Root rot is a deadly fungal disease for soft plants like pothos. You should quickly check the symptoms of root rot and identify the cause in order to save your pothos.

At first root rot only attack the root balls then after a few days the fungal bacteria start moving upwards.

Slowly it spread to all parts of the pothos and your plant dies in less than 9 days.

But the good news is you can easily save your already infected pothos with simple techniques.

You can apply the below-mentioned methods at home and no need to buy anything from the garden store.

Only in the worst conditions, you may need to buy copper-based fungicides to kill the bacteria in seconds.

Keep reading to know how you can save your pothos from root rot.

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How To Identify Pothos root rot?

Yellow Leaves of Pothos

The yellow leaves of pothos tell us about the health of its roots. The first sign of root rot in pothos is leaves turning yellow.

If only the bottom leaves are turning yellow then it is not root rot. Because they are old leaves and naturally turn yellow before falling off.

But if you see leaves on all sides of your plant turning yellow. Then it is definitely suffering from damaged roots.

Actually, once the roots get damaged due to fungus. They become unable to absorb nutrients and water from the potting soil.

Due to this, pothos becomes weak and lack of nutrition and water turn the green leaves into yellow color.

Curling and Wilting Leaves

Curling and wilting leaves mean the root rot is at an advanced stage. In simple words, the roots of your plant are more than 70% damaged.

They are not functional and the supply of water and nutrients is totally blocked.

Now your pothos is out of moisture and to save its life, your plant is reducing the leaf size by curling them.

Because now it is not strong enough to tolerate the daily stress and fight the fungal disease.

At first, you see wilting leaves, then on the next day, you will see some curling leaves. While the rest of them are also in the same way.

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Wet Soil with a Rotten Smell

The next thing you need to check is the condition of the soil. Insert your finger into the soil to check the moisture level.

If the top 1 to 2 inches of potting soil are moist. This clears that your plant has more water in the soil than required.

You are giving excessive water to your plant and overwatered pothos is the cause in this case.

Along with wet soil, you should also smell the base of your plant. If it smells like decaying roots or rotten eggs.

This confirms that the roots below the soil are decaying and you need to fix them immediately. If you do not want to lose your pothos.

Mold on Soil

The early-stage signs of root rot are not visible because the roots are underneath the potting soil. Therefore, to catch the pothos root rot on time.

You need to check for these kinds of signs.

Any kind of mold and algae growth on the top surface of the soil confirms the presence of fungal bacteria in the potting soil.

This also confirms that you are overwatering your plant.

In this case, you must stop watering your plant and unpot it to check the roots properly.

Soft and Mushy Roots

The best method of checking pothos root rot is manually checking the roots. Gently unpot the plant, remove soil from the roots and inspect them.

Healthy pothos roots are white in color without any kind of bad smell.

But root rot turns them black, brown, and mushy. Rotting roots also release a bad smell.

On unpotting, you will also see water sitting at the base of the plant. These are the symptoms of confirmed root rot due to overwatering.

Slow or No growth

Slow or stunted growth indicates that your plant is not well. Smaller new leaves, curling leaves, and yellow leaves are all signs of rotting roots due to extra water.

Once you observe slow growth with these signs. Immediately unpot your plant and check the roots.

You will definitely see lots of water in the root zone with decaying roots.

Do not give fertilizers to your plant because it is growing slowly. First, check the roots and follow the care routine.

Causes of Root Rot in Pothos

Because your pothos is growing in pots. Therefore, they are more suspectable to root diseases. But knowing about the causes of root rot is a great help.

You can prevent root rot if you are aware of what causes pothos root rot?

Compact Soil

This type of soil has poor draining capacity. It holds most of the given water for a long time period. Pothos sitting in water for a long time develop root rot.

This is the reason we always recommend well-draining potting soil for indoor growing plants.

Plants that are growing in pots have a limited amount of soil in their pots. They get everything from the potting soil.

A little bit of extra moisture can disturb their healthy life.

Because potted plants cannot drain extra water into the ground like plants growing in garden soil.

This is the reason plants growing in the ground are less prone to root rot. They have other problems like pests and other health issues.

Do not use compact soil because it holds extra water and becomes compact on watering, and has fewer air pockets.

Instead, growers should use well-draining ready-to-use potting soil.

Overuse of Water

Most of the time people think that by supplying more water they can speed up the growth of their indoor growing pothos.

But this is not true, it is a myth.

Lots of water in the potting soil will only increase the chances of root fungal infections.

Waterlogged soil + humid environment is the best place for fungal bacteria to live and reproduce.

Therefore, limit the use of water in growing pothos. Let the soil dry a little bit then water your plants a second time.

Quality of Water

Pothos has a soft root system they are delicate plants. You should only use filtered water for watering pothos to prevent root rot.

Filtered water does not contain heavy minerals like hard water.

Sometimes our tap water contains chlorine and fluorides. Both these substances are harmful to the roots.

These unwanted substances get collected at the base of the plant and block the absorption of water and nutrients.

Hence your plant develops yellow leaves and becomes weak.

The potting soil holds too much water and results in pothos root rot.

Use of Infected Soil

Carefully choose the soil for your pothos because contaminated soil destroys your plants. Garden soil and non-sterilized soil contain fungal bacteria like:

  • Phytophthora
  • Pythium
  • Rhizoctonia

These three are the culprit of root damage only if you are using infected soil.

This is the reason we do not encourage people to use their garden soil in growing indoor plants. Only use commercial-made ready-to-use potting soils.

These soil mixes are long-lasting and cheap as compared to fertilizers.

Do not try to sterilize garden soil by using a microwave or oven. These methods are not 100% full proof.

Wrong Size Pots

Using too large or too small pots also results in pothos root rot. The extra-large size pot holds too much potting soil.

This too much soil holds too much water and creates overwatering conditions.

On the other side, small pots have less free space for pothos roots. The roots of the plant bind together due to compact space.

This clog the pot and the result is poor drainage and leads to rotting roots.

Pots without a Drainage system

The use of plant pots without a drainage system also increases the chances of root rot in pothos.

To prevent this condition manufacturers start making small holes at the bottom of their pots. These holes are called drainage holes.

Their job is to drain the extra out of the pot in the bottom tray. Then growers can empty the tray to save their plants.

The material of the pot also helps growers to prevent root rot. Use terracotta pots, they are made with a porous material.

Porous material allows outside air to enter into the soil and helps dry the soil and prevent overwatering of pothos.

Watering in Winters

Following the same summer watering routine in the winter season causes root rot. Because in winters plants need less water and nutrients.

This is their dormancy period means their resting time.

They need water and nutrients to survive in cold weather. But by supplying a huge amount of water. You are creating an overwatering situation.

Therefore, you need to check the soil conditions before watering especially in the winter months.

Too Cold Temperature

By placing your pothos in the cold temperature you are inviting root fungus like many diseases. The cold temperature slows down the respiration and transpiration processes in plants.

Both these processes use a good amount of water. Because your plant is in the cold room it stops using the proper water and most of the water stays in the soil for a long time.

This condition of soil results in root rot.

To prevent this condition, you must keep your pothos in a warm room.

How to Save Pothos from Root Rot?

Once you identify the cause of pothos root rot. The next step is to fix the issue. Take immediate action to save your infected pothos.

Repotting is the only method that can save your dying pothos due to root rot.

Below are the safety steps for repotting root-damaged pothos

  • Gently lose the potting soil so that you can easily unpot the plant without damaging its roots. Hold the plant from its base and tap the container from all sides. Slowly pull the plant step- by step.
  • Untangle the roots and use a paper towel to remove the soil from the roots. Do not use water to clean the roots. You can use paper to do so.
  • Now inspect the roots and check for the presence of pathogens. Check the color of the roots it should be white. Brown or black roots are damaged parts of the root ball.
  • Use sterilized sharp shears to cut the infected roots. Use a new pot and fill it with fresh potting soil. Place your plant in it and gently tap the soil around the base of the plant.
  • Carefully choose well-draining soil for the fast recovery of pothos.
  • Mist water on the soil to keep it moist. Do not pour water directly into the plant in the first 24 hours. After 24 hours you can follow the regular watering routine.
  • Do not forget to check the soil before watering.

For Fast Recovery

  • To speed up the recovery process you must give proper care to your newly potted plant. Place the pot in indirect light.
  • Check the water level in potting soil before watering.
  • Do not use fertilizers until your plant shows healthy signs.
  • Do not change its place frequently.

How You Can Prevent Root rot in Pothos?

Take care of a few things to keep your pothos healthy and thriving. Root rot will never infect your plant roots if you take the below care tips seriously.

Avoid Overwatering

The first step towards preventing root rot in pothos is a watering limit. Pothos need moist soil to grow they do not need water-rich soil.

By flooding your plant, you cannot reduce the number of watering sessions per week. You are inviting root fungal and leaf fungal diseases.

The best way of watering is to check the soil moisture level before pouring water. To check soil moisture, you can use soil moisture testing tools.

They give an accurate reading and are inexpensive, buy one from amazon.

Use perfect Soil

Perfect soil for pothos is fast-draining soil with some organic material in it. Make sure you are using well-draining soil and the mixture has organic nutrients.

If you do not want to take the stress of fertilizing the plant. The stress-free option is using pre-fertilized soil.

This potting mix has all the essential ingredients in it for good health and the growth of pothos.

Avoid Low Light areas

Do not place your pothos in low-light areas. It needs a good amount of indirect light for photosynthesis. Pothos use most of the given water in photosynthesis.

By placing it in indirect bright light you are encouraging your plant to use water efficiently and also avoiding overwatering issues.

While selecting its place just make sure your plant is away from direct sun rays. Direct sunlight is not beneficial for the plant. It can give you sunburned leaves.

Repotting on Time

To prevent root rot in pothos, you must repot your pothos on time because the old soil in pots becomes heavy and compact.

Such soil loses its air pockets and becomes waterlogged after watering.

Moreover, repotting is required to put new life into your plant. After some years the potting soil loses its fertility and repotting gives a good nutritional boost to your plant.


If you take quick action then you can save your pothos from root rot. The type of soil, watering sessions, the material of the pot, etc. All affect the health conditions of plant roots.

It is better to prevent root rot and you can do so by making the above-suggested changes in your care routine.


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