Pothos Leaves Curling: 5 Causes And Easy Remedies

Whenever someone gets upset, their mouths may slightly curl downward—an expression that inspired the sad face emoji. As it turns out, such a gesture might not be exclusive to humans.

That’s why you’re here, right? Because of the pothos leaves curling issue. You saw your blissful houseplant in that state and you couldn’t bear it, so you went looking for answers. You’ve come to the right place!

This article will help you determine the reason why your plant is frowning, and how to turn that frown upside down! Let’s dive right in!

Why Are My Pothos Leaves Curling?

Much like any living being, the pothos plant has needs. When unmet, its bodily functions start to shut down. In much simpler words, it starts to wilt. In all probability, this will result in some curling leaves, maybe with a touch of paleness.

To remedy this, you have to restore balance. I said “balance” because, when trying to fulfill a plant’s needs, overshooting is as common as under-delivering.

Your heart could be in the right place when you lavish the plant with water, but end up with waterlogged soil and, as a result, curled leaves.

The same goes for sun exposure. Before we get any deeper, though, we should take a step back and start to break this down systematically.

Let’s go through a list of all the common reasons that can cause your pothos leaves to curl, along with ways to reverse the course of damage!

1. Overwatering

Resilient by nature, the pothos plant shows a great deal of resistance to drought. Consequently, it isn’t underwatering that you should be most concerned about; it’s overwatering.

Because of how little water the pothos need, you can easily slip and water it too frequently, which proved lethal for this plant.

You won’t go wrong if you aim for merely quenching its thirst and not a drop past that. Simply, don’t water it until you can feel the drought starting to creep up on the soil. This early stage of dryness is your perfect window.

Additionally, you should keep an eye out for the telltale signs that signal a plant is overwatered.

overwatering plants

What Are the Signs of Overwatering?

Wilting and curling downwards are some of the latest signs that a pothos is approaching its last gasp. You don’t have to wait that long, though.

Way before drowning, the plant calls on you to throw it a lifeline through other manifestations, including:

  • Leaf spotting
  • Developing brown edges
  • Yellowing
  • Guttation

I know you’re probably hollering “hold on” after reading the last item on that list, so let’s explain what “guttation” means!

What Is Guttation?

Curling downward when upset isn’t the only way a pothos plant mirrors human facial expressions. In a sense, the pothos cry, too.

No, I’m not referring to dew, because the water from dew doesn’t come from within the plant. Instead, it’s the result of atmospheric moisture. Plus, dewdrops are too scanty to raise a concern.

Unlike dew, guttation often leads to more fluid dripping off the leaves. The water drops will also be arranged regularly, indicating that they’re secreted from pores built in the leaf—and not some outside moisture condensing haphazardly on the surface of the plant.

The guttation process is the plant’s way to cope with overwatering by expelling the excess out of its system. Needless to say, this compensation attempt can only go so far before the plant fails to keep pace.

Additionally, while guttation helps relieve the water pressure, it does come at a cost. The fluid excreted from the plant isn’t purely water; it also has nutrient-packed sap.

By the way, that’s one more difference between guttation and dew, as the latter is nothing but water.

Aside from this, you should know that guttation is one of the pothos last lines of defense against drowning. That’s why you should take careful note of it, so you can intervene in time.

2. Underwatering

Yes, we put our emphasis on overwatering because it’s the most common pitfall leading to the curling of pothos leaves.

However, we don’t want the pendulum to swing too far the other way, as underwatering is just as bad, and can be the culprit as well.

Underwatering is common in two particular scenarios: if the plant is sitting in bright conditions and if your watering is too irregular.

The more sun the pothos gets, the more watering it needs. So, if summer is on the horizon or you’ve moved the plant to a brighter spot recently, be sure to crank the watering up a notch.

Irregular watering can also wound up causing underwatering, as you may unwittingly deprive the plant of water for an extended period of time.

I know it can be hard to keep track of the pothos watering because it doesn’t follow a standard schedule. But, as a rule of thumb, water it every five to seven days.

Of course, you should expect this frequency to increase in brighter settings. The key lies in habitually checking the soil to know when it needs water.

3. Excessive Sun Exposure

Most plants want to get their hands on as much sunlight as they can. The pothos isn’t most plants, though.

The pothos needs little water, and similarly, it can only take sunlight in small doses. Otherwise, you’ll be risking seeing leaves that are either crispy around the edges, or, you guessed it, curling downward.

Generally speaking, this plant should have moderate sunlight for a couple of hours a day. That said, let’s get more specific and detail how much the pothos can survive in different degrees of sunlight.

direct sunlight

If it’s dappled sunlight we’re talking about, then you can safely leave it there all day long. Dappled sunlight is the light that gets through the tree canopy and falls on your pothos.

“I’m not in the jungles, where do I get tree canopy from?” If you’re saying that, then let me introduce you to shade gardens. These are the gardens where shade takes over, and light is only a shy presence.

You can get yourself one of those by planting near a tall tree or two. Alternatively, having a garden beside a tall building can do the trick just fine. Shade gardens are pretty underrated if you ask me, and they have a certain beauty that only a few get to experience.

That was a quick detour through the “jungle,” now let’s get back on the main road and see how the pothos can tolerate other degrees of light.

If the spot you place your plant in receives direct sunlight, then you should leave it there only for two hours a day, with six as the maximum. Now, what if the exact opposite is true? What if the plant is immersed in deep shade?

4. Too Little Sunlight

While it’s true that this is a low-light type of plant, it’s still nonetheless a plant. Meaning, light is essential for it to create its life-sustaining energy. More than two straight hours without a hint of light and you risk withering the plant over time, or stunting its growth at best.

This lack of sunlight issue is more common than you think. Many people use the pothos as an indoor ornamental plant, driving them to put the plant too deep inside the house, far from the much-needed sunlight. In such conditions, the plant begins showing signs of ill health, in the form of:

  • Smaller leaves
  • Yellow lower leaves
  • Stunted growth
  • Pale foliage
  • The stem between leaves becomes longer

Does that mean you can’t use the pothos as an ornamental plant? Not at all. Luckily, artificial light can sub in for the missing natural light.

Be careful, though, and remember that the pothos is a low-light plant. When using fluorescent light, it should be around 10 to 15 watts for each square foot and nothing more.

5. Low Temperature

In terms of temperature, the pothos plant isn’t too picky. It’s content with room temperature, which is anywhere from 10 to 24 degrees.

However, when the temperature drops below that range, the plant becomes out of its element, which may lead it to curl down its leaves.

Such uncomfortably low temperatures are common in cases of cold draughts. So, when the wind starts howling out there, close the windows or place the plant temporarily away from them.

plant leaves covered in snow

Of course, cold currents from air conditioners can also be the culprit, so make sure to create some distance between the plant and the freezing breeze.

It’s also worth mentioning that the pothos just adores humidity. So much so that if the air isn’t naturally humid enough, the plant could benefit from some man-made humidity.

Of course, I’m talking about misting, which means spraying water on the plant to make things moister. As you don’t want to drench the plant, you should use a plant mister that distributes water evenly and efficiently.

Final Words

Seeing your pothos leaves curling should surely sound an alarm for you, as there could be something serious at work.

However, whether it’s a watering, sunlight, or temperature issue, no matter how serious it is, the fix is almost always simple. As long as you act promptly, your pothos will be out of harm’s way!