How to trim pothos or devil’s ivy

Image of a sprawling pothos plant

Pothos is a fast-growing, pretty houseplant that has a beautiful variegated pattern. It’s also surprisingly undemanding – it can take all brightness levels, it needs very little water, and it’s happy enough without fertilizer. It’s also very easy to propagate using cuttings. It grows quickly, and is ideal for placing on high areas, from where it can drape down and create a dramatic effect.

Now, let’s give that wild child a haircut.

While trimming a pothos plant, keep three golden rules in mind:

  1. Concentrate on the unhealthy or straggly branches.
  2. Try not to cut more than one-third of the plant, and
  3. Cut between leaf nodes – i.e., between two leaves

These golden rules are, by and large, all you need to know. Pothos tends to be a hardy plant, so it can take a fair bit of abuse. Feel free to ignore one or more rules if you must. Just remember to cut the stem, not the leaves*.

After trimming the plant, place it in a bright place (so the new growth doesn’t grow leggy in its search for light), and give it some fertilizer. Just give it some pee. I’m serious, they thrive on the stuff.

Some people (like me, a few years ago) don’t trim their houseplants. If it’s pretty and not out of control, then that’s alright, right? Nope. Plants need a haircut just as much as you do – in fact, if you want them to look their best, they need it rather more.

If your pothos has long, thick branches, that’s a sure sign that it needs a trim. A healthy, fast-growing pothos will have thin, delicate-looking branches (0.5 cm or so thick), and a lot of new growth. On average, a pothos plant will need to be trimmed every 3 months.


*A little anecdote. One of my neighbours, a lovely lady, apparently decided her fancy grasses needed a haircut. She had 4 pots full of them and they were old plants, so she was right. So what did she do? She went ahead and gave them an actual haircut – human style. Yup, she cut the leaves in half. It looks as funny as you’d think.

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