I have several pothos plants in my apartment, and every so often when the conditions are right I notice the leaves dripping with water; but why do pothos leaves drip water in the first place, and is it a bad sign for our plants?
Pothos leaves dripping water is – fortunately for us – completely natural. It is a process known as guttation, which is where root pressure forces water out through water glands (hydathodes) under special conditions. Your pothos may also appear to be dripping simply due to condensing water in very humid conditions, such as those near showers or baths.
If you’ve had the same concerns as me regarding your pothos leaves dripping with water then hopefully the rest of this article will put your mind at ease.
What Does Guttation Really Mean?
Plant science can get very technical, and guttation definitely falls under the category of being pretty difficult to understand. There’s also a lot of false information online about how it works, so I’ve dug into the research to give you a simplified version and what it means for your pothos.
Guttation is a term used to describe the process of water being ‘pushed’ out of the water glands on your pothos leaves.
This happens when root pressure builds up due to water accumulation within the plant as the roots absorb moisture from the soil. Usually, most of this moisture would be removed via transpiration, which is when water evaporates from aerial parts of the pothos.
Guttation occurs instead most often at night as this is when transpiration stops occurring readily as the pothos closes its stomata.
Guttation Is Not Transpiration
People sometimes refer to guttation as transpiration, but they are two different things.
Transpiration refers to the movement and evaporation of water through the leaves, stems and flowers of a plant. In the case of pothos, this would refer to the leaves and stems, given how they don’t grow flowers readily inside.
What About Condensation (Dew)?
If you have your pothos placed in a bathroom or a similar area with very high humidity at certain times, you might mistake simple condensation for guttation.
The key difference here is that condensed water comes from the environment, whereas the water produced from guttation comes from within the plant itself. This condensation is the reason for dew that forms on grass in the morning and is more likely to occur to pothos plants that are kept outdoors rather than inside.
How To Tell The Difference
If your pothos is in your bathroom check it before and after showering. Guttation usually occurs overnight, so this is an easy way to tell what is causing your pothos to drip.
Another surefire way to tell when it is condensation is to look at where the water droplets are forming. If they’re all over your pothos, stems and all, it will be caused by condensation. Guttation occurs on the leaves and not on other structures of the pothos.
Main Causes Of Dripping Pothos Leaves
If your pothos leaves start to drip water then it is usually one of two things, and in most cases, it is nothing to worry about.
If you keep your pothos in an area with high humidity this can lead to guttation over time as the moisture content of the soil increases.
The same can be said for humid climates or seasons – in the majority of cases, guttation will occur seasonally. This is completely natural, and you can counter this by reducing the amount of water that you provide for your soil.
Overwatering can obviously cause your pothos leaves to drip and is more of an issue because it can lead to other problems down the line. In extreme cases, you can kill pothos simply by overwatering.
When It Might Be An Issue
If you have your pothos in a relatively dry environment, then you can clearly rule out humidity as the reason.
In this case, guttation can be a sign to warn you that you might be overwatering your pothos. If your pothos is overwatered you will begin to notice other symptoms as well such as stunted growth, yellowing leaves and even root rot.
Guttation on its own is not an issue, but you should use it as an indication to check the soil. If the first few inches of soil are damp and sodden then it’s likely that overwatering is the underlying problem.
Should You Wipe The Droplets?
You don’t necessarily have to wipe the droplets away, but it is good practice to keep your pothos looking as good as possible.
When the droplets evaporate they can leave behind white marks on your pothos, and they can sometimes drop onto the floor as well which can leave marks behind.
So, the choice is really up to you but I personally opt to wipe them away to prevent any marks. You can also wipe the leaves to remove any dust or dirt that might’ve built up.
What Do The Droplets Contain?
It’s quite a big misconception that the water droplets contain just water.
In fact, the droplets are scientifically referred to as xylem sap and contain a number of dissolved nutrients that are carried from the soil.
This is part of the reason why they can leave behind marks on the leaves after they evaporate away, and also why many insects choose to feed from them.