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Overwatered Pothos (Causes, Signs & Solutions)

Usually, it’s underwatering that causes the plants to wither. Ironically, feeding your precious pothos too much water can lead to death, and dealing with an overwatered pothos is no easy feat.

Overwatering can cause serious damage to your pothos plant. The plant may only need you to hold back on watering it to recover, but if there’s extensive damage, you’ll need to do more than that. Keep on reading this article to find out the signs of overwatered pothos and how to save the plant.

Common Causes of Overwatered Pothos

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Understanding the factors that contribute to overwatering can help you prevent this issue in the future. Here are some common causes to consider:

1.Poor Soil Drainage: Soil that retains excessive moisture without proper drainage can lead to overwatering. To improve drainage, you can add compost or amendments like coco peat or vermiculite to the soil. These materials help create air pockets and enhance water movement within the soil.

2. Improper Pot Selection: Choosing a pot without drainage holes or using a pot that is too large can contribute to waterlogging and overwatering. Opt for pots with adequate drainage and appropriate size to allow excess water to escape, preventing the roots from sitting in stagnant water.

3. Excessive Watering Frequency: Overwatering often occurs when the frequency of watering is too high. It’s important to develop a watering schedule that takes into account the specific needs of your pothos and the moisture level of the soil. Allow the soil to dry out slightly between waterings to prevent overwatering.

By addressing these common causes of overwatered pothos, you can create a healthier environment for your plant and avoid future complications.

Signs Of Overwatered Pothos

Regular monitoring will help you act fast if your pothos is showing signs of being overwatered. Here are some symptoms you need to look out for.

1. Root Rot

Watering your pothos too much can cause the plant to suffer from root rot. Typically, healthy pothos roots are white and strong. But if a root is rotting, it will be mushy, dark, and smelly. 

Furthermore, excess moisture can cause fungus and mold to thrive on the pothos. Water your plant moderately when necessary to prevent this problem. 

2. Slow Growth

One of the signs of excess moisture in pothos is slow or stunted growth. When there’s too much water in the soil, the pothos root will likely become waterlogged. 

As a result, there won’t be a free flow of oxygen and nutrients to the plant. Over time, the pothos leaves will begin to wilt or droop, and the plant’s growth will become stunted. 

3. Leaf Discoloration

Many factors can cause pothos leaves to turn yellow or brown; overwatering is one of the major reasons. At first, only the edges of the pothos leaves will turn yellow. But as time goes on, the discoloration will spread to other parts of the leaves. 

If you don’t control the overwatering issue, the pothos leaves will turn brown or black, soft and mushy. In serious cases, the leaves will begin to rot and have a slimy texture.

How to Save Overwatered Pothos?

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Saving overwatered pothos varies according to the severity of the damage. If caught early, there are higher chances your plants will survive. You’ll need to drain the retained water from the soil and slow down on watering your plants until the soil is no longer soggy.

However, if the pothos shows severe root rot symptoms, like mushy, decaying roots, it’ll require more effort. To save rotting pothos, you’ll need to cut off any infected roots and stems, then replant the pothos and grow it in optimal conditions to ensure they continue to grow healthy.

Let’s dig deeper into how to save overwatered pothos with these four steps:

1. Identify the Core Problem

Several reasons lead to overwatered pothos, like poor soil drainage, improper pot, or excessive watering.

You’ll need to find the exact cause of stagnant water in the soil so you’re able to tackle it. Since that’s easier said than done, here are a few ways to help you identify and solve the core problem:

Check the Soil’s Drainage

You can rely on the “feel and appearance method” or use soil moisture sensors to measure whether the soil holds on to water or has good drainage.

Soil moisture sensors don’t need much description. All you need to do is stick the probes into the soil and read the results. If you don’t have a soil moisture meter, no worries; you can try the “feel method.” Here’s how: 

  • Stick your finger into the soil or take different soil samples from varying depths.
  • The outer layer will usually feel dry, but the inner layer should be moist. 
  • If you squeeze the soil and muddy water runs through your fingers, that means the soil retains water.  
  • You can also dig a hole in the pot and pour water. If the water sits on top and doesn’t drop over time, your soil has poor drainage.
  • To improve soil drainage, try adding compost and amendments like coco peat or vermiculite to the soil.

Choose the Correct Pot 

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Even if the soil has good drainage, your pothos’ pot can lead to over-watering problems. Make sure to choose a pot with drainage holes and empty the pot’s saucer regularly. 

You should also transfer your pothos to larger pots when they grow—around 2 inches larger—to prevent the roots from blocking drainage holes.

Avoid Over-Watering

Generally, you should water pothos once every 1-2 weeks and record each time you water the plants. Use the “feel method” to know whether the soil has enough moisture or not.

If you forget to water your pothos for a while, don’t drown them with water, that’ll only harm your plants. Just feed water until the soil is saturated.

2. Dry Out the Soil

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Cutting water from overwatered pothos until the soil dries out seems like the wise choice. However, leaving the pothos in soggy soil can facilitate root rot. 

Here’s how to dry out the soil fast:

  • Tap the sides of the pot gently and remove the pothos from the pot.
  • Next, inspect the roots for visible rot or foul odor. If you see mild root rot, you can save the plant by cutting away any brown, mushy roots until you only have white, firm roots.
  • Wrap paper towels or newspaper around the root ball of the pothos to absorb excess moisture. 
  • Use duct tape to keep the paper in place and make sure it touches the entire root ball to prevent too much air from reaching the roots, eventually harming it.
  • In a large bucket, place more paper towels at the bottom and transfer the pothos to the bucket. Use enough paper to hold the plant straight. 
  • Leave the bucket overnight to allow the soil to dry out completely.

3. Re-pot the Pothos

Before re-potting your pothos, check for more root rot—as the soil becomes drier, the root rot will become more visible. 

However, if your pothos is root-rot-free, all you need to do is put them back in their original pot and add soil to fill any spaces.

Here’s how to re-pot pothos plants:

  • Gently remove old soil around the root, so you can inspect it better and prevent contaminating the new soil with harmful organisms.
  • Trim away damaged roots, dead stems, and leaves—if you got rid of too many from the root system, balance it out by snipping off some of the stems and leaves.
  • Give your freshly trimmed pothos a good rinse and prepare the pot for planting.
  • Use a pot with draining holes and fill its half with store-bought lightweight potting mix, or you can make your soil mix.
  • Re-pot the pothos, add more soil, and pat down to secure the plants in place.

4. Maintain Optimal Growth Conditions

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After re-potting your pothos, you should water it slowly until it recovers before going back to the regular watering schedule. 

Here are a few tips to help you maintain healthy pothos:

  • Always check if your plants need water, even if you follow a watering schedule. Your pothos water needs will vary depending on the weather, so keep the watering schedule flexible. 
  • You can also spray your pothos with chamomile tea once a week to help prevent infections. Just make sure the brewed tea is cold before using it.
  • Grow the pothos at a temperature range between 70-90ºF and maintain a humidity of 50-70%.
  • Expose the pothos to indirect sunlight for around 12 hours a day.
  • Cut down on watering and fertilizing your pothos in the winter—since pothos goes dormant in the winter.

More about pothos:

Preventive Measures to Avoid Overwatering

Taking proactive steps to prevent overwatering is crucial for maintaining the health of your pothos. Here are some preventive measures to implement:

Check Soil Moisture: Before watering your pothos, assess the soil moisture level by using the “feel method” or a soil moisture meter. Insert your finger into the soil or take soil samples from different depths to determine if watering is necessary. This practice helps you avoid adding water when the soil is still moist.

Ensure Proper Drainage: Adequate drainage is essential to prevent water from accumulating around the roots. Select pots with drainage holes and use well-draining soil. Additionally, remember to empty the saucer or tray underneath the pot regularly to avoid waterlogging.

Adjust Watering Frequency: Establish a watering schedule based on the specific needs of your pothos and environmental conditions. Factors such as temperature, humidity, and seasonality play a role in determining the appropriate watering frequency. Monitor your plant closely and adjust the watering routine accordingly.

By implementing these preventive measures, you can create a balanced watering routine and provide optimal conditions for your pothos to thrive.

Rejuvenating Overwatered Pothos: Additional Steps for Recovery

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If your pothos has experienced severe damage due to overwatering, additional steps may be required to help it recover. Follow these guidelines:

Prune Affected Parts: Trim away any rotting or decaying roots, stems, and leaves using clean and sterile tools. Removing damaged plant material promotes new growth and prevents the spread of diseases. Ensure that you maintain a healthy balance between the root system and the aerial parts of the plant.

Provide Adequate Air Circulation: Improving air circulation around the plant aids in drying out the soil and preventing future moisture-related issues. Consider placing a fan near the plant or adjusting its positioning to enhance airflow. This helps the soil dry out more efficiently and reduces the risk of overwatering.

Adjust Environmental Conditions: Create an environment that promotes recovery by providing the right amount of light, temperature, and humidity. Place your pothos in an area with indirect sunlight for about 12 hours a day.

Maintain a temperature range of 70-90ºF, and ensure the humidity levels stay between 50-70%. These conditions support the plant’s growth and prevent stress during the recovery process.

By following these additional steps, you can give your pothos the best chance of recovering from overwatering and regaining its vitality.

By addressing these missing areas in your article, you can provide readers with a comprehensive guide on the signs, solutions, and preventive measures for dealing with overwatered pothos plants. Remember to always monitor your pothos closely and adjust your care routine accordingly to ensure its overall health and vitality.


Overwatered pothos can be a nuisance, but it’s still curable. The key to reviving overwatered plants is to detect the symptoms early and act fast.

Cutting off infected roots, re-potting the pothos in a lightweight potting mix, growing them in optimal conditions, and preventing the same caring mistakes from happening again are essential to bringing overwatered pothos back to life.

Frequently Asked Questions

How Do You Tell If the Pothos Is Overwatered? 

Depending on the extent of root damage, overwatered pothos can show the following signs:

– Wilting
– Yellow and brown leaf discoloration
– Root rot 
– Mushy appearance
– Foul soil odor
– Stem root
– Leaf curling
– Powdery mold infection

Can Overwatered Pothos Be Recovered?

Yes, you can recover overwatered pothos if they don’t develop severe root rot. Discovering early signs, like slightly droopy leaves or yellowing, is key to saving your plant. 

You may only need to drain excess soil water by poking the pot drainage holes. However, if the pothos has been sitting in stagnant water for a while, you’ll probably need to trim off dead tissues and re-pot them in new soil.

How Long Does It Take for an Overwatered Plant to Recover?

Overwatered plants can take between a week or two to grow back normally. The recovery period will depend on the roots’ state. Just make sure not to overwater your plants, especially during recovery, as that may lead to fatal consequences.

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