How to Prune a Pothos

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How to Prune a Pothos
Pothos is an easy-care houseplant that can grow extensive vines. (Jupiterimages/Goodshoot/Getty Images)

Pothos, or devil's ivy, is an easily adaptable plant that tolerates a wide range of indoor growing conditions. Pothos (Epipremnum aureum) will grow in low light or direct sun, cool or warm rooms, in tabletop planters and hanging baskets, and twining up totem supports. Its large heart-shaped leaves range from a solid green colour to green with white, yellow, or cream-coloured streaks. If not trimmed regularly, pothos sends out vines that can span an entire room, attaching itself to whatever surface its root knobs come into contact with.

Skill level:
Easy

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Things you need

  • Pruning shears or scissors
  • Newspaper
  • Isopropyll alcohol
  • Cotton swab

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Instructions

  1. 1

    Place the pothos plant on several thicknesses of newspaper. Select the vines you want to trim, and unravel them carefully from the main plant.

  2. 2

    Trace the vines you are trimming down to the soil line, and carefully cut them at a point about 2 inches from the soil. Cut at a point just above a leaf so as not to create an unsightly leafless stem.

  3. 3

    Continue trimming the vines until the plant starts to take on the desired shape, as pruning will promote more compact and bushier growth. Inspect the plant for mealy bugs, a common pest of pothos, which appear as a white fuzz under the leaves.

  4. 4

    Treat mealy bugs, if necessary, on the leaves that remain on the plant by rubbing them off with an alcohol-soaked cotton swab. Trim off and dispose of any other discoloured leaves or stems.

  5. 5

    Cut the long healthy vines that you pruned off into sections containing one root knob, as they can easily be rooted in water or soil as new plants.

Tips and warnings

  • Large pothos plants are actually made up of several cuttings that have been rooted in soil. This makes good use of the cuttings, as they can be transplanted into more attractive pots and given as gifts.
  • Prune your pothos regularly to keep it full and well-shaped.
  • Pothos vines can attach themselves to walls and other solid surfaces, causing damage when you remove them.
  • Pothos plants also occasionally drip water from the ends of their leaves, so be sure to set the pots on some kind of protective tray or mat to prevent damaging furniture.
  • According to North Carolina State University, all parts of the pothos plant are poisonous if eaten in large amounts, and can cause severe mouth pain; burning and swelling of the lips, mouth, tongue and throat; and may also cause diarrhoea. Frequent contact with the plant can also cause minor skin irritations in some individuals. In case of exposure or ingestion, call the National Poison Control Center at 1-800-222-1222.

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