Whether you’re new to houseplants or have an experienced green thumb, no one is immune to their pothos plant becoming droopy and wilted.
There are several reasons why a pothos plant becomes wilted. These can be as simple as a watering issue to the more challenging pest infestation.
No matter what the cause, there is usually a fix for the issue.
Read on to learn more about the many causes of a droopy pothos and how to fix the problem, no matter what it is.
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Why is my pothos drooping?
Having a droopy pothos can be very disappointing, especially when many consider it an easy plant to care for. So how do you perk your pothos back up?
The first step in helping your plant recover from it’s droopiness is figuring out the problem.
Watering issues tend to be one of the most common reasons for a droopy plant. Whenever I have a droopy pothos the first thing I do is check if the soil is too wet or dry.
Many times, adjusting my watering schedule is enough to get my pothos happy again. Unfortunately, there are two possibilities of what the watering issue can be.
Not watering often enough
The first watering issue is your pothos is too dry. Dry soil can cause a droopy and wilted pothos because the pothos plant isn’t getting enough water to meet its needs.
You want the soil to dry out some between waterings, but you don’t want it to become completely dry.
Watering too often
The second possibility is that you are watering your pothos too often. Too much water can cause root rot and other issues with your plant, causing it to become wilted and droopy.
If the soil is consistently wet or soggy, then this could be the issue.
Another possibility is that your pothos plant has poor drainage. This can cause the pothos to remain wet too long after a watering even if you are not overwatering the plant.
Poor drainage can come from not having a drainage hole in the pot your plant is in or from the soil retaining moisture too long.
Some potting soil is marketed as “moisture retaining soil” and this soil can hold water too long for some plants.
Every time I’ve used moisture retaining soil for my houseplants I’ve had issues. It could be that I water my plants too often, but I don’t have the issue with regular potting soil.
Not enough humidity
Pothos plants are native to tropical places with a relatively humid environment. They prefer indoor humidity levels around 50 to 70%. It’s possible that having lower humidity can cause your plant to become droopy, but in my experience, it hasn’t.
It could be that I water often enough to offset the low humidity. It could also be that many of my plants are grouped together, so the humidity in that area may be higher than the rest of my house.
My humidity levels regularly drop to 30 to 35% in the winter, and even my pothos plants that are by themselves don’t get droopy.
This isn’t to say that humidity can’t cause droopy leaves, especially if you drop lower than 30%. It just isn’t a top thing I worry about. Especially if you are watering your plant enough.
Lighting can also cause a pothos plant to become droopy. And like watering issues, it can be from either too much or not enough light.
Too much direct sunlight
If your pothos is sitting in direct sunlight for too long it will start to get droopy leaves.
If it stays in the sun after the leaves begin to wilt they can get burned, causing permanent browning and crisping of the leaves.
Too little light
Not enough light can also cause a pothos to become droopy.
Pothos plants need bright, indirect sunlight in order to stay healthy and happy. If your plant isn’t getting enough light it will start to droop and the leaves may yellow or fall off as well.
Another sign that your pothos isn’t getting enough light, and the issue I have more often with a lack of light, is stretching. The spacing between the leaves gets bigger because the plant is stretching to find the light.
Pothos are tropical plants and while they can tolerate cool temperatures for a while, I have some that regularly get down to 60 to 65°F, they can’t tolerate cold temperatures.
The main cause of cold damage is from having it too close to a window, especially a poorly insulated window, in the winter. Or when purchasing it and bringing it home in the winter.
Cold damage, just like sunburn, is permanent. The leaves will get droopy and turn color. And overall just look bad.
The only treatment for cold-damaged leaves is to remove them.
It’s root bound
Pothos plants can tolerate, and may even prefer, being crowded. But once they become root bound it can cause issues like leaf drooping.
Root bound means that the roots have become so crowded in the pot that they can’t expand to absorb enough water and nutrients.
If it’s been a while, like over a year, since you last repotted your pothos, it’s possible it’s root bound. Other signs of being root bound are stunted growth (growth that slows or stops) and roots coming out the bottom of the pot or drainage holes.
It has pests
Pests like spider mites, mealybugs, and aphids are another common problem that can cause pothos plant to become droopy.
These pests feed on the leaves, causing them to wilt and even die off in a matter of days or weeks if left unchecked.
To know if it’s pests, look over your plant carefully. You are looking for any signs of pests like stuff that looks like a spider web, sticky residue on leaves, or actual bugs.
For more information about the different pests that can be affecting your pothos, including other signs to look for, check out this post on common houseplant pests.
Root rot is another cause of a droopy pothos. Root rot can be caused by overwatering, but it can also be caused by poor drainage or an overly pot bound plant.
It’s important to check your roots if you suspect root rot is the cause of your droopiness. Healthy roots should be white and firm while a root that is rotted will be brown or black and soft or mushy.
If you do find roots that are rotted, take action immediately by removing all the rotted roots and repotting it in fresh soil with good drainage.
Another cause of a droopy pothos is being recently repotted.
Repotting can cause a bit of transplant shock to the plant, which you might see in the form of drooping leaves. If it’s been repotted recently, give it about a week before deciding if something else is wrong with your plant or not.
Many of my pothos plants get droopy right after a repot, but most perk up within a day or so.
The ones that take the longest, sometimes a week or longer, to perk back up are the root bound ones and the ones being put into the dirt for the first time after water propagating them.
Too much fertilizer
Giving your pothos too much fertilizer can also cause droopy leaves.
If you have recently applied fertilizer to your pothos, it’s possible that the leaves are drooping due to over-fertilization.
This is especially the case if you use a potting soil like Miracle Grow that comes with fertilizer already mixed in the soil. The bag says it lasts 6 months, so if you recently repotted your plant, it won’t need fertilizer for at least that long and possibly longer.
How do you perk up pothos?
Once you have decided what the likely cause of your droopy pothos is, getting it to perk up is as simple as treating the issue.
Unfortunately, depending on the cause, this can be a challenge. Though with work, most cases should be able to be treated within a few weeks.
Water more frequently
If you have determined that your pothos leaves are droopy due to underwatering, the best way to fix it is to water more often. The difficult part is to do this without watering too often.
Start by looking at how often you water. Is it on a regular basis like weekly or every other week? Or is it random?
If you water on a regular schedule, like every two weeks, start checking if your pothos needs water halfway between the two waterings, like every week. If the soil is really dry, water it and check sooner the next time.
You are trying to find the time period where only the top inch of soil has dried out. This is your optimal watering period.
For my pothos, weekly watering is usually the right length. Though some go two weeks. It all depends on how heavily I watered the previous week and how humid my house was all week.
Soak your pothos in the sink
If your pothos is extremely dry, you may want to give it a good soak in a sink full of water and then try to figure out your proper watering schedule.
To do a sink soak, plug the drain and fill the sink with water. You want the water as high on the outside of the pot as possible. But stop before the plant starts to float.
Let the plant sit for 10 to 15 minutes and then drain the sink. Pour off any residual water in the base of the pot. You may need to do this a few times the first few hours after soaking.
If your house is dry and you are having trouble keeping your pothos looking healthy, you may want to increase the humidity around it.
This can be done with a room humidifier, misting it once or twice daily, or even setting up a pebble tray underneath the pot.
A pebble tray is simply a shallow tray filled with small stones and water that is set beneath the pot so the evaporation of the water increases humidity around the plant.
Move your plant to a new location
If your pothos is having lighting issues or is too close to a cold window, move it to a different location.
Pothos like bright, indirect light for optimal growth. Try moving it to a spot that gets a lot of light without being in direct sunlight.
If it’s too close to a cold window, move it farther from the window.
Before we replaced our windows I couldn’t have any plants closer than a foot or two from the windows. Especially on the north and west sides of the house (that’s the direction we get a lot of wind from in the winter).
Now I have better windows (Yay for warmer rooms!) and can have my plants closer, though I still keep them at least 6 inches from the windows. My windows are better than they were, but they aren’t perfect.
Prune or trim your pothos plant
If you notice your pothos is getting too leggy or has too many leaves for the container it’s in, prune or trim it back.
This will help keep the plant looking full and healthy, as well as not stressing out its roots with having to support too much foliage.
You can do this by simply snipping off the excess foliage with pruning shears.
This is also the only option for cold-damaged leaves as they will not perk back up.
Repot your pothos plant
If it’s been a while since you potted your pothos, repotting can help it. This is especially true if it has become root bound.
Repotting is also a good idea if you have soil that holds water too long causing your plant to be too wet for too long.
If the pothos is root bound you will want a bigger pot. You don’t need a new pot if you are just changing out the soil.
Either way, you want to try to remove as much of the old soil without damaging the roots. Then plant it in it’s pot with new well-draining soil.
Water your pothos less frequently
If you think the problem is that your pothos is getting too much water, try watering less often. Start by waiting an extra day or two from when you would normally water your pothos. Then, check the soil first. Is it still wet? If it is, wait another few days.
Continue to check the soil until the top inch is dry. Then water it.
If you find that it’s been more than a couple of weeks and the soil is still wet, you may want to consider changing the soil. And also, give your plant less water when you water it. It only needs enough to get the soil damp, not so much that it gets soggy.
And always pour off any excess water that collects in the tray below the plant. It’s okay to let it sit for a few minutes, but definitely dump the excess water that same day.
Treat your plant to remove pests
Be sure to follow the directions on any product you use and make sure it’s specifically labeled for the type of pest you have. It may take several treatments to get rid of the pests completely.
You can also try to manually remove them if you can, though it’s not always possible. Manual removal works best for small cases of mealybugs, aphids, and soft brown scales. It doesn’t work for spider mites (they’re just too small).
If you think you are over fertilizing your plant, try cutting back on fertilizer. Pothos don’t need much fertilizer, especially when they are in lower light settings.
You can also try to flush out the pot with lots of water and letting the pot drain. Then cut back on fertilizer going forward. Just be sure to let the pot drain well so you don’t end up with your plant staying wet too long.
I personally don’t regularly fertilize my plants with commercial fertilizer, mainly because I just can’t keep track of when I last fertilized them. I do, however, occasionally water with fish tank water when we do a water change on the fish tank.
Protect from the cold
If you live in a cooler climate, make sure to protect your pothos from drafts or extreme temperatures. A sudden drop in temperature can cause leaves to droop and curl.
You’ll want to move it away from cold windows and doors.
And if you purchase a new pothos in cold weather, protect it the best you can while outside. And limit the length of time it’s in the cold.
I’ve successfully brought plants home in below 0°F temperatures by covering with multiple plastic bags, both from the top and the bottom of the plant. And by putting it in the car first and bringing it inside the house first.
And any cold weather plant purchases should be the last stop before coming home.
How long does it take for a pothos to perk up?
There is no set time frame for how long it takes a pothos to perk up. I’ve had some that perked up within a few hours of getting water. I’ve had others take a month or longer to perk up after a spider mite infestation.
How long it takes depends on what the cause of the drooping is. The causes that have quick treatments will have a quicker rebound than those that take longer.
Unfortunately with droopy pothos, much of how to treat it, and how long it will take to recover, depends on trial and error. It’s all about observation, testing, and adjusting as needed.
But with the right care, and some patience, you can revive your pothos back to its healthy and vibrant self.
With a little bit of love and effort, you’ll have a beautiful plant that will thrive for years to come.