Dark Spots On Pothos' Leaves...What's Wrong? Please Help!

uniquelydivine(6)October 8, 2012

Hi Everyone,

I have a pothos that started as cuttings in a vase and eventually rooted over about 5 months.

I noticed brown spots on two of the leaves before I repotted the plant in September and thought it was due to the plant being too close to the window so I didn't really think it was a problem.

Today I noticed some more of the leaves (now about 6 total) have the same brown spots and I see small impressions that look like they will eventually turn into the bigger brown spots on some more leaves.

Does anyone have any idea why this is happening and how I can fix it? Should I take the leaves with the spots off?


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Here is the second picture. Sorry I couldn't add them all at once.

    Bookmark   October 8, 2012 at 5:25PM
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Third and last picture.

    Bookmark   October 8, 2012 at 5:26PM
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Hello?????????? Anyone?????????????????????

    Bookmark   October 8, 2012 at 7:56PM
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Hi Uniquely

Yea, just take off the leaves with the brown spots, and make sure the plant is not too wet. If you're using regular soil, it should be aerated enough so that if you pull some up from well down into the pot, and squeeze it between your fingers, it should barely stick together, and fall apart as soon as you stop squeezing it; or if you stick some kind of probe into it, it should have only the barest trace of moisture.

    Bookmark   October 8, 2012 at 8:54PM
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These are epiphytes so they like plenty of air around the roots. Problems usually start with too much water and too little air around the root system.

    Bookmark   October 8, 2012 at 11:00PM
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Tiffany, purpleinopp GardenWeb, Z8b Opp, AL(8B AL)

Those may be oedema spots. This thread may have some pertinent info for you.

Do not google "pothos oedema" pics while your kids are in the room!

    Bookmark   October 9, 2012 at 9:14AM
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Purpleinopp, after reading that thread you sent, I don't believe it's th same thing. I think she said that she had holes in the leaves and they were yellowing. Mine has those dark spots and the leaves are already like a yellow-green variety. I believe that I have a golden pothos. There is no change in the leaf color only about 6 leaves have the brown spots on them and I'm trying to figure out what's wrong to avoid it from getting worse.

Any suggestions? Thanks!

    Bookmark   October 9, 2012 at 10:12AM
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Tiffany, purpleinopp GardenWeb, Z8b Opp, AL(8B AL)

Below is the passage I thought might apply to your plant if those are oedema spots, which I'm fairly new to myself. Or the term, anyway. Have seen the spots on various plants over the years. I realize your spots are described differently than what was described in the linked thread, but there is no picture there, and I don't think all oedema spots are identical. My Pothos has a few spots identical to your description, and from the reading I've done since recently learning the term, have assumed they were oedema.

"I think the first issue could easily be a residual symptom of oedema, which can result from over-watering at any point, but especially during periods of cool conditions and low light. An unscientific way to think about oedema is like this: The roots are pushing water upward. If the plant can't use all the water being sent, some of it causes cells to burst and die. During low light and cool temperatures, photosynthesis (uses water) and respiration are slowed, which compounds the problem to the degree that over-watering may not even be a necessary component for oedema to become an issue. "

In this discussion, it is also mentioned that rapid temperature changes can play a role. Could that be a factor for your plant?

"It could easily be light-related, and I'll explain that in a sec. You are watering correctly, but some soils aren't conducive to ALLOW us to water correctly. IOW, if your soil is so water-retentive that it stays wet for a week after you water, that's an issue. The reason is, if you only water a little at a time so you don't flush the soil, you ensure a build-up of salts that makes it difficult for the plant to take up water. High salt levels OR too much water in the soil can cause spotty spoiled foliage by two mechanisms. One is through oedema, the other is through the plants inability to supply water to all parts of the leaves. Tissue the plant has most difficulty moving water to dies first. This is most often on leaf tips and margins, but when it's light-related it can occur in the center of the leaf, too. "

    Bookmark   October 9, 2012 at 10:44AM
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Exactly what is the causative agent is hard to determine without a laboratory analysis - it could be oedema, or phytopthera, or something else. The important thing for you to know is that the cause is most probably overwet roots. The reason you want to remove the damaged leaves (aside from cosmetics) is that if there are any air-born pathogens involved - like from a fungus - removal of the leaves does alot to control those pathogens. As a professional interior landscaper, I've seen this often, and it's usually not serious as long as you take steps to allow the plants roots to breathe, i.e. aerate well between waterings.

TropicB, that's the first time I've heard a pothos called an epiphyte. I don't think it is, technically, because if the main stem is cut, the whole plant dies. I can see how you could get that idea, though, because in the wild their little rootlets attach to trees and up they go, much like common ivy. So if you call ivy an epiphyte, then yea, I guess pothos is too. But they don't have roots that dangle in the air, like some bromeliads and orchids

    Bookmark   October 9, 2012 at 1:55PM
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Tiffany, purpleinopp GardenWeb, Z8b Opp, AL(8B AL)

FW, you might find this discussion interesting. Epipremnum is definitely an epiphyte. Most of us just never get to see a mature or even wild specimen.

    Bookmark   October 9, 2012 at 2:59PM
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tapla (mid-MI z5b-6a)

To me, it looks like Pseudomonas - or bacterial leaf spot (have you been misting, or watering with water from a nasty watering can?), but pothos develop a lot of physiological problems that look like that if they are kept too cool or are subjected to sudden drops in temperature. Leaf issues resultant of poor root conditions (soggy soil) usually show up first on distal parts - leaf tips/margins, rather than more toward the leaf's center, and fungal infections that occur on foliage are more often than not advanced manifestations of infections that also involve roots/stems, as in 'southern blight' a common pothos problem.

I would remove and destroy the affected leaves & concentrate on making sure the cultural conditions you supply are as favorable as you can make them.


    Bookmark   October 9, 2012 at 3:15PM
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Thanks to everyone for responding.

I'm going to remove the leaves. I think it's due to me moving the pothos away from the window. It's not getting alot of light like before. I think it may also be due to where I live being "stuffy." I've had the windows closed and I don't believe the plants are getting any ventilation. I am scared to open the window because the temperature drops throughout the day (i live in NYC) and the weather isnt consistent like summer weather. All my plants are close to the window. Even if the pothos isn't right next to the window, it's still close (I would say about 2 feet away). Due to my plants being so close to the window, would you all recommend me opening the window to let some air in? I haven't done so because I'm scared the will suffer from the air coming in. Is that a good idea? Thanks.

    Bookmark   October 9, 2012 at 4:07PM
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Tiffany, purpleinopp GardenWeb, Z8b Opp, AL(8B AL)

What kind of temps are you talking about?

This discussion sent me outside to remove 4 leaves in case the spots were that pseudomonas thing.

Wondering if "nasty" could apply to buckets of rain water if the buckets were used to temporarily hold compostables (which may have started composting in bucket before being dumped) or other non-sanitary activities like holding cuttings in water for a up to a week until potting up.

    Bookmark   October 9, 2012 at 4:41PM
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Well today it's in the 50's here in NYC. As far as this week's forecast, it ranges from in the 40's to upper 60's. I would only open the window a little bit throughout the day so at least some air comes inside. I would definitely close the window at night. Just not sure how the plants would react to the temp changes. Any advice?

    Bookmark   October 9, 2012 at 5:36PM
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rhizo_1 (North AL) zone 7

Pothos are terrestrial plants.

    Bookmark   October 9, 2012 at 6:15PM
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I give up. This is the 4th time I've tried to send this - anyone else have everything disappear when you hit 'preview'?Or is it just my funky computer. No humor, no asides, just simply...

Unique, don't open your window, unless you're there to close them. 40 degree temps will definitely harm your tropicals. Pothos are tough old jungle weeds, not that fussy, just make sure it's not wet, per all the stuff we've been talking about, and she'll be OK.

Tropic, all the stuff I've ever heard about epiphytes says they use other plants for support, but gather moisture and nutrients through their dangling roots, as well as othr plant parts. Broms, orchids, etc. Pothos, philodendrons, syngonium, other aroids, can climb using the rootlets that sprout from the stem, but they are firmly rooted in the ground, and move moisture and nutrients through terrestrial roots. If there are any air roots, they're busy growing down to the ground where they can root properly. And if you cut the main stems that are growing up the tree, the plant dies. So if you know of any current definitions of epiphytes that fit this description, I'd love to hear it.

Also the changes in leaf size don't happen because of age or growing on a pole; they are dependent on the amount of room the roots have to spread out. You can take a 6" pothos from the store and plant it under a tree, and in a few months it will start growing up, and in a few years the leaves will be a foot across and the stems 4" or more; conversely, you can grow one for 20 years in a pot, up a pole to the ceiling or hanging down for 6', and the leaves will always be 3" or so.
I know, I have them in my back yard.

    Bookmark   October 9, 2012 at 8:56PM
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The message did go through. Ok I guess I won't be opening the windows then. I removed the leaves last night so now I'm just going to be careful with my watering and see what happens.

    Bookmark   October 10, 2012 at 10:52AM
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pirate_girl(Zone7 NYC)

I too live in NYC. My windows are never closed, I leave 'em open at least an inch on the bottom always. My sills are lined w/ plants, I haven't lost anything to the cold yet. While I don't have lots of tropicals (they're in middle of the room), I've got some & all my Hoyas are at or near the windows.

Pothos don't need strong light near the window, I grow them in cups of water in my bathroom, across the room from the window, they do fine.

Pothos leaves get ratty sometimes, when they do, just pluck off that single leaf & they're fine. Next time, I'd use a smaller pot for the Pothos, that pot may be a bit big for them which can contribute to overwatering problems.

PS: It's not unusual for a day or 2 to pass before anyone responds to a thread, that's not abnormal.

    Bookmark   October 10, 2012 at 4:25PM
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pirate_girl(Zone7 NYC)

Hi FicusWrangler,

Hasn't happened to me lately, but here's a trick I use which has saved a whole lot of time!!

When you're done writing your text, copy it as if you're going to paste it into another doc. This way, if something goes awry (unless you close the program) it'll be the last thing in your computer's "memory" so that once things calm down & you get back to a clear screen, you can invoke "paste" & there's your text.

Sometimes I write long responses & would hate to have to re-type them. I was a professional word processor for many years & it occurred to me to do this. Unless you close the program, the Copy/Paste will stay in memory until you perform the next one.

Hope it helps!

(PG) Karen

    Bookmark   October 10, 2012 at 6:11PM
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PG, thanks, that's a great idea. I love that handle 'PG' I used to have a cat we called PG - short for Punjab Geronimo. (Don't ask, it's a long story. This was in 1970, if that gives you a clue.)

Re the open window thing, it's your call. Someone who's done a thing definitely trumps someone who hasn't. Just wanted you to be aware of the 40degree mark for tropicals.

    Bookmark   October 10, 2012 at 9:24PM
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Tiffany, purpleinopp GardenWeb, Z8b Opp, AL
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