Why Does My Pothos Have Brown Stems?

If you’ve been caring for a pothos plant and noticed that the stems have turned brown, you’re likely wondering what’s going on. This is a common problem for pothos growers, but it’s not always easy to determine the cause or how to fix it.

In this blog post, we’ll take a look at some of the most common reasons why pothos plants develop brown stems and provide some tips on how to correct the issue.

Why Does My Pothos Have Brown Stems?

The browning on your pothos stem is likely from the new leaf sheath that is growing. As the new leaf begins to grow, it pushes against the old leaf, causing it to turn brown and wither away.

This means you have healthy pothos that is maturing and going through their natural growth cycle – nice work! This sheaf protects the new stem/leaf as it’s growing. Once the sheaf is no longer needed, it drys out, turns brown, and eventually falls off.

This brown sheaf can be carefully removed by hand if you’d like, but it’s not necessary and will eventually fall off on its own.

However, if you notice that the browning is spreading quickly or affecting a large portion of the plant, it could be a sign of something more serious. Here are a few other reasons why your pothos plant might have brown stems:

Too much water

If the stem is soft and mushy to the touch, it’s likely that your plant is getting too much water. The roots are not able to adequately drain the excess moisture, causing the stem to rot.

Similarly, if the browning stem is near the base of the plant where it’s sitting in water, it could be a sign of over-watering. Check the drainage of your pot and make sure that the plant is not sitting in water for extended periods of time.

You may also want to check the roots for signs of root rot. If they are mushy or have turned brown or black, quick action is necessary to save the plant.

Remove the affected roots and replant them in fresh, well-draining soil. Allow the soil to dry out completely between watering to prevent further root rot.

Too much direct sunlight

Pothos plants are notoriously hard to kill, but one thing they don’t tolerate well is direct sunlight. If the browning on the stems is accompanied by yellow leaves, it’s likely that your plant is getting too much sun.

Just like humans, the sun can scorch and damage the leaves of a pothos plant, causing them to turn brown and wither away. Move your plant to an area with indirect or filtered light and you should see the browning start to improve.

Not enough water or humidity

While too much water can cause problems for pothos plants, not enough water can be just as damaging. If the leaves of your plant are wilting or drooping, it’s a sign that they’re not getting enough moisture.

Use a misting bottle to give the leaves a light spray of water, being careful not to saturate them. You can also increase the humidity around your plant by placing it on a pebble tray or using a humidifier.

Disease or pests

If the browning on your pothos plant is accompanied by other symptoms like spots or holes in the leaves, it could be a sign of disease or pests. Inspect your plant carefully and look for any signs of insects or fungal growth.

Treat the affected areas with an appropriate pesticide or fungicide and quarantine the plant from your other houseplants to prevent the spread of disease.

Neem oil is a natural and effective pesticide that can be used to control a wide variety of pests, including aphids, whiteflies, and mealybugs. It’s organic and safe to use around children and pets.

Fertilizer problems

It’s no secret that pothos needs plenty of nutrients to thrive. In fact, a lack of nutrients can itself lead to the discoloration of leaves and stems.

But have you ever heard of fertilizer burn? It’s a common problem that can occur when plants are over-fertilized. If you’ve recently fertilized your pothos plant and the stems have started to turn brown, it’s likely that you’ve applied too much fertilizer.

Flush the soil with water to remove any excess fertilizer and be sure to follow the directions on the fertilizer package to avoid this problem in the future.


In conclusion, if your pothos plant has brown stems, it’s likely due to the natural growth cycle of the plant. The brown part is simply the old leaf sheath that is being replaced by a new one.

However, if the browning is excessive or accompanied by other symptoms, it could be a sign of too much or too little water, direct sunlight, disease, or pests. Inspect your plant carefully and take action accordingly to get it back to good health. Thanks for reading!

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