Pruning Pothos Plants: How To Trim Pothos Vines

Epipremnum aureum (commonly known as pothos) is one of the most popular houseplants.

Pruning the vines of a pothos plantPin

Its appearance is like Philodendron, and the two are often confused.

Pothos plants:

  • Are easy to care for
  • Face minimal disease and pest problems
  • Have few soil and water requirements.

All Pothos types grow best in USDA hardiness zones 10 to 11. Still, they are more commonly grown indoors due to their ability to adapt to varying degrees of light, even fluorescent lighting, earning it the nickname “devil’s ivy.”

There are dozens of pothos species and cultivars available. Some of the most common include:

How Do You Prune Pothos?

As a general rule, pothos does not need a lot of maintenance to look great. But, there are a few times you want to prune your plant. These reasons include:

  • Shaping
  • Growth regulation
  • Revitalization
  • Pest and disease control
  • Cutting vines for propagation

The best time to prune is during its growing season so new growth can come in quickly.

  • Use sterile tools and wear gloves to avoid possible skin irritation.
  • Make cuts beneath leaf nodes (where roots start) when planning to propagate.
  • Dispose of any diseased cuttings to avoid further contamination.

Methods of Pruning Pothos Houseplant

While the procedure is the same, the reasons for trimming and pruning may need some minor variations.

Proper Care Starts With Pruning for Shape

As with many plants, pothos can be pruned for compact growth, to grow thicker and more robust.

This is especially useful because plants can become leggy and get too long.

Pruning for Size

Pothos can reach 50′ feet in the wild, but domestic plants are much shorter. But,

the “branches” can still get pretty long and may even start becoming leggy if not pruned back.

Pruning a hanging pothos is useful if you’re worried a pet may be able to reach it, as the plant is toxic if ingested.

Pruning to Revitalize

Once your pothos has been around as an indoor plant for a few years, it may begin to get leggy or develop a lot of bare spots.

It is possible to prune back pothos stems as far back as about 2” inches from the soil. This drastic pruning allows the plant to regrow as if it were a young plant again.

Propagating Pothos

Cuttings make the best method for creating more pothos plants. Adjust your pruning methods to develop some good cuttings while you’re at it is a snap. Start Pothos stems in water or potting soil.

Related: How To Propagate Pothos

The Pruning Method

Regardless of why you plan to prune a pothos, the steps are easy and are adjusted as you go.

  • Sterilize your pruning shears or sharp scissors and put on some protective gloves to avoid possible skin irritation.
  • Some like to move their pothos to a shady spot to prune. It ensures no pets are tempted when pruning the greenery. It also keeps any sap from “bleeding” onto furniture or fabrics.
  • Decide how far you need to prune. Propagation and revitalization need more specific lengths. Shaping or shortening is a matter of personal preference.
  • Take the stems and examine them as you prune. Remove any diseased stems or stems that have lost most or all of their leaves.
  • In the case of diseased stems – Dispose of them immediately. Avoid bringing the shears in contact with healthy vines until you’ve sterilized them again.
  • As you move to the healthy stems, sterilize your shears (if needed) and decide how far back you wish to prune.
  • When you find the spot, measure about ¼” inch above the nearest leaf and make your cut. Note that cuttings used for propagation should have at least four healthy leaves on them.
  • Repeat the process for every stem until you’re satisfied.
  • Place the plant back in its usual indirect light once the wounds have dried.

Pruning Pothos to Combat Disease or Infestation

Whether your original idea was to get rid of an infection or infestation, or you noticed one as you pruned the pothos for other reasons, you will want to practice some additional care in removing the affected parts.

In the case of an insect infestation. Before pruning begins consider cleaning or spraying the plant with:

  • Rubbing alcohol solution
  • Neem oil
  • Insecticidal soap

Be sure to spray the undersides of leaves and any nooks or crannies. Keep an eye out for possible escapees.

As you prune, try to isolate the weak stems from the healthy ones. Cut stems back far enough to remove all traces of the infection.

Dispose of any diseased cutting immediately. Avoid letting it come into contact with healthy foliage.

You may want to sterilize your shears after each cut. This isn’t necessary until you begin work on healthy limbs.

After you finish pruning, move the plant and sterilize the work surface with a rubbing alcohol solution.

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