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How to Prune Philodendrons (And the Benefits of Trimming)

How to Prune Philodendrons (And the Benefits of Trimming)

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Cutting back or pruning is beneficial to most plants, even for philodendrons. It helps get rid of wilted stems and makes room for new ones to emerge.

Furthermore, one mustn’t simply know how to prune philodendrons. You must also do it properly to promote healthy growth by cutting at the base with a sterile tool.

Additionally, there are many factors to consider, such as timing and aftercare, to ensure successful pruning.

Are you interested in learning more? Then, let’s begin.

How to Prune Philodendrons

Here’s how to prune your philodendrons correctly.

Prep the Pruning Equipment

  1. Ready your pruning tools: it could be a pair of scissors, shears, or knives.
  2. Disinfect by wiping off the blades with a clean piece of cloth and rubbing alcohol.
  3. For your safety, it’s best to wear a pair of gloves during the process and discard them properly afterward.

Pick the Longest Stems

  1. Cut the longest stem along the soil line
  2. When choosing stems to cut, pick the longest ones as they’re usually the oldest.
  3. If your intention for pruning is propagation, you may cut approximately 3 to 6 inches long from a robust stem. Be sure that it has a few healthy leaves to ensure viability.

Cut the Wilted Leaves

  1. Sometimes, you’ll find yellow leaves on a healthy stem. You may cut them off as well.
  2. When snipping yellow leaves, do so right at the point where the petiole connects to the main stem.

Feed the Soil

  1. After removing unwanted stems and leaves, add compost to the soil and water the mother plant so that your plant can recover efficiently.

When to Prune Philodendrons

It’s generally safe to trim philodendrons all year round. That said, here are a few signs that tell you it’s time for pruning.

When They’re Becoming Leggy

While it’s normal for philodendrons to grow due to their aerial roots, growing leggy can be unsightly. You can fix this by removing elongated stems.

Make sure that you relocate your plant to a brighter location afterward, so that it can avoid the same condition in the future.

If the Leaves or Stems Start to Yellow

After the stem or leaf is spent, it will naturally turn yellow as part of its growth cycle. In this case, there isn’t much you can do but prune, since the stem will eventually wither, anyway.

Moreover, a stem reaches an age where it stops growing leaves for good. If you notice this, it’s also a sign for you to prune that stem as well.

When They’re Too Long

You may trim your philodendron according to your liking. It could be to match your room aesthetics, or so that the plant could fit in a small pot.

So, if you think that it’s too long, then, by all means, cut away. Just make sure that you follow the procedure above for the best results.

Can Philodendrons Be Pruned? – The Benefits of Cutting Back

Yes, you can definitely cut back philodendrons, so don’t worry as this won’t harm them. On the contrary, pruning brings a lot of benefits to your plants.

Take a look.

Promotes New Growth

You must be wondering how exactly cutting off stems makes a plant healthier. It’s through cutting down on competition.

Stems and leaves, regardless of age and condition, compete for water and soil nutrients. This is why it’s better to remove the oldest stems, which are nearing the end of their natural life.

By doing this, you’re leaving enough nourishment for your plant to encourage new growth. After pruning, you can expect your philodendron to reward you with tiny, new leaves in a few weeks.

Prevents the Negative Effects of Overcrowding

You’ll notice that overcrowded pots of philodendrons have more yellow leaves and stems than regularly-trimmed ones. In such cases, even juvenile stems could start yellowing earlier than expected.

The reason for this is that the younger leaves, which are found in the inner part of the bunch, may not be getting enough light. Thus, pruning helps give every leaf a chance to bask in the brightness and make its food.

Prevents the Development of Mold and Bacteria

A congested pot could collect water at the base and attract bacteria. If this happens, it could lead to plant diseases like root rot.

This could be fatal for your philodendron as the damage starts from the roots. In such cases, the problem is already severe the moment you find out about it.

The obvious signs of root rot may include premature yellowing, black or brown spots on leaves, and limp stems. The damage is commonly at the bottom stems and leaves closest to the ground.

This can be fixed, though, by repotting your philodendron as soon as possible. However, before transferring to different of soil, you’ll need to wash the roots, remove the infected parts, and treat them with an organic fungicide.

Some of the main causes of root rot are the virus Rhizoctonia solani and Phytophthora.

Makes Plant Look More Presentable

Philodendrons rarely bloom, especially indoors. This is why they’re more celebrated for their foliage than their flowers.

As such, healthy philodendrons reward their keepers with dark green leaves and firm stems. Moreover, these flowering plants could grow leggy if not pruned properly.

The legging is a result of insufficient light, which is characterized by leaves growing 10 to 15 inches apart. This could make the philodendron less attractive besides being a symptom of poor plant health.

Also, we recommend cutting on the nodes to prevent unsightly stubs in random places on the stem.

Opportunity to Propagate

Cuttings from pruning may be re-planted for propagation, as long as there are at least three leaves in a single stem. Who doesn’t want more philodendrons, anyway?

Remember, though, that this will only work with healthy stems. On the other hand, you may discard yellow or wilted stems.

Additional Tips on Pruning Philodendrons

Pruning is done for a reason, hence, you’d want to do it right. That said, here are more tips that will help you successfully achieve the purpose of pruning.

Prune Only As Much As Necessary

Don’t trim more than 20% at a time as this could stress out your philodendrons. Otherwise, it might take longer for your plant to grow back.

Remember that the leaves are responsible for photosynthesis, so leave enough greens for the plant to recover properly.

Disinfect Your Tools

Disinfecting your pruning tools is important in inhibiting the spread of diseases. Even if the plant appears to be healthy, you must disinfect it between cuttings and before putting the tool away.

To do this, you’ll only need a clean piece of cloth and some rubbing alcohol. Wiping off the knife or scissors after cutting should take care of the problem.

There’s no need to soak your shears in rubbing alcohol.

Feed Plant After Pruning

Pruning could be stressful for the plant, too. Therefore, after trimming your philodendron, apply high-quality compost to the soil and water it.

By feeding your plant, you’re helping it recuperate and grow back in better shape.

Dispose of Trimmings Properly

Organic matter may be good for the soil, but it’s not ideal to leave cuttings in the plant to rot indoors. Without enough light and ventilation, the decaying matter could attract pests and bacteria, which may not end well for your plants.

Additionally, this could also pose a threat to the occupants in the home, including pets.

The best practice would be to throw the cuttings into the compost bin.

Then, put only high-quality compost into the pot or plant box. You’ll know this if the compost has the following qualities:

  • Dark, almost black brown
  • Has an earthy odor, no foul
  • Has sufficient water retention, but no clay-like consistency
  • Loose enough for good aeration
  • Does not attract maggots or flies

Final Thoughts

Pruning isn’t as complicated as you might think. Besides, it’s a foolproof method to get weak philodendrons to grow back healthier.

You don’t need to worry about making a mistake because more often than not, you can’t go wrong with pruning. Moreover, this type of plant is resilient, so it’ll be up and perky in a week after trimming.

So, keep a tab on this guide on how to prune philodendrons if you want your plants to grow lush and free of disease.

Before you go: Now is the perfect time to start tracking your gardening progress, and I created a garden journal to do exactly that. Click the image below to see it in action and to get your own copy.

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