hands folding the leaves over on a neon pothos

Why Pothos Drips Water (Sweats) And What to Do About It

People sweat when they’re warm, but should your pothos plant do the same? Something doesn’t seem right about that. Is your pothos hot? Should you move it somewhere cooler? Why is it sweating? I think you’re going to enjoy learning the answer to this common question.

Why does pothos sweat and what can you do about it? When pothos “sweats,” what’s really happening is guttation, which manifests as water dripping off the leaves. If your pothos is sweating, it’s a sign the weather is humid or that the plant has been overwatered. Simply reduce the amount of water you’re giving your pothos and it should stop sweating within a few days.

Wait, what does guttation even mean? Is your pothos going to die if it’s sweating? Keep reading, as we’ll answer all those questions and more in this article. You won’t want to miss it.

Why Does My Pothos Sweat? What Should I Do About It?

Understanding Guttation

We want to make a few things clear before we get too far in. First, when a houseplant sweats, it’s not releasing sugar, salt, urea, ammonia, and water like we do when we perspire. It’s just water coming out. Also, any houseplant can sweat, but it happens more noticeably with the pothos plant. In fact, this houseplant has sort of earned a reputation for it.

Some people say it’s sweating, others insist it’s crying, but it’s neither. Instead, your pothos is going through a process known as guttation.  

When the soil moisture levels get high enough, the roots of your houseplant receive extra water. This water puts pressure on the roots, which want to push the water out. That happens through water glands or hydathodes on the tip of the pothos leaf, which release the water. You then see your houseplant dripping, aka sweating.

Why does guttation happen? There are two reasons, and one is environmental. For instance, maybe the seasons changed from winter to spring or summer. You could have also put a humidifier in your home or apartment. Either way, with more moisture in the air, the pothos releases more water through guttation.

Overwatering your pothos is another cause of guttation. That said, even when sticking to a regular watering schedule, your houseplant could still sweat. This is because most houseplants don’t need all the water you give them. Yes, that’s even if you don’t overdo it.

It’s said that houseplants will transpire and/or guttate as much as 97 to 99.5 percent of the water content you offer. With transpiration, water travels throughout the plant and gets evaporated from the surface of the flowers, stems, or leaves.

We do want to note that when your pothos or other houseplants sweat, you’re not going to wake up to see them soaked in water. Instead, a drop or two of water will come off the tip of their leaves. It’s just enough to be noticeable. Guttation also occurs more often at night, when transpiration stops and the stomata of a houseplant shuts.

What to Do about Sweating Pothos

Okay, so let’s say you happen to notice that your pothos is dripping water from its leaves. This has you freaked out, especially because you’ve never seen your houseplant do it before. Is your pothos a goner? What should you do to help it?

You don’t necessarily have to do much of anything. Guttation is a natural occurrence. It can be a sign that you’re watering your pothos too much, like we said, so you might want to cut back there.

Pothos are not one of those houseplants that need very frequent waterings. In fact, they prefer some time for their soil to dry. Like you can do with many other indoor plants, try the soil test with your pothos plant. With the soil test, you want to press your fingertip into the surface of the soil to feel how dry or moist it is. For pothos, you can dig your fingers in at least two inches deep.

If it’s dry down to two inches, then it’s time to water your pothos. Otherwise, leave it alone. Also, do make sure you don’t end up swinging too far in the other direction where you don’t want the houseplant often enough. If your pothos has browned and/or wilting leaves, then it’s asking for more water.

Other Pothos Issues to Look out For

Not to say that pothos sweating is an issue, per se, but there are plenty of problems that can affect your pothos plant. Let’s talk a bit more about these now.

Leaf Droopiness

Your poor pothos leaves can begin losing structure and firmness, sitting very droopily. Why has your houseplant gotten so saggy? This is another sign of an underwatered pothos. The leaves may look wilted besides being limp.

If you get your houseplant on a better watering schedule, the leaves should come back to life. This doesn’t mean drench the pothos in water to make up for your past mistakes, as that can cause other issues. Just give it as much water as it needs, nothing more.

Yellowed Leaves

Your pothos plant should have bright green teardrop-shaped leaves. If those distinguished leaves begin yellowing, the problem has nothing to do with too much water (or a lack thereof). Instead, the yellow leaves are a sign of the pothos getting too much sun.

Pothos prefer a moderate amount of light. They can survive in low light for a while, but it’s not their favorite thing. Partial shade is nice for them too, but not hours upon hours of direct sun. That much brightness will put a damper on your pothos, making its leaves turn yellow. No southernly-facing windows for the pothos, please.

What if your houseplant gets the right type of light but the leaves are still yellow? Now what? You want to check how often you’re fertilizing your pothos and with what. If you use a fertilizer that doesn’t contain enough nutrients, your pothos leaves could become yellow. The same is true if you fertilize too often, like every week.

You can fertilize your pothos plant monthly if you feel it needs it. When you do, use water-soluble fertilizer only.  

Root Rot

Many houseplants can be afflicted by root rot, and your pothos is no exception. If your indoor plant is sweating because of overwatering, then it may actually only be a matter of time before you notice the symptoms of root rot.

We’ve talked before on this blog about how your houseplant can drown when it doesn’t have enough oxygen but too much water. The roots do need water to pass on to the plant (so it can guttate and transpire, among other things), but when they sit saturated in water, they can begin dying.  

Root rot does not have to spell the end for your pothos, but that’s dependent on you catching and correcting the issue early. You want to make sure you limit how often you water your houseplant for one. Also, double-check that your pothos’ pot is full of well-draining soil. If you have rocks in the pot, get rid of them. It’s something we discussed in another post, but it’s a myth that rocks in houseplant pots are good for your plant. If anything, they block up drainage holes, making root rot more likely.

Related Questions

Can plants cry?

We already talked about how pothos sweating is also referred to as crying. Is that the only kind of “crying” your indoor plants are capable of, or can they do more?

According to this Live Science article, the answer is the latter. If a houseplant sustains an injury, especially from a pathogen, they can make what’s sort of like a distress cry. The leaves of your houseplants use internal chemicals to transmit a signal to the roots. They’re asking for help as they do this.

Your plant’s roots can then release a helpful acid that contains the kind of good bacteria needed to fight infection and ward off illness. Is this the kind of weeping you were maybe thinking of? No, but it’s way cooler, not to mention more beneficial to the houseplant. In some instances, a plant can even save its own life, with no intervention on your part required.

Should I mist pothos?

As you know from this blog, when you mist a houseplant, it’s to maintain its humidity. Thus, it’s typically only necessary for plants that prefer humid environments. Dose the pothos fit that bill?

Yes, it does. The pothos is a humidity lover, but it can just as easily go without too much humidity if you can’t provide it. By keeping your home or office temperature set between 65- and 75-degrees Fahrenheit, your pothos should be just fine.

If you think it needs more humidity, then mist away. However, we’ve said before that misting is a waste of your time. You’d need to mist your houseplant around the clock to keep its humidity up. It’s much better to buy a humidifier for maintaining a certain indoor temperature.

Do pothos like coffee grounds?

You can’t get your day started without your morning cup of coffee, but what about your pothos plant?

Sure! It will gladly take coffee grounds from time to time. If you have coffee filters that weren’t bleached, you can add those to the soil as well. Now, you may wonder, why use coffee grounds for houseplants at all? Well, this ingredient makes for a fantastic mulch.

Coffee grounds can also ward off snails and slugs, so it’s a good occasional treat for many houseplants. I recently published an article on that exact question,” Do Indoor Plants like Coffee Grounds?” you can read it here.

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