap of the leaves of pothos, which causes damage to the leaves and ugly spots.

Based on the pathogen that is at play, the leaf spot disease manifests as spots that range from white to gray black, and brown. In the center, the mark tends to be smaller than its borders, that are usually darker brown, or even black.

Leaf spot diseases typically result from excess soil moisture and also when the leaves of pothos become damp. Airflow issues can exacerbate the issue of excessive moisture, making the conditions favorable to the growth of leaf spot disease.

The most effective method for treating leaf spot disease in the pothos plant is to separate those affected from growth zone. After quarantine, gently take off the affected leaves and apply a light concentration of a suitable type of pesticide.

Fungal Leaf Spots

Fungal diseases can cause leaf spots on pothos leaves (www.edis.ifas.ufl.edu). Similar to the bacterial leaf spot disease causes of fungal leaf spot diseases on pothos plants are waterlogged soil, wet leaves, and inadequate airflow in the area of growth.

Spots on leaves caused by pathogen fungi species are visible on pothos leaves as dark brown dots with yellow borders. When the condition worsens, the spots meld and create small black spots. In the end, the fungal leaf spot can cause the leaves of pothos to die.

Fungal root rot disease can also cause brown spots on the leaves of pothos. Pothos, for instance, can be susceptible to infection from Phytophthora Nicotianae, a kind of mold in water that is responsible for the root rot disease known as Phytophthora.

When Phytophthora as well as other fungal root rots infect the pothos plant’s roots and cause brown marks on the leaves. In the later stages that the illness is in, the brown marks turn black and eventually, the leaves end up dying.

Treatment of pothos plants that are that are affected by fungal leaf spot disease requires placing the plants in quarantine, taking off the affected leaves, and spraying them with an organic fungicide that is mild.

After the plant is recovering, put the plant in a place with indirect sunlight and sufficient airflow. avoid over-watering the plant.


Anthracnose is a well-known fungal infection that causes discolored marks in pothos plant. It is caused by several different genera of fungi which include Colletrotrichum andGloeosporium (www.ipm.ucanr.edu). Pothos is often a sign of anthracnose when the conditions for growth are too humid and do not have adequate airflow.

Pothos plants that are affected by anthracnose disease show leaves with light brown spots which turn dark brown, and then black. The leaf marks also increase and extend over the leaf’s surfaces as disease advances.

If left untreated when it is not treated, anthracnose can kill affected leaves, and eventually the entire plant will go to a death.

If your plant’s pothos has anthracnose, you must follow the same general guidelines to treat fungal diseases on pothos plant. Remove the plant with disease and remove the damaged leaves, then apply a small amount in organic fungicide.

If pothos plants heal from anthracnose-related infections be sure to put them in a location that has adequate airflow and indirect sunlight. Be careful not to create excessively humid conditions for growth. Don’t give plant too much moisture, and also don’t let the foliage get damp.


Rust is also a widespread fungal disease that can cause brown marks in pothos plant. There are a variety of fungal species causes the rust ( www.rhs.org.uk). The fungal disease is usually triggered when the soil is too moist.

Rust disease in pothos begins with small, light brown flat spots, which then transform into red or yellowish-orange pustules, or bumps (depending on the particular fungal species) that are part of the fungus that release spores.

The presence of severe cases of rust can cause pothos leaves to turn yellow and then falling off, and the entire plant could eventually die.

To combat rust disease in pothos, you must implement the standard treatment for fungal diseases. The first step is to isolate the affected plants, then remove the damaged leaves, apply fungicide, then wait for the plant to begin to show signs of improvement. Finally, make sure that the plants are in good growing conditions before returning the newly rehabilitated plants.

Bacterial Leaf Spot

Bacterial leaf spot disease can cause the appearance of brown marks on pothos plants. The disease is often triggered when pothos leaves are submerged in the water or when the soil is flooded.

The excessive moisture creates ideal conditions for bacteria like Pseudomonas cichorii to infect the plants and cause leaf spot disease (www.extension.psu.edu).

Bacterial leaf spot diseases on leaves of pothos usually manifests as spots of light brown with the yellow borders. If the leaves continue to get wet, and the disease continues to progress the spots join to form large, whitish-brown patches that appear on leaves. In drier conditions, the spots remain small, and they turn reddish-brown (www.hgic.clemson.edu).

If leaf spot disease is serious, the affected pothos plants may require to be removed. If the disease is caught in a timely manner it can be saved by cutting off the affected leaves and stopping the overhead watering. Place the plants in a dry area with a high flow of air will aid in the recovery of the plants.

How To Prevent Brown Spots On Pothos

The prevention of brown spots on pothos is easy and is achievable by maintaining a healthy growth environment and proper maintenance methods.

If you provide a healthy environment and following the correct maintenance techniques, you will help maintain the health of your plants and ensure that they remain gorgeous and free of any imperfections.

The ideal conditions for pothos plants include:

  • indirect light,
  • Warm temperatures,
  • moderate to high humidity
  • adequate airflow,
  • cleanliness.

The location of the growing should offer pothos plants that are exposed to direct sunlight that is bright and intense.

Pothos plants also require an area that is warm to grow and the ideal temperature is between 65F to 75F. The relative humidity should be between 55%-75 percent to ensure that pothos plants remain well-nourished.

Pothos plants require sufficient (but not overly) air circulation in the area of growth to supply carbon dioxide, which will reduce the risk of fungal diseases. The growing space should be clean of dirt and decaying plant matter can also aid in preventing fungal and bacterial infections.

Plants that grow pothos also need proper maintenance to stop brown spots from forming on the plant. The most appropriate maintenance practices are:

  • Correct watering
  • proper fertilizer application,
  • leaf cleanliness.

Give pothos plants enough water to ensure their health However, be cautious not to over-water your plants. It is recommended that the soil be slightly damp most times, but it is recommended to allow the top layer of the soil dry out somewhat before you give the pothos plants additional water.

Make sure that pothos plants get sufficient fertilizer to meet their needs for physiological growth. Because of the low requirements for nutrients, fertilizing pothos too much can pose more risk than under-fertilizing. Fertilizers should be applied sparingly and in small amounts to prevent burning the plants that are nourished with too much nutrients.

Keep pothos stems and leaves clean by regularly wiping them using simple water or a mild solution of hydrogen peroxide and water or apple cider vinegar.

Cleaning your leaves regularly will aid in preventing dust accumulation and diseases from negatively impacting the pothos plant’s health.

Frequently Asked Questions

I’ve covered the majority of the essential information you require to know in order to recognize and treat spots of brown on your pothos, but there’s always more you need to know. Here are the answers to a few common questions regarding pothos plants.

Why Does My Pothos Have Brown Spots On The Stem?

Pests and diseases are the main causes of marks or brown spots on the stems of pothos.

Fungal diseases such as anthracnose and rust can result in brown spots on the stems of pothos. Bacterial wilt diseases can cause the pothos plant’s stems to acquire dark-brown marks which eventually turn black and over the stem when it goes to rot. The fungal and bacterial illnesses typically result from excessive watering.

Pests from insects can also create brown spots on the stems of pothos. They consume pothos stems, which result in brown, irregular marks. Certain insects, like mealybugs and scale also leave behind remnants that appear in the form of brown marks on the plant’s stems.

Incorrectly designed and cultivated environments, as well as poor maintenance practices are usually the first causes of insects and diseases that result in brown spots on the stems of pothos.

Achieving a healthy and productive environment and applying the right amount of fertilizer and water is usually the solution of discoloration that is brown on the stems of pothos.

Should I Cut Off Brown Spots On Pothos?

It is recommended to cut off pothos stems and leaves with brown spots, but it is contingent on the severity of the issue. If you see only small spots that do not spread quickly, there may be no need to cut off the affected stem or leaf.

If the brown spots or marks are expanding rapidly, take out the entire stem or leaf. After you have removed the affected areas of the pothos, take the correct remedial steps to resolve the root for the spots to become brown.

How To Tell If Your Pothos Is Dying?

It is easy to tell whether your pothos is dying if you notice any or all of the following indicators:

  • extremely stunted growth
  • The leaf is drooping and the stem is sagging,
  • Dark brown or black marks on stems and leaves,
  • Leaves are falling off.

The signs that a plant’s pothos is dying may vary based on the root cause of the issue, therefore it is essential to examine the plants to determine the cause of the issue.



Went from a bad gardener to a half-decent one over 10+ years. Super happy to share my tips and tricks with you :)