Can You Cut Back Philodendrons: Tips On Pruning A Philodendron Plant

By Mary H. Dyer, Master Naturalist and Master Gardener

Can you cut back philodendrons? Yes, you sure can. Although they don’t require a lot of pruning, occasionally cutting back philodendron plants keeps these beauties looking their tropical best and keeps them from becoming too large for their surroundings. Here are a few general guidelines for cutting back philodendron plants.

Pruning Philodendron Plants

One rule of thumb: If you aren’t sure your plant needs pruning, wait. Pruning a philodendron shouldn’t be done if it isn’t really necessary, and a good pruning job should never detract from the overall appearance of the plant. In other words, your work really shouldn’t be noticeable.

Cutting back philodendron plants is beneficial if the plant is taking up too much space in the room, or if the plant looks long and leggy. This type of pruning is best done in spring or fall. You can safely give your philodendron a light trim any time of year to remove yellowing leaves and trim spindly growth.

Before pruning philodendron plants, you’ll want to sterilize pruning tools. This simple but all-important step takes seconds and helps prevent spread of disease-causing bacteria that may affect the health of your philodendron.

To sterile pruning tools, remove any mud or debris, then simply give the tools a quick dip in a solution of nine parts household bleach to one part water. Bleach can be corrosive, so rinse tools in clear water after they’re sterilized. Alternatively, wipe tools with regular rubbing alcohol, which is effective and not as corrosive as bleach.

How to Trim Philodendrons

Cut off the longest, oldest stems, or any stems that are leggy or have a lot of yellowing or dead leaves. In some cases, very old stems may be completely leafless.

Make cuts using a sharp, sterile knife, scissors or pruning shears, cutting where the stem meets the main part of the plant. If you can’t see where the base of the stem connects, cut the stem at soil level.

If your philodendron is the vining type, use pruning shears or simply pinch the tips of vines. This quickie type of pruning will neaten up the plant and encourage bushier, healthier growth. Always cut or pinch growth just above a leaf node, which is the point on a stem where a new leaf or stem grows. Otherwise, you’ll be left with a lot of unsightly stubs.

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