Underwatered Pothos

Underwatered Pothos (6 Top Signs & Solutions)

Pothos are gorgeous plants that require very little care to thrive, with water being one of their few requirements. Although crucial for their survival, water can also be their downfall.

Underwatering is one of the few problems that may face such plants. So, if you think your pothos might be underwatered, you should take action fast. 

Proper watering is essential for the growth and health of Pothos plants, and it’s crucial to strike a balance between underwatering and overwatering.

In this article, you’ll learn how to tell if you have underwatered pothos and how to revive it back to life. You’ll also find several handy tips to help you avoid falling into this problem.

Importance of Proper Watering for Pothos

Proper watering is crucial for the growth and well-being of Pothos plants. Water serves as a lifeline for these beautiful plants, providing them with essential nutrients and enabling various physiological processes.

It plays a vital role in photosynthesis, allowing Pothos to convert light energy into chemical energy and produce glucose. Water also helps in the transportation of nutrients throughout the plant, ensuring proper cell function and growth.

Maintaining the right balance of water is key, as both underwatering and overwatering can have detrimental effects. Underwatering can lead to dehydration, stunted growth, and wilting of leaves, while overwatering can suffocate the roots and cause root rot.

By understanding the importance of proper watering, you can create a favorable environment for your Pothos to thrive. It is essential to observe the plant’s watering needs, considering factors such as humidity, temperature, pot size, and soil type.

Regularly monitoring the moisture level of the soil and adjusting your watering schedule accordingly will help ensure optimal hydration and promote the health of your Pothos.

Signs of Underwatered Pothos

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Sometimes, you can tell for sure that you’ve underwatered your pothos because you’ve been away or busy. Yet, what’s really baffling is when you do water your plant, and you still end up with a dehydrated plant.

If you’re not sure whether your pothos is underwatered, here are some tell-tale signs to look out for.

1. Droopy, Brown, or Wilted Leaves

The first sign of underwatering is the lifeless look of the leaves and vines. The leaves will appear to be brown and wilted as if about to fall off. They can also look crisp, dry, or wrinkled due to dehydration.

2. The Soil Pulls Away

If you notice the soil has started to pull away from the edges of the container, this is a sign that the soil is lacking in moisture. If you don’t act fast, you might be risking the health of the plant’s roots.

3. The Soil Dries Out Fast

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Is the soil drying out too quickly in-between waterings? This could be another sign it’s not getting enough water.

A common reason for this is that the pot is probably too small to hold enough water for your Pothos. To fix this problem, move the plant to a bigger pot with fresh soil. Another option is to propagate the plant to make smaller, newer plants in a different container.

4. Leaves Turn Yellow

If they don’t get enough water, the leaves of your pothos plant may begin to turn yellow. While many factors can cause leaf discoloration in this plant, lack of moisture is also a factor. Adequate water in the soil ensures the easy passage of nutrients to the plant.

But if the root system does not perform its role, the whole plant will suffer. This is why the pothos leaves turn yellow within a short time. 

5. Stunted Growth 

Being tropical plants, pothos plants need constant watering to prevent slow growth. Not only do these plants require water for photosynthesis, but they also need it for cell expansion.

Furthermore, the movement of nutrients will be difficult or impossible if there’s little or no water in the soil. Sometimes, the roots of the pothos may get affected, causing the plant to die. 

6.  Curly Leaves

Although overwatering can cause your pothos leaves to become curly, underwatering can also cause it. If the plant doesn’t get enough water, its roots will not be able to transport nutrients to the leaves.

As a result, the pothos leaves will begin to lose their rigidity and then become curly. Usually, this problem occurs during the summer months, when the heat is high and plants need regular watering. 

Assessing Watering Needs Based on Plant Size and Environment

To provide optimal care for your Pothos, it’s important to assess its watering needs based on its size and the surrounding environment. Factors such as pot size, root development, temperature, humidity, and air circulation should be considered.

Young Pothos plants with small root systems have lower water requirements compared to more mature plants. As the plant grows, its root system expands, and its water demands increase. Adjust your watering frequency accordingly to avoid underwatering or overwatering.

The size of the pot is also significant. A larger pot provides more soil volume and water-holding capacity, reducing the risk of underwatering. Consider repotting your Pothos into a larger container as it grows to ensure sufficient moisture availability.

Environmental conditions, including temperature and humidity, greatly impact water requirements. Higher temperatures and lower humidity levels can cause faster evaporation, resulting in increased water needs for the plant. During hot and dry periods, closely monitor soil moisture levels and adjust your watering schedule accordingly to prevent underwatering.

Air circulation can also influence water loss through transpiration. If your Pothos is placed in an area with high airflow, such as near fans or air conditioning vents, it may require more frequent watering to compensate for the increased evaporation.

Regularly checking the moisture level of the soil using a moisture meter or by manually assessing the soil’s dryness will help you determine if your Pothos needs watering. Remember to strike a balance and avoid letting the soil become waterlogged or completely dry out.

By carefully assessing the watering needs based on plant size and the surrounding environment, you can ensure that your Pothos receives the appropriate amount of water for optimal growth and health.

Potential Causes of Underwatering

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Several factors can contribute to underwatering in Pothos plants. Understanding these potential causes will help you identify and address the issue promptly.

One common cause is forgetfulness or a busy schedule. It’s easy to overlook watering your plants when life gets hectic. Setting reminders or establishing a regular watering routine can help mitigate this problem.

Another cause can be the use of improper potting mix or containers without proper drainage. If the soil doesn’t drain well, it can lead to waterlogging or uneven distribution of moisture, resulting in underwatering in some areas.

Environmental conditions also play a role. High temperatures, dry air, and increased air circulation can cause the soil to dry out more quickly, leading to underwatering. Additionally, placing your Pothos near heat sources or in direct sunlight can exacerbate water loss.

Furthermore, the size of the pot in relation to the plant’s root system can affect watering. A pot that is too small may not hold enough water to meet the plant’s needs, leading to underwatering.

By considering these potential causes, you can assess your Pothos’ watering practices and make adjustments accordingly to ensure it receives adequate hydration.

How to Revive Underwatered Pothos

Luckily, there are several things you can do to revive your dried-out plant.

1. Thoroughly Water Your Pothos

The first step towards saving underwatered pothos is to submerge it in water. Put the pot under running water or in a bucket of water until you see water coming out of the drainage holes.

Let the extra water drain thoroughly before you put the pot in a shady place where it gets indirect sunlight. You may repeat this step up to three times a day if your plant needs it.

2. Get Rid of Damaged Leaves and Vines

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Your pothos may spend much effort trying to revive its damaged leaves. Therefore, getting rid of them makes it more focused on using its nutrients to promote its health and growth.

Remove dead leaves and vines to encourage the plant to direct its energy toward growing new and healthier leaves.

3. Mist the Leaves

Misting your plant every couple of days promotes water intake. It also makes the leaves look healthy and lush.

All you need to do is fill a spray bottle with water and spray the leaves two or three times a week. Repeat this step until your plant comes back to life with strong, healthy leaves.

4. Fertilize Your Plant

Revived plants usually need extra nutrients. This is where liquid fertilizers can help.

Liquid fertilizers are usually your best option because they’re designed to provide the plant with essential nutrients needed for recovery. For best results, apply when watering. Then, reapply every 2–3 weeks.

5. Change the Pot

After a while, you’ll notice that your pothos is perky and happy, probably even starting to grow new leaves. This is the perfect time to change the soil to encourage growth and strength.

It’s recommended that you water the soil slightly before changing it out to ensure it doesn’t tear up the leaves or disrupt the plant itself. Then, simply loosen the soil around the pothos and gently pull out the plant, wiping away any excess soil around the roots.

Next, fill half the new pot with fresh soil, and place the root in its center. Then, add more soil and press down.

Tips to Avoid Underwatering Pothos

To prevent underwatering and maintain the well-being of your Pothos, there are several proactive measures you can take. Firstly, establish a consistent watering routine based on the specific needs of your plant and its environment. Observe the signs of water stress, such as drooping leaves or dry soil, and adjust your watering frequency accordingly.

Choosing the right potting mix is also crucial. A well-draining soil mix that retains moisture without becoming waterlogged is ideal for Pothos. Adding organic matter or perlite to the soil can improve its water retention capacity.

Incorporating humidity-boosting techniques, such as misting the leaves or placing a tray of water near the plant, can create a more favorable microclimate for Pothos. Grouping plants together can also increase humidity levels through transpiration.

Regularly inspecting the soil moisture level using a moisture meter or simply feeling the soil’s dryness with your finger can help you assess if your Pothos requires watering. It’s essential to strike a balance, allowing the soil to dry slightly between waterings to avoid both underwatering and overwatering.

Here are other tips to avoid repeating the same mistake. 

1. Create a Watering Schedule

The best way to make sure that you remember watering your plant is to set up a schedule. Remember to always let the soil dry between waterings.

Also, remember to change your watering schedule according to the season. For instance, in the spring and summer, plants require a lot more water than in winter.

2. Avoid Direct Sunlight

Pothos naturally grow in canopy forests, typically shaded by tree leaves. In other words, it’s used to dim or partial sunlight.

In fact, direct sunlight can cause the pothos to dry out quickly. Thus, it’s recommended that you put your pothos in a place that gets indirect sunlight.

3. Measure Soil Moisture

There are several ways to measure the moisture level in the soil. The easiest way is to use a soil moisture meter to make sure you’re not overwatering or underwatering your pothos. 

All you need to do is to stick the meter into the soil. Then, water the plant only if the meter reads between one and three.

4. Keep an Eye on Your Pothos

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To avoid underwatering your pothos, keep an eye on the leaves and the soil. First, make sure the leaves look green and fresh. 

If you see any hint of yellow or brown, it’s time to act fast to save your plant and bring it back to its healthy, vibrant self.


Underwatered pothos can show signs of damaged leaves and vines. So, if you spot yellow, crisp leaves and dry soil, your pothos is most probably underwatered. 

Luckily, there are things you can do to bring your underwatered pothos back to life. For example, you can water and mist your plant regularly. You can also use liquid fertilizers to give the plant the nutrients it lost when it was underwatered.

To avoid repeating this mistake, you should stick to a watering schedule, avoid direct sunlight, or use a moisture meter.

Learn more from a related post: Overwatered Pothos

Frequently Asked Questions

How to Care for Pothos?

Pothos can thrive in a humid environment with indirect sunlight with an ideal temperature of 60℉ to 80℉. So, you should install a humidifier in winter when the air gets too dry.

Moreover, you should trim the longer parts to even out the shape of your plant and give it a bushy look. You can also cut the stems to promote further growth.

To give your leaves a clean, fresh look, mist them from time to time and wipe them with a damp piece of cloth every couple of weeks.

How often do you water pothos?

You should water your pothos when you feel it needs watering. The best way to do this is to touch the soil. If the few inches on top feel dry to your touch, it’s time to water your plant.

However, there’s no way to give an exact duration. It depends on your plant size, pot size, soil type, and environmental conditions.

On average, you should water your pothos once a week in spring and summer. On the other hand, in winter or non-growing seasons, it may take up to 10–14 days between waterings.

How to Propagate Pothos?

There are two ways to propagate pothos. You can propagate it by cutting its stem:

– Cut about six inches of the stem
– Submerge the stem you cut in water, and remember to change the water every couple of weeks. The root will start to develop in about two months.
– Put the stem with the root into a new pot. For lush growth, you can plant more than one stem in the same pot.

The second way is by gently dividing the root into multiple sections and putting each in a new pot.

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