How To Save And Care For An Overwatered Pothos

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Pothos plants are some of the more common houseplants raised for their foliage.

While the genus Pothos (POH-thos) contains around 50 different species, the plant most Americans associate with pothos is actually Epipremnum aureum, which was originally classified as a pothos plant.

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But whether you have Epipremnum aureum or an actual pothos, one thing is certain: Overwatering Pothos is a major threat to your plant’s health and can even kill it.

Here’s everything you need to know about diagnosing and saving your pothos from overwatering.

How To Care For And Save Overwatered Pothos Plant

When watering Pothos it’s important to diagnose any potential overwatering and act quickly.

In many cases, knowing how to diagnose and treat can save your Pothos plant from an untimely death.

Symptoms Of Overwatering

The first step in saving your pothos from overwatering is to know how to diagnose it.

The leaves of an overwatered pothos will turn brown, usually starting at the edges.

While underwatering also involves browning, you can tell the difference:

  • Overwatered leaves will be soft and droopy
  • Underwatered leaves will be crisp and brittle

Swollen brown spots may also appear on the surfaces of pothos leaves and produce blisters where the plant’s cells have taken on too much water.

These will cause lesions when they break.

Older leaves, which are closer to the soil, may begin to yellow as the leaf dies.

Leaves may also begin to wrinkle or curl while the entire plant begins to feel mushy.

Wilting Pothos leaves is a sign of advanced root rot.

Another place to find signs of overwatering is the soil itself.

Overwatered soil will feel wet or soggy and may form little puddles when you press down in extreme cases.

The surface may also become moldy, possibly displaying a white powdery substance, and may also be the cause of a fungus gnat infestation.

Diagnosing The Extent

When you begin to notice these symptoms, the first thing you’ll need to do is get an idea of how extensive the damage is.

When caught early enough, your plant might recover with minimal intervention, but in the worst cases, your plant cannot be saved.

Giving your plant a quick check every time you water it can help diagnose potential problems early on, so be sure to look for signs of overwatering when you’re tending to the plant.

Next, lift the plant, if possible, and ensure the drainage holes aren’t clogged.

Use a stick or similar tool to gently prod the soil looking for excess water.

In the event there are clogs or soggy soil, your first step of treatment should be getting that potting mix dried out.

Treating The Soil

It’s easiest to treat a plant that has just been overwatered once or twice.

In the event, you’ve just watered it, gently tip the pot and drain off any excess.

To let the pothos potting mix dry out, ensure it’s sitting in a spot with bright, indirect sunlight and avoid watering until the soil has dried around 2 to 3” inches down.

As the plant normally gets thirsty when the soil has dried 1” inch deep, this causes the plant to use some of the excess water it’s already been exposed to.

Indoor plants don’t generally have earthworms constantly aerating the soil (unless you put them there), so you may have to do a little manual tilling.

Gently turn the soil, being careful not to damage the roots.

Not only does this loosen the soil for more oxygen to get in, but it can also expose excess water to the air to dry out faster.

Emergency Repotting

In more advanced cases, repotting may be necessary.

Use a new pot of soil and before placing the pothos vines into its new home, examine the root system.

Using sharp, sterile shears, carefully prune away any rotting or diseased roots.

You may also wish to leave the plant laying in a warm, dry place overnight after uprooting it so the roots can dry out a little before being repotted.

Soil Care Tips For An Overwatered Plant

You can reduce the risk of water retention by adding aggregate to your soil.

Outdoors or indoors, before adding new soil to the planting spot, put a layer of coarse sand or gravel to the bottom to create a buffer zone.

You may also wish to add in some perlite or coconut coir, both of which can help ensure the soil doesn’t compact and will retain a small amount of water so your plant’s roots won’t have too much or too little.

Treating The Leaves

Now you should turn your attention to the foliage.

Prune away any severely discolored or yellow leaves, but you may wish to leave a few that have only just begun changing.

These leaves will give you an idea of how well the plant is recovering based on whether the spread of yellow or brown continues.

Tips On Proper Watering

Having a good watering regime is perhaps the best way to prevent overwatering.

Here are a few different methods that will ensure your plant gets just the right amount every time.

Tip 1: Throw Out The Calendar

One of the easiest mistakes to avoid is watering on a set schedule.

Depending on many factors such as light, humidity, and soil density, your pothos may get thirsty sooner or later than your schedule says.

Stick your finger in the soil every few days to test for moisture and only water when it’s dry 1” inch down.

Tip 2: Watering From Above

Never pour water onto a plant, but instead, slowly water the soil at a trickle, working your way around the pot to ensure it’s even.

Stop when the water begins seeping from the bottom of your plant’s pot.

Not only does this give the soil time to properly absorb the water, but it also helps flush out mineral salts and other waste products that can become toxic over time.

Tip 3: Watering From Below

Finally, some people prefer watering from below.

To do this, sit your potted plant in a saucer of water for 30 minutes or so.

The roots and soil will soak up only what they need, and you can then remove the saucer and dump out any remaining water.

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