Unless they’re aquatic, overwatering is always harmful to plants. That includes Pothos, known by its botanical name Epipremnum aureum, or if you prefer the moniker, Devil’s Ivy.
Although this ornamental tropical vine doesn’t need much upkeep and attention to survive (hence the nickname), too much water could stress it and damage the roots.
If you have overwatered Pothos, one of the prudent moves is to ventilate the dirt. Sometimes that’s all that’s needed to release the trapped moisture.
Like other plants, Pothos have an outward appearance that will tell you signs if its roots are drenched in water like it already has trench-foot.
This article will give tips on what to look for in your beloved carbon dioxide-breathing buddy to know if it’s had too much water and what to do to rescue it. So read on ahead.
When the amount of water the plant receives exceeds more than what it consumes, the rest of the liquid becomes stagnant in the soil.
This scenario is most likely to happen when the soil is compact and not well-draining.
The overabundance of water stops the roots from absorbing oxygen as the air pockets in the soil are blocked. The absence of oxygen creates a soft brownish appearance on the leaves.
Meanwhile, over a prolonged period of time, when the oxygen-deprived roots are left unchecked, they die and eventually rot. But that’s something no Pothos-loving anthophile would want to happen.
What does an overwatered Pothos look like? Here are the tell-tale signs to watch for:
As stated, oxygen deprivation due to excess water in the soil causes brown spots on the leaves.
As the roots struggle to deliver the much-needed O2, they instead sip more water which causes the cells in the leaves to protrude. Over time, these cells burst and create brown lesions.
Wet surroundings provide a suitable environment for fungi to propagate.
If you see what seems to be white webby-powders on the soil, this is probably mold. They thrive and grow faster when the soil is always wet.
Their presence is another indication of overwatering on plants.
Pothos will look wrinkled when there’s too much water down where their roots are sitting. The areas with brown spots would also feel pulpy when you touch them.
The plants’ roots are their primary means of absorbing oxygen. As the roots are drowned by overwatering, they suffer oxygen starvation and become frail.
The stagnant water causes the soil to become soggy and exposes the feeble roots to fungal infections.
As their time in this dormant state is prolonged, spores emerge and invade the roots causing them to rot.
Another indication that tells you the roots are rotting is when there’s a foul smell.
The rotten dead roots can no longer carry the necessary nutrients for the plant. Insufficiency of sustenance ensues necrosis—the rapid death of the cell systems.
Older leaves closer to the bottom are the first to show the manifestations through the changes of their color turning yellow.
Pothos can wither because of too little water. Luckily, fixing the issue is easy. All you have to do is provide the necessary water amount.
However, when Pothos wilts because of too much watering, it is a sign that the roots are damaged and that they can no longer provide nutrients to the plant.
If left untreated at this stage, your Pothos will most likely die.
Here are the steps you need to take to intervene and save your plant:
Assessing the health of your Pothos is the first and most significant action you can take. The effectiveness of your measures depends on your evaluation of the problem.
Find out the amount of excess water in the planter/pot and see if it’s stagnant or saturated. In most cases of dormant water, the primary cause of clogging is usually insufficient drainage.
If there’s stagnant water on the surface, tilt the planter and slowly empty the liquid. As you do, inspect the drainage holes at the bottom of the pot to see if there’s any problem with them.
If the pot has drainage holes yet they’re not letting out the water, check the soil. Compacted soil is usually the cause of the blockage.
To avoid water clogging in the future because of hardened soil, use a sharp stick or any similar object to prod the holes. If the planter has no drainage holes, then it’s time to make some yourself.
Punching holes is only possible if the pot’s material is plastic or vinyl. If it’s breakable, replanting the Pothos with a new planter with holes at the bottom is the logical step.
Exposing the planter to sunlight for several days or weeks will allow the soil to dry. Don’t water the plant at this stage, or it’ll defeat the purpose of reviving it.
The goal is to dry the soggy soil to create air pockets for the roots.
Cultivating the soil not only helps with the drying phase but also facilitates the aeration of the roots.
Turning over the soil also improves the layout, providing more space for oxygen as the air circulates in the process of digging.
Inspect your beloved Pothos and identify the healthy leaves from the ones that turned yellow or have brown spots.
Scissor out the leaves that show poor health, as they will only take up and consume nutrients away from the healthy ones.
Damaged leaves only delay the recovery of the plant. Needless to say, they will eventually die.
In a worst-case scenario, replanting your Pothos is the only way to save it. Extract the plant from its pot by slowly pulling and gently tapping the planter to keep the roots and the soil together.
Relocating your plant to a new container is the best remedy against fungal and bacterial infections caused by overwatering.
Giving your Pothos a fresh pot makes it easier to scour the roots of pathogens and cure them.
Make sure that the roots are healthy and aren’t breaking easily. Check for black and brown colored extremities and trim them off.
Use a larger planter (with enough holes under it) than the previous one. You can also put a little gravel at the bottom of the pot to help the soil dry out faster.
As your precious Pothos settles in its new container with cultivated soil and proper drainage holes, it’s time to set a post-replanting routine to ensure your plant’s well-being.
The following are an example of plant-care habits to guarantee healthy Pothos:
Before watering your plant, check the moisture level of the soil. Water your Pothos only when the dirt feels completely dry halfway down from the top.
Depending on their size, your newly replanted Photos will require varying quantities of water. So start by incorporating a small amount that will adequately supply the roots.
After watering, you should slightly reduce the frequency of watering your plant to give it a chance to heal.
Daytime watering allows the excess water to evaporate compared to the cooler temperatures of nighttime. This is especially helpful for a healing pothos plant.
Aside from the quantity, the quality of water you give your Pothos is as vital. Water that’s high in salt can harm the plant’s roots. If doable, only use filtered water.
There are usually no nutrients in ordinary potting soil. So supplement your Pothos with fertilizers at least once or twice a month to augment their nourishment.
Pothos thrive both indoors and outdoors. But when placed inside the house, the plant prefers well-lit areas with indirect sources of sunlight.
When the color of the leaves becomes all-green, you might need to expose them sufficiently to light for their varicolored patterns to return.
The most favorable temperatures for Pothos are from 65–75 °F in a highly humid area. Grouping your plants also increase humidity.
Sometimes your plant gets infected with insects like mealybugs or mining flies. You can use insecticidal solutions to rid them of pests by spraying the top and underparts of the leaves.
Swabbing them with cotton damped in alcohol is also an effective treatment.
Don’t let dead and withered leaves stay with the healthy ones. So make sure you remove them when you see some.
In the long run, your plant will extend its vines to lengths you probably might not desire. So once in a while, you have to trim them down.
Pruning is also healthy for Pothos to promote growth and keep them shaggy. This is doable at any time of the year. However, it’s not exactly recommended in winter as the growth rate slows down.
Excess watering is always harmful to plants, without an exemption for Pothos. It’s always best to have a good routine for checking the wellness of our leafy friends.
One of the ways we can look out for them is by being mindful of their appearance, which will tell us if they’re overwatered.
Furthermore, it pays to know the proper care and the necessary steps to rescue them should we find they’re already unhealthy.
May your Pothos have a long and leafy life.
Growing up with a mom who filled her home (inside and out) with all sorts of plants, Lisa got her start in gardening at a young age. Living now on her own with a home and yard full of plants (including an indoor greenhouse), she shares all the gardening tips she’s gained over the years.