Why Are My Satin Pothos Leaves Turning Yellow?

Why Are My Satin Pothos Leaves Turning Yellow

The satin pothos is a low-maintenance vining houseplant that is very easy to grow. It is a tropical plant and does not do well in cold climates, so it is better off grown as an indoor plant in regions with four seasons.

The satin pothos is different from other pothos plants in that its leaves are dotted with a silvery variegation that make them appear to shimmer. This is one of the reasons this plant is so popular – it adds a pop of color and beauty to any room you keep it in.

The plant can be grown alongside a trellis or a pole for it to climb as it grows, or you can let it trail as a groundcover. Another option is to plant it in a hanging pot or basket and let the foliage spill over the edges.

Despite being very low-maintenance, the satin pothos does have its share of problems, one of the most common being yellowing leaves. This discoloration is due to an environmental factor that is stressing the plant, and the most likely causes are underwatering, overwatering, too much sunlight, not enough light, overfertilization, temperature extremes, low humidity, nutrient deficiency, pests, and natural aging.

In this article, we will discuss each of the causes of yellowing satin pothos leaves, as well as what you can do to resolve each issue. So, if you are currently experiencing this problem and wish to learn more about it, just keep reading.

Why are my satin pothos leaves turning yellow?

Not enough water 

Satin pothos’ natural habitat is tropical, and it must have access to sufficient water in order to carry out its physiological processes. Water and sunlight are two of the most important factors in photosynthesis, which is how the plant produces food.

When the soil becomes dry, the plant begins to conserve nutrients and energy, and this will be reflected in the leaves as they become yellow and limp after prolonged drought stress.

Their wilting and drooping is caused by an excessive loss of water, while the discoloration is due to nutrient deficiency. Because of the lack of resources during times of drought, the plant sacrifices its leaves in order to keep the stems and roots alive until the next rainfall (or watering), hence the yellowing and falling leaves.

If you think your plant is underwatered, water it immediately. Soak all of the soil in the pot generously until you can see the excess water flowing out of the drainage holes at the bottom.

The best way to avoid underwatering your plant is by knowing accurately when it needs watering. Check the soil’s moisture content by feeling the top two inches of soil. If they are dry, water the plant, but if the soil is still damp, wait one or two days before checking it again.

Too much water

Overwatering is one of the most common causes of yellowing leaves on your satin pothos. The problem occurs as a result of poor drainage, which causes the soil in the pot to become waterlogged.

The roots of the plant will drown and start to rot if the soil is not allowed to dry out between waterings. Thus compromised, they will have difficulty absorbing water and nutrients from the soil, and the plant will slowly stop flourishing. If the problem is not addressed in time, it will start turning yellow and may eventually die.

To avoid overwatering your plant, give the soil time to dry out between waterings. As mentioned above, stick your finger into the soil to gauge its moisture level: if the top two inches of soil are dry, water the plant, but if the soil is still damp, wait a few days before checking again.

Also make sure that the plant’s pot has sufficient drainage holes at the bottom so that any excess water can easily flow out.

If you suspect that a significant portion of your plant’s roots may have rotted, unpot the plant and examine the roots to determine the extent of the problem. Prune away the rotten roots with sterile scissors, leaving the healthy ones alone. Repot the plant in a new container filled with fresh, well-draining soil. 

Too much sunlight

Your satin pothos will flourish in areas with bright, indirect light. This filtered light is adequate for the plant to perform photosynthesis. If it is exposed to too much direct sunlight, its leaves and stems may get scorched, and will then turn yellow and wilt.

Avoid placing the plant right next to a window, if possible. Keep it in a room that receives adequate natural sunlight that does not directly hit the plant. If the window in this room is letting in too much light, you can place a sheer curtain over it to diffuse the intensity.

If your plant has yellowing leaves due to overexposure to sunlight, simply move it to a spot that receives more indirect light. Your sunburnt plant will eventually recover and adjust to its new lighting conditions.

Not enough light

Placing your plant in a dark room can also cause yellowing of the leaves and the stems, because it will not receive sufficient light to conduct photosynthesis. This problem is frequently associated with smaller leaves and leggy or stunted growth, and is most common during the winter months when the sunlight is weaker and more limited.

To fix the problem, start by moving your plant closer to the window. If it is winter, you may be able to get away with placing it right next to the window, because the direct sunlight will not be as intense as during the summer.

If this level of light still does not seem enough to keep your plant happy, try supplementing it using a grow light.

Too much fertilizer

Pothos plants do not require a lot of food if they are grown in a good-quality potting medium, but many growers still like to fertilize their plants to stimulate growth. However, excessive fertilization can cause the plant to wilt and yellow due to an accumulation of mineral salts around the root system.

If you wish to fertilize your plant, do so approximately every two to three months, using a high-quality, well-balanced houseplant fertilizer.

If you suspect you may have overfertilized your plant, flush the soil thoroughly with water, several times, to get rid of any mineral salts that have accumulated. If the damage to the plant is severe, you may have to repot the plant and replace the soil.

Temperature extremes

Pothos plants thrive in temperatures ranging from 70 to 90 degrees Fahrenheit. Any temperature below 50 degrees Fahrenheit or above 90 degrees Fahrenheit will cause your plant to start yellowing. 

It will also be affected by sudden temperature fluctuations, as well as hot or cold drafts; for example, from heating vents, air conditioners, or gaps around windows and doors during winter time.

Choose a spot in your home where your plant will not be subjected to any extreme temperature fluctuations or drafts, and place it there.

Low humidity

Even if you are confident that you have nailed your watering techniques, low humidity could cause your plant’s leaves to yellow. If this is the cause, one of the most common clues is dry leaf edges before the entire leaf turns yellow.

There are some simple methods to increase the humidity in the room where you keep your plant. First, you can mist the leaves with a spray bottle a few times a week to keep them looking fresh. This also helps to get rid of any dust that may have accumulated on the leaves. Do this only in the mornings to allow enough time for the moisture to evaporate off the leaves before the afternoon sun comes out, as it can scorch wet leaves. Furthermore, if the leaves are still damp when the temperature drops at night, it increases the likelihood of leaf rot.

Another way to increase the humidity around your plant is by placing the pot on a tray filled with pebbles and water. As the water evaporates from the tray, it will moisten the air around the plant.

If you are looking for a quick fix, you can rinse the leaves with water in your shower. This will also wash off any dust, as well as pests that may have been hiding there without your knowledge. Be careful not to damage the leaves or vines, though, while the plant is under the shower.

Keeping the plant in the bathroom or the kitchen also exposes it to more humidity than it would get in any other part of the house, and if you have other houseplants that like high humidity, you can group your satin pothos with them so that they create a microclimate around each other.

If you are concerned that the lack of humidity may become a serious problem, it may be best to invest in a humidifier. This is the most reliable way to increase the humidity in your home. A humidifier will automatically regulate the humidity in the room, requiring less effort on your part.

Lack of nutrients

A potting mix that contains the correct balance of trace elements is essential to help your satin pothos thrive. If you grow your plant in soil that is deficient in nitrogen, you can expect its leaves to start yellowing.

If you suspect nitrogen deficiency is the problem with your satin pothos, try applying a nitrogen-rich fertilizer.


A pest infestation can also cause yellowing leaves on your plant. This is a rare occurrence, yet still plausible. As the uninvited guests suck on the leaves, the plant will become more and more stressed and the leaves will turn yellow and fall off.

The majority of pests are visible to the human eye if you look closely or use a magnifying glass, so you can identify the problem by inspecting the leaves. Take a good, close look at the undersides of the leaves, because this is often where the pests hide.

If you identify an infestation, it is very important to isolate your plant to prevent the pests from spreading to your other, healthy plants. Prune away the most severely infested leaves and vines in order to reduce the overall population of insects and to prevent the infestation from spreading. After that, give your plant a thorough wash in the sink and treat it with rubbing alcohol or neem oil. Place the alcohol or neem oil on a cotton pad and wipe down the affected areas on the plant, repeating the process every three to four days until you are certain that all of the pests have been eradicated.

Natural aging of the plant

The yellowing of old foliage may be nothing more than the natural aging process of your satin pothos. It is normal for old leaves to turn yellow and fall off to make way for new growth.

Examine the plant to determine which leaves are turning yellow and falling off. If it is due to aging, usually only the leaves nearest the bottom of the plant will be affected.

The shedding of old foliage reduces the competition for nutrients and energy. There is nothing you need to do if this is the cause of the leaves’ yellowing; this is a completely natural process.


The satin pothos is a beautiful vining houseplant with heart-shaped, silver-flecked leaves. It is a tropical plant and is low-maintenance and easy to grow.

One of the most common problems encountered by satin pothos owners is the yellowing of their plant’s leaves due to one or more environmental factors that are stressing the plant. The most probable causes of this discoloration are underwatering, overwatering, too much sunlight, not enough light, too much fertilizer, temperature extremes, low humidity, lack of nutrients, pests, and natural aging.

The sooner the cause of the problem is identified, the faster the issue can be resolved and the plant saved from further damage.

Image: istockphoto.com / Benjamin Toegel