When you see your once green pothos turn into a white pothos, it could be a sign that something is amiss with the plant. But is that always the case?
Definitely not! In fact, there are some pothos varieties that have white variegations on their foliage, and these variegations are often sought after.
Let’s take a look at why pothos turn white and what can be done to fix the problem – or if you should even do so.
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Why is my pothos turning white?
A pothos turning white is typically caused by either low potassium or low light conditions, but there are other issues that can also result in your pothos starting to turn pale or white.
1. Low light
Even though pothos can tolerate conditions with low light, too much of it will have a negative effect on the plant’s overall health. It will also cause the foliage to start turning white.
This is because the leaves are not absorbing enough sunlight needed for chlorophyll, which is vital for plants.
2. Potassium deficiency
Potassium is an important nutrient that encourages plant growth. When the pothos isn’t receiving the right amount of potassium, its leaves will begin to turn white and its growth will become stunted.
If you have a variegated pothos then you may see the leaves start to develop a white-colored pattern. If the discoloration is caused by variegation, then there is nothing to worry about, and nothing for you to do. This is a natural process that won’t harm the plant.
4. Improper watering
Too much, as well as too little, watering can cause the pothos leaves to change color.
While that color is typically more brown or black, an underwatered pothos may also see its leaves starting to turn white.
5. Powdery mildew
Powdery mildew is a common fungal disease that leaves a white, powder-like substance on the foliage of plants. It is caused by a fungus that thrives in humid and warm conditions. If left untreated, it will stunt the growth of the pothos and even spread to other plants.
6. Spider mites
Spider mites are annoying pests that infest a slew of different plant species, including pothos. These sap-sucking insects feed on the plant cells and will cover the foliage and stems with a white web-like substance.
How to stop pothos leaves turning white?
Knowing the cause of the white discoloration is the first step in taking care of the problem. Once you know why your plant has turned into a white pothos, you can take the necessary steps to correct the issue and keep it from returning.
1. Provide proper lighting
Ensuring your plant has proper lighting is one of the easiest ways to stop pothos leaves from turning white.
Pothos need 12 or more hours of indirect and bright light. If the plant is not getting this amount or type of light, you may have to move it to a better area.
2. Make sure the pothos has proper nutrition
Ensuring your pothos, or any plant for that matter, has good nutrition will go a long way to keeping it healthy.
One way to do this is to fertilize the pothos with a balanced liquid fertilizer designed for tropical houseplants. Another option is to add organic matter to the soil that the pothos is currently growing in.
3. Water only when needed
Too much and too little watering can both cause issues for the pothos. Not only can it discolor the plant’s foliage, but it can also put its health in danger. Thankfully, this is one of the easier problems to correct.
Only water the pothos when the top two inches of soil are dry. You can check the dryness by sticking your finger into the soil. Water the plant if it feels dry.
4. Treat powdery mildew
If the white substance on your pothos can be brushed off, it could have powdery mildew. This fungal disease won’t go away on its own and will require fungicide treatments. You should also remove and discard any leaves that are covered in the substance.
Since powdery mildew thrives in humid conditions with low airflow, you may need to reduce the humidity level around the plant. Furthermore, refrain from grouping houseplants together as this can impede the flow of air, which increases the chance of fungal diseases such as powdery mildew.
5. Get rid of spider mites
While they are annoying, spider mites typically are not hard to control unless you have an extreme infestation.
Insecticidal soap applied to the tops and underside of the foliage, as well as to the stems, will typically get rid of spider mites in a matter of days. You may, however, have to apply the pesticide multiple times before the spider mites are gone.
What is a white pothos called?
There are a few different pothos varieties that have white variegation. The most common one, however, is called Marble Queen and it features a dark green and white variegation that looks like they are interwoven into one another. This gives the plant a patterned appearance similar to a knit blanket or tapestry.
Manjula pothos was developed by the University of Florida, and it is a cross between the N’Joy pothos and the Marble Queen pothos. Its variegation ranges in color, and can be white, cream, green, and silver.
The Pearls and Jade pothos are another white pothos variety that features deep green foliage that are tipped in white or silverish gray hues.
How do you take care of a white pothos?
Pothos is not a picky plant, and can tolerate a wide array of growing conditions. Taking care of a white pothos is done in a similar fashion as taking care of other pothos varieties.
1. Provide the right temperature
White pothos are native to tropical climates and will need a temperature that falls between 70 and 90 degrees Fahrenheit. These temps will need to be provided throughout the entire year.
In the United States, pothos are typically grown indoors since most areas do not maintain these high temps throughout the year.
2. Avoid temperature fluctuations
Placing the white pothos in an area where the temperatures fluctuate drastically is a recipe for disaster.
That is why it is important to keep the pothos away from entryway doors, heating/cooling vents, and areas with drafts.
3. Increase humidity levels
White pothos are not overly picky plants, but they do their best when they live in an area with humidity levels of at least 50%.
Using a drip tray or humidifier can help you achieve these higher levels of humidity that the pothos so love.
4. Provide the white pothos with 12 hours of light
Pothos are sun-loving plants that need at least 12 hours of light. With that said, however, never place the pothos in direct sunlight as this will burn the foliage. Instead, locate an area where the pothos will get bright, indirect light.
One of the great things about pothos is its ability to deal with various growing environments. Because of their ability to adapt, pothos can tolerate lower lighting conditions, though it can increase the chance of your white pothos losing their variegation. Keep that in mind when deciding where to place the plant’s pot.
5. Water when the top two inches of soil is dry
Overwatering any plant is easy to do, but it is vital for the overall health of the plant that you avoid watering too much. Too much water will increase the chance of the pothos developing root rot and other fungal diseases, all of which can kill the plant.
Most gardeners agree that underwatering a plant is not nearly as harmful as overwatering. This is because a plant can typically snap back from underwatering much quicker than it can from overwatering. If you overwater the white pothos, you will have to repot the entire plant in a new soil and hope that the roots haven’t succumbed to root rot.
6. Grow the pothos in the right soil
Pothos don’t like their feet soggy, and growing them in compact soil that doesn’t drain properly is one of the quickest ways to give the plant root rot. Making sure the pothos is in light and well-draining soil will help reduce the chance of overwatering, as well as help prevent fungal diseases.
A good general rule of thumb is to grow pothos in a potting mix consisting of perlite, peat moss, and garden soil. Another option is to use potting soil designed for succulents.
7. Provide fertilizer when the plant is actively growing
Despite not being heavy feeders, your white pothos can still benefit from fertilizer applied during the plant’s active growing season, which is in the spring, summer, and fall.
Use the application instructions found on the fertilizer bottle, but cut that amount in half. Then apply the fertilizer to the white pothos once every three weeks.
Make sure, however, that you don’t fertilize the plant in the winter when it is dormant and not growing. Adding fertilizer when the plant is dormant will encourage new growth at the wrong time, which can cause serious problems for the health of your white pothos.
8. Prune your white pothos
Pruning your pothos will help encourage growth and keep the plant healthy and happy. If you don’t prune the plant, it can quickly become long, tall, and even wild-looking. In fact, it is not uncommon for pothos to reach 10 feet tall when grown indoors.
Use clean pruning shears whenever you prune your pothos, and make sure you snip the plant above a leaf node. Healthy stems that have been removed from the pothos can be potted in soil or water to root. This is a fun way to get more pothos!
Pruning can also be used to help get rid of damaged or diseased stems. If you do remove diseased stems or leaves, do not try to save the cuttings and instead toss them in the trash. This reduces the chance of spreading the disease.
9. Transplant the pothos when needed
As the white pothos grows, it will start to become too big for its current container. When this occurs, the plant will need to be transplanted into a bigger pot. If you don’t repot the plant, it can become root bound.
In most cases, the white pothos will need to be repotted once every two to three years, although this can vary depending on the plant’s growth rate. When it is time to repot the pothos, select a new container that is about 3 to 4 times the size of the old pot.
Make sure you undertake the repotting process only during the spring and summer months. This is when the plant is actively growing, and the chance of surviving the transplant is higher than if you wait to do it during its dormant period.
10. Watch for diseases and pests
Like other houseplants, white pothos can come under attack from various diseases and pests. Root rot is one of the most serious issues that occurs when the plant is overwatered and not grown in the right soil or pot.
Thankfully, you can prevent this from occurring by ensuring the pothos has well-drained soil in a pot that features drainage holes at the bottom.
11. Remember that loss of variegation can happen to white pothos
Most white pothos are not immune to loss of variegation, which means the attractive white-colored pattern on the leaves will revert back to green. While there are some things you can do to help reduce the chance of this occurring, sometimes there is no stopping it.
The most common cause of variegation loss is not providing the white pothos with enough light. This is one of the quickest ways for your white pothos to turn green.
With that said, however, a pothos can lose its variegation at any time for any reason. Even if you provide the plant with the perfect care, it can still turn back to green. So try not to feel too bad if your white pothos is no longer white.