When it comes to low-maintenance plants, nothing can beat the pothos. They’re super easy to take care of, especially since they only need to be watered once every week or two and pruned every few months.
That said, pothos plants can do some pretty weird stuff, like “sweat” various times a day. But why? And is it something you should be concerned about?
In a nutshell, pothos drips water because of a process called guttation. Guttation is sort of like the plant version of human perspiration and works in just about the same fashion, where the plant would secrete excess liquid from its leaves to its pores.
In this article, I’ll discuss everything you need to know about pothos dripping water, including causes, solutions, and potential dangers.
Let’s dive right in!
Pothos plants drip water because of a process known as guttation, in which droplets of water are released from the plant’s pores. It occurs in almost every vascular plant, but it happens more noticeably with pothos plants because of their big leaves.
Guttation, also known as “plant sweating,” occurs when plants push out extra liquid, sap, and nutrients from their pores. It usually occurs at night or in the morning when water absorption exceeds that of transpiration.
Pothos plants guttate because of several factors:
1 – High Humidity
High humidity is often the culprit of guttation in pothos plants.
Pothos plants enjoy moisture and humidity, but only to a certain extent. When humidity levels drop or change suddenly, pothos plants guttate to get rid of excess water vapor to balance out the liquid in their system.
Guttation prevents plants from rotting due to high humidity, but it can only ever do so much. If you notice your pothos plants sweating on warm, humid days, you might want to move them to a cooler location so they don’t fall ill and get infected by moisture-loving parasites.
Plants guttate when they’re given too much water than they know what to do with. To save the roots from rotting, pothos would absorb excess liquid from the soil and expel it from its pores.
So if you notice your pothos sweating on a daily basis, you might want to rethink your watering regimen.
Pothos plants should be watered once every week or two, after their soil has completely died out. You don’t need to follow a strict watering schedule; simply check the soil for dryness and water them as needed. About a cup of water is more than enough.
Guttation can only be harmful if you’re over-fertilizing your pothos, as excess minerals from the fertilizer can burn the tips of the plants. If you notice small, white deposits on the tip of your pothos plants, you might want to reduce the amount of fertilizer you’re using.
Just as high humidity causes pothos plants to guttate, high temperatures can cause a plant to transpirate.
Like humans, plants “sweat” to cool themselves and the air surrounding them during warm weather. They do this by pushing water out of their stomata. But by doing so, they’re putting them at risk of dehydration.
If you notice your pothos drooping a little, this means that they need to be placed somewhere cooler.
Guttation can occur when a plant is repotted or transplanted due to stress or stock. It typically occurs if some of the plant’s basic needs aren’t met during the repotting process, or if it’s moved to a place with vastly different temperature, humidity, or light.
To tackle this problem, you’ll need to make sure the pothos is getting enough sunlight and water. If you’ve transplanted your pothos in a larger pot, reduce the frequency of watering.
Is Guttation Bad for Pothos Plants?
Plants occasionally guttate when conditions trigger it. It’s a perfectly normal process that almost all vascular plants experience.
It isn’t a disease or an illness. On the contrary, it’s a sign that a plant is functioning as it should.
That said, there are some cases where guttation isn’t good for a plant.
Plants that guttate too often can be a sign that something isn’t quite right with their biology or care.
And when water constantly flows in and out of the plant, there’s a high chance that germs are transported in and out, too. This can cause the plant to fall ill and spread disease.
For this reason, pothos owners should pay close attention to the frequency of the plant’s guttation. If it lasts for more than a couple of days, you might need to adjust its care.
Though you can never really prevent pothos plants (or any other plant, for that matter) to guttate, you can reduce its frequency. Here’s how:
Pothos plants don’t need that much water to survive. It’s what makes them so easy to take care of. They only need to be watered once a week in warmer months and twice a week in colder months.
Indoor pothos plants can self-hydrate by converting humidity to liquid. As such, it’s a good idea to cut down on the watering as it might be causing your pothos to sweat more often.
Water the plant after its soil is dry to the touch when you insert your finger two inches into the soil. If it’s still wet or slightly moist, leave it alone for another few days.
- Soggy soil
- Yellowing or brown leaves
- Soft, limp leaves
- Mushy appearance
- Water blisters or edema (crystal-like growth on the undersides of leaves)
- Curling leaves
- Brown spots
Pothos would sometimes “push out” the minerals of hard tap water from their system because they don’t provide any benefit to the plant. You can prevent this by watering your pothos with soft water or rainwater instead of mineral-laden tap water or well water.
Reducing the amount of fertilizer you’re adding to your pothos plants can lessen guttation.
Fertilize your plant once every two to four weeks with a balanced 10-10-10 or 20-20-20 during their growing season.
Outside the growing season, you only need to fertilize them once every four to six weeks.
Here are some signs and symptoms that indicate you’re over-fertilizing your pothos:
- Wilting leaves
- Dried or burnt leaf margins
- Stunted growth or very slow growth
- Sudden death of seedlings
- Yellowing or browning leaves
- Browned or blackened limp roots
- Defoliation (dropping leaves)
- Fertilizer crust on the soil surface
Pothos dripping water isn’t usually a sign of health issues. In fact, it’s an indication that your pothos plant is healthy and doing what it’s biologically meant to do!
It’s a different matter if your pothos plant is sweating more than a few times a week, as it could not only dehydrate the plant but also invite bacteria into its pores.
To reduce guttation in a pothos plant, cut down on the watering. Only water the plant if its soil is dry to the touch, usually after one to two weeks. You might also want to reduce the amount and frequency of fertilizer you’re giving the plant.
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.