Why Are My Pothos Stems Turning Brown? Find Solutions Here!

If you’re a proud owner of a Pothos plant, you know how low-maintenance and beginner-friendly they are. These green beauties rarely give their owners any trouble. However, every now and then, problems can arise, and one issue that can occur is brown stems. If you’ve noticed your Pothos stems turning brown, don’t worry! We’re here to help you identify the possible causes and find solutions to get your plant back to good health.

Overwatering: A Common Culprit

One of the main causes of brown stems in Pothos plants is overwatering. Pothos leaves are thicker than many other houseplants, holding a significant amount of water. While they appreciate regular watering, they prefer the soil to dry out slightly between waterings.

When you overwater your Pothos, the excess moisture can cause the roots and stems to become soft and lack the oxygen they need. This can lead to brown, mushy stems. If the issue is minor, simply allow the soil to dry out and adjust your watering routine. However, if the stems are severely affected, it’s crucial to take immediate action.

Remove the plant from its pot, wash off all the soil, and trim off any rotten roots. Repot the Pothos into fresh soil, ensuring good drainage. Prune any vines with severely damaged stems to allow the plant to focus on establishing new roots.

Incorrect Soil: A Simple Fix

Choosing the wrong soil or neglecting soil health can also result in brown Pothos stems. These plants thrive in airy and well-draining soil. Using a mixture of potting soil, coconut coir, and perlite will ensure the right balance of moisture retention and drainage.

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If your Pothos is potted in unsuitable soil or if the soil has become compacted over time, it can cause moisture problems and lead to brown stems. The solution is a quick and easy repotting. Keep an eye on your plant’s progress and remove any parts that don’t recover.

Underwatering: Don’t Forget to Hydrate

On the other end of the spectrum, underwatering can also cause brown stems in Pothos plants. If you notice your Pothos leaves turning brown, it’s a sign that the plant is heavily underwatered. This problem can spread to the stems, leaving them dry, stiff, and discolored.

Pothos plants require watering approximately once a week, and less frequently in winter. Checking the soil regularly is essential to ensure you water your Pothos at the right time. If the soil has become compacted due to prolonged underwatering, you can place the pot in a sink or bucket of water for 15-30 minutes to allow the soil to soak up moisture from the bottom.

To avoid underwatering, establish a stricter checking routine. Keep your Pothos in a visible area and set reminders to test the soil every couple of days. You can also use a moisture meter to determine when it’s time to water again.

Root Rot: A Serious Issue

Root rot is often associated with overwatering, but it’s actually caused by a fungus that resides in the soil. If you reuse soil containing this fungus or use dirty tools, your Pothos can develop root rot, which can cause brown stems.

Brown stems due to root rot usually start at the base near the soil and gradually spread upward. To address this problem, you’ll need to repot your Pothos immediately. Remove the plant from its pot, wash away all the soil, and trim off any damaged stems and affected roots. Repot the plant in fresh soil and preferably a new pot, or thoroughly clean the old pot before replanting.

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Diseases: A Rare Occurrence

While houseplants are generally resistant to diseases, Pothos plants can occasionally fall victim to blight. Browning stems can be a sign of blight, a bacterial or fungal disease that can cause significant damage. Pruning affected leaves and stems is the best defense against minor problems. However, if most of the plant has turned brown, it is likely too late to save it.

To prevent diseases, provide your plants with the right care and conditions. This will strengthen their natural defenses, protecting them from potential threats.

Pests: A Common Nuisance

Pests are more common than diseases when it comes to houseplants. Aphids, spider mites, and scale insects are known to feed on Pothos stems, causing them to turn brown.

Identifying pests is generally easier than identifying diseases. If you spot bugs on your Pothos stems, there are several remedies to try. For small infestations, manually remove the bugs and dispose of them. Larger infestations may require insecticidal soap or horticultural oil to eliminate the pests.

Consistency is key to fully remove all the bugs, so be diligent in your efforts to restore your Pothos to good health.

Cold Exposure: Protect Your Plant

Pothos plants are tropical houseplants and thrive in warm temperatures and high humidity. They cannot tolerate cold weather, and exposure to temperatures below 50°F can lead to brown stems. Even cold winds or air conditioners can cause damage if the plant is exposed for extended periods.

If you accidentally expose your Pothos to cold temperatures, move it to a warmer area and allow it to slowly recover. Severe damage may be irreversible.

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Prevention is the best defense against cold exposure. Never leave your Pothos in temperatures below 50°F, preferably maintaining a minimum temperature of 60°F.

Overfertilization: Less Is More

Pothos plants typically don’t require much fertilizer, especially when they are frequently repotted. When applying fertilizer, it’s essential to follow the recommended dosage. Overfertilization can result in a build-up of salts in the soil, leading to brown stems.

To correct the issue, flush the soil with filtered water to remove the salts. Avoid fertilizing for several months and read the instructions carefully when resuming fertilization.

Remember, Pothos plants are low-maintenance and can recover from most issues with proper care and attention. By identifying the cause of the brown stems and taking the appropriate steps, you can restore your Pothos to its vibrant and healthy state.

For more information and to explore a wide range of houseplants and gardening supplies, visit the Ames Farm Center.