How to Prune Pothos Plants (Essential Tips)

Pruning houseplants is not something many enthusiasts place on their to-do list. But it is an important part of Pothos plant care that shouldn’t be neglected. Whether you’re pruning to keep your Pothos in a particular shape or to improve their overall health, this guide will tell you everything you need to know about keeping these symbolic plants in tip-top shape. 

How to Prune Pothos Plants (Essential Tips)

Pruning Pothos Plants – The Essentials

Prune pothos plants in spring or early summer to ensure quick healing and regrowth. Always ensure your tools are clean before use to avoid spreading disease and bacteria. Trim above a node, leaving it on the stem, rather than between two nodes for healthy regrowth. Ensure your Pothos is placed in the right conditions to make the healing process easier.

Pruning, Plant Health and Growth

Pruning, Plant Health and Growth

Pruning is an essential gardening skill every plant owner should learn. Some plants need to be pruned more often and rely on it for growth, while others just need a basic clean-up now and then to look their best.

For Pothos plants, there are several reasons to prune, depending on the age of your plant and its life cycle:


Pothos plants are quick growers with long vines that can grow well over 10 inches within a month. This means they will quickly outgrow the tidy shape you bought them in. Pruning can help manage their shape and size, depending on what kind of growth you’re looking for.

If you want your Pothos to be compact and bushy, pruning frequently will keep the leaves closer together and will encourage constant new growth. This trim will also stop the stems from becoming too long and unruly, limiting the plant to a more manageable size.

Those looking for long trailing vines several feet long can also use pruning to their advantage. By pruning away smaller or lower-performing stems, you can direct all the plant’s energy into producing the longest, healthiest vines possible.

Encouraging New Growth

It may seem counterproductive to chop off parts of your plants to make them grow bigger, but that is exactly what pruning does.

Pruning correctly by removing sections of the plant in the right spot creates open wounds that the plant works to heal. These open wounds produce hormones that trigger the plant to produce new growth, making your plants grow bigger and stronger.

However, to achieve this benefit, you need to ensure you prune correctly. If you prune in the wrong place or remove too much of the plant at one time, it can harm growth rather than a positive one.

Growth Expectations

Pothos plants are quick growers, especially in comparison with other houseplants. Most types will grow between 12-18 inches per month when conditions are right, and the vines can grow several feet long if left unpruned.

The trailing vines will continue to grow more extended year after year if the stems are not trimmed. If growth slows, pruning at the right time can kickstart new development to make the plant grow faster.



Pruning is not always about the existing plant. It can also be helpful to create brand new pothos plants through propagation.

Pruning away the ends of longer stems allows you to turn those cuttings into new Pothos plants. Simply root the cutting in water or soil and wait a few weeks for new roots to grow.

As long as you don’t remove too much of the plant at one time, you can continue pruning to propagate as your plant continues to grow. When done correctly, this will also make the parent plant bushier and healthier overall.

Maintaining Health

The most vital benefit of pruning, particularly for Pothos plants, is maintaining good plant health.

Depending on the conditions your plants are grown in, they may face growing problems such as yellowing leaves, dropping leaves, damaged stems, or issues with pests and diseases. Pruning can help manage these problems and prevent their spread while you resolve the source of the issue.

A Pothos with yellowing leaves or damaged stems will direct energy into saving parts of the plant that are doing more harm than good. You can redirect the energy toward producing new and healthy growth rather than keeping damaged growth on the plant by pruning these sections away.

Are All Types of Pothos Plant Suitable for Pruning?

Are All Types of Pothos Plant Suitable for Pruning?

Since all Pothos plants have similar growth habits, they are all candidates for pruning, depending on what you want to achieve.

Pruning to remove damaged leaves or stems is suitable for all plants, no matter the type, as it will benefit growth more than harm. But pruning for shaping or to encourage new growth may differ depending on your Pothos type.

Slow-growing Pothos plants require more careful pruning to avoid shock. These include the heavily variegated cultivars like Snow Queen or N’Joy. As it takes these plants longer to bounce back, pruning too much can expose them to growth problems or issues with disease as the open wounds take longer to heal.

Quicker growing Pothos types can handle a heavier prune without too many risks. The wounds heal quickly, and growth comes back more robust in the more common types, such as the popular Golden Pothos.

Be careful when pruning rare Pothos types too. Rare or hybridized cultivars often struggle to regain pre-pruning growth if over-pruned. It’s best to stay on the safe side with these types and prune as little as possible.

What’s the Best Time of Year to Prune Pothos Plants?

What’s the Best Time of Year to Prune Pothos Plants?

Pruning at the right time is vital to the health of your plants. It should always be done during the peak of the growing season to ensure wounds heal as quickly as possible and the plant has the energy to put out new growth.

Pothos plants can be pruned from spring to summer. It’s best to prune when the plant is in conditions it prefers, so avoid excessively hot or cold periods. Avoid pruning in winter (unless there are immediate issues with pests and diseases) as your Pothos will likely face shock and struggle to heal.

What Are the Essential Tools for Pruning Pothos Plants?

What Are the Essential Tools for Pruning Pothos Plants?

All you need is a sharp pair or pruning shears or regular scissors to get started. Pothos stems are not difficult to cut and should be removed easily if your scissors are sharp enough.

Before making any cuts, ensure you clean your shears thoroughly to avoid transferring any diseases or bacteria from previous use.

If you want to propagate after pruning, keep a glass or pot nearby for quick planting and rooting in water or soil.

When, and Where Should You Prune Pothos Plants?

When, and Where Should You Prune Pothos Plants?

Pruning can be done at any time during spring and summer, but early spring is best to take advantage of the rapid growth during that period. Your plant should be well-watered and healthy before pruning to ensure no issues with shock or regrowth.

How you prune will depend on what you wish to achieve.

Pruning for Pothos Health

To prune for overall plant health, start by trimming off any yellowing, brown, or dried-up leaves. Remove the leaves at the node, but make sure you don’t damage the node to allow new growth to emerge.

When trimming damaged or diseased stems, always cut back to the healthy part of the stem and not right where the problem is occurring. This will allow new healthy growth to spur from that point without carrying the problem to other parts of the plant.

When pruning, always cut above a leaf node – the bump in the stems where leaves emerge. The new parts of the stem will grow from this point, so they should be left on the plant for quick regrowth.

Pruning for New Growth

When trimming to encourage new growth, snip about an inch or two off the end of each stem at this same point above a node. If the trailing vines are very long, you can cut off larger sections to split and propagate separately, leaving the parent plant neat and compact.

Technical Concerns

Don’t cut at a point between two nodes or too close to a node. Cutting too far away will kill off the remaining part of the stem and stunt growth. Cutting too close to the node can damage it too, preventing any regrowth from that point.

How Do You Shape Pothos Plants?

How Do You Shape Pothos Plants?

Pruning is also helpful in controlling the shape and size of your Pothos. The technique you choose will depend on your desired look.

Pruning for Compact, Bushy Growth

If you want to keep your Pothos short and bushy, pruning frequently is essential. Once the vines extend past the bottom of the pot, trim about an inch or two off the ends above a node, depending on how long you want the vines to be.

Make sure you compare the lengths of each vine and cut accordingly. This will keep each stem the same length the whole way around, keeping the size balanced and compact.

To maintain this shape, frequently rotate your plant to ensure one side does not get more light than the other. This will stop some vines from growing faster than others, making your next shaping prune far easier to complete.

Pruning for Long Vines

Thanks to the stunning look of the long, trailing vines, you may want to encourage them to grow even longer. If your Pothos is in a hanging basket and you’re looking for that urban jungle look, this is the way to go.

To keep the vines long and luscious, prune away any underperforming or branching stems that won’t compromise the plant’s balance and overall look. This will direct the energy to make the dominant stems longer rather than branch out.

You can also give your Pothos something to climb, encouraging long upward growth. As these plants grow up tree trunks in their natural habitats, they will grow longer vines when trained up a trellis or nearby structure.

Caring for Your Post Pruned Pothos Plants

Caring for Your Post Pruned Pothos Plants

Keep your Pothos well-watered in a moisture-retentive soil mix after pruning to ensure it faces no stress while it is trying to heal. Make sure temperatures remain between 65F and 85F for quick healing and optimal growth, and locate in a room with plenty of bright, indirect light.

It’s also a good idea to fertilize your pothos plant after pruning if you haven’t recently throughout the growing season. Feed with a balanced liquid fertilizer to give the plant an extra growth boost at the perfect time. You’ll also want to consider repotting your pothos once it’s nearly outgrown the current potting vessel.

Wrap Up

Pruning can be a technical and tedious task. Luckily, with a Pothos, it’s as simple as snipping a few stems. When you prune at the right time and in the right way, your plant will come back happier and stronger than ever.

For more, see our in-depth guide on whether pothos plants are pet friendly.

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