Pothos (Epipremnum aureum) will die when they are exposed to harsh light, fluctuating temperatures, excessive fertilization, moisture or pests. Although most gardeners keep pothos indoors, they are hardy in mild climates, such as U.S. Department of Agriculture hardiness zone 10. Once given the care they need, the plants are quite tough and with appropriate measures your golden pothos, devil's ivy or hunter's rove should survive.

Diagnosing the Problem

When leaves turn brown, or develop odd spots, the cause could range from insect infestation, to excessive fertilization, to low light.


Many people enjoy pothos plants because their leaves are variegated, with cream colors and other patterns. Leaves that are solid green are receiving inadequate light.

Take care not to overcorrect this problem. Avoid moving your plant to a sunny spots like western and southern facing windows. Not only will this abrupt increase in light shock an already stressed plant, pothos do not do well in full sun.

Instead, move your pothos to an area of the home that receives filtered light. Choose north facing windows, when possible. Keep in mind that light conditions also vary throughout the day.


When leaves turn brown (and if there is no indication of pests) the issue is inconsistent temperature. Pothos should be kept at temperatures between 70-degrees and 90-degrees Fahrenheit. Check the temperature throughout the day to ensure that the plant is kept at optimal temperatures. Be aware of any drafts. Relocate the plant as necessary.

Cutting Back

Yellow leaves develop as the plant ages. Yellow leaves usually fall off the plant until all that is left on a branch are the young, new leaves at the tip. To help the plant recover you will need to prune it back and encourage new growth.

You may also cut back plants that show signs of pest damage. Spots that are brown, yellow or areas of the plant that seem "mushy" indicate that there may be a pest or bacterial issue occurring. In most cases, horticulturists recommend discarding a plant when more than one-third of the plant shows signs of disease or damage.

If you choose to keep the plant, then cut back the diseased parts, ensuring that the equipment used in disinfected. Repot the plant, using sterilized containers and pasteurized soil. Remove the plant from any plants that are nearby. Nurse the plant back to health by providing it with the growing conditions it needs.

Step 1 Disinfect the cutting tool

Dip a pair of scissors, a razor or a sharp knife in rubbing alcohol. Allow the tool to airdry before cutting into the plant. This will help prevent any infestation to occur on the cut plant.

Step 2 Cut plant back

Master gardeners from the University of Wisconsin extension recommend selectively pruning back poor growth. In other words, choose the poorest looking branches and cut them back, as far as two inches from the "soil line, if necessary." This will encourage new growth and help your plant revive.