How To Trim Philodendrons [8 Easy Steps]

Philodendrons make excellent indoor plants because of their adaptability. They adapt quickly to changing water conditions and lighting, allowing them to thrive both inside and outside the home. However, philodendrons need trimming periodically to prevent the plant from growing too tall and bushy.

Here is how to trim your philodendron plants in 8 easy steps:

  1. Sanitize the scissors.
  2. Analyze the philodendron.
  3. Trim the dead parts.
  4. Cut the damaged or unhealthy parts.
  5. Trim the excess growth.
  6. Trimming to propagate.
  7. Disinfect the tools after.
  8. Water the philodendron.

Keep reading this article for a comprehensive explanation of these steps. They will help you tame your philodendrons and prevent them from growing bigger than you like.

1. Sanitize the Scissors

The first step you should follow before trimming your philodendron plants is to sanitize the scissors. This is a crucial step because it prevents pathogens from spreading from the cutting tool to the plant.

Usually, scissors and knives that have been lying idle or used elsewhere carry microorganisms that can destroy the plant tissue and hamper its healthy growth if in contact.

Therefore, use a strong, high-quality ethanol or isopropyl disinfectant to kill the pathogens present on the scissors or trimming knife before beginning the trimming process.

If you want to purchase a quality disinfectant I recommend the Solimo 99% Isopropyl Alcohol For Technical Use (available on It is an effective cleaning disinfectant designed to kill 99% of the pathogens on your scissors. You can also use your regular household disinfectants such as Pine-sol and Lysol.

Always ensure you wear protective gear when using these disinfectants because they are not intended for use on the skin. You should also avoid intentionally or accidentally ingesting disinfectants. Therefore, avoid eating, drinking, or smoking when sanitizing your scissors.

2. Analyze the Philodendron

Once you’re done sanitizing your scissors, you’ll need to analyze the philodendron. Remember, your area’s climate may influence your philodendron’s health. For example, philodendrons grow best in states classified in zones 9 to 12, including Florida, California, Utah, and Hawaii.

Analyzing the plant enables you to determine which parts require trimming to maintain its health. When analyzing your philodendrons, check for infected or dying foliage, leggy vines and stems, and nodes promoting new growth.

Usually, many people focus on the importance of removing unhealthy and damaged plant parts.

Primarily focusing on unhealthy and dead plant parts alone often causes you to overlook the healthy parts. Identifying the healthy plant parts during your analysis is also important to ensure you do not inadvertently cut off healthy plant parts.

Therefore, always ensure you distinguish between healthy, unhealthy, and dead plant parts before you start trimming the philodendron. Also, check the plant for overgrown leaves because the length of philodendron leaves usually varies depending on present conditions and lighting.

3. Trim the Dead Parts

After you have distinguished between healthy, unhealthy, and dead plant parts, the next step is to trim the dead parts. These include any dead philodendron leaves and stems affected by diseases like root rot.

Trimming dead plant parts is crucial because they possess decaying matter which attracts insects and pests. Usually, pests and insects prefer the dry matter from decaying plant parts.

Once the pests take over the dead leaves and stem, they migrate and infect the remaining healthy plant parts. This causes the plant to develop diseases, wither, and die. Ensure you remove all dead plant parts to avoid infecting the rest of the plant.

Another reason you should trim dead plant parts from your philodendron is to improve its aesthetic appeal. Dead plant parts are usually discolored and bear a distinct color from healthy plant parts.

This causes your philodendron plant to look less appealing because of the contrast between healthy green leaves and unhealthy and dead yellow leaves.

You can easily remove the dead leaves by trimming them with your scissors or knife. For the rotten stems, you may need to pull them out of the soil instead of trimming them for a more effective approach. Always ensure you dispose of these dead plant parts properly after trimming them.

It is advisable to wear gloves when trimming your philodendron. Gloves reduce the risk of injuring yourself or being scratched by the cut stalks.

4. Cut the Damaged or Unhealthy Parts

After removing the dead plant parts, use your scissors to trim the damaged and unhealthy plant parts. Unlike dead plant parts which affect philodendrons by attracting harmful pests, unhealthy and damaged parts do so by spreading the infection to other parts. This causes plants to wither and die even in the absence of pests.

Therefore, ensure you remove any plant parts exhibiting unhealthy symptoms such as wilting, discoloration, and browning leaves. You should also snip off any dry and crispy leaves. This improves the plant’s health and enhances its overall look while making way for new growth.

Always trim all unhealthy and damaged plant parts if you want your philodendron plant to remain healthy and look nice.

Other signs to watch out for include white powdery growth on the philodendron’s leaves, dropping leaves, abnormal color patterns, and brown splotches. You can also monitor your plant for abnormal and unexpected growth behavior based on your past observations.

5. Trim the Excess Growth

Your next step after removing the unhealthy and damaged parts is to trim the excess growth. Philodendron plants are very adaptable and responsive to prevailing conditions and light. Although necessary, adequate lighting and proper conditions can cause the leaves and stem to grow past your liking.

For instance, if you have philodendrons as indoor plants you probably do not want them to grow past a particular height. You may also want to check the growth of the leaves to avoid having bushy plants in the home.

When trimming philodendron plants to remove excess growth, you should also try to encourage new growth. Although it sounds counterproductive it can make a world of difference.

Cutting the plant right before a leaf node encourages the plant to flower and produce fresh and better-looking leaves. For excessive growth of stems, try to cut as close to the main stem as possible for the best results.

You can use the trimmed leaves as mulch or compost. However, ensure you only use the leaves you trimmed because of excess growth. Damaged or infected philodendron leaves risk infecting other healthy leaves.

6. Trim To Propagate

Usually, people trim their philodendrons to maintain their health and improve their looks. However, you can also trim to propagate. This is the process of cutting the root or stem from another plant and using it to grow another similar plant.

If you are interested in growing a new philodendron from your current through cutting propagation you must select one with healthy vines and stems. Using an unhealthy philodendron plant will likely result in a poor and unhealthy plant or failure to grow ultimately.

In addition to choosing a healthy philodendron plant, you must also apply the correct trimming procedure. Ensure the stem you trim from your philodendron is 3 to 6 inches (7.62-15.24 cm) long. You should also make the cut above a leaf when trimming.

Place the cut stem in the soil and keep it in a spot with indirect sunlight for proper growth of the roots.

7. Disinfect the Tools

Caring for your tools is essential if you want them to last long. It is also important if you want to preserve your plant’s health. Ultimately, well-maintained tools are more effective in trimming and maintaining a plant’s health. Always disinfect the scissors or knives you used after finishing the trimming process.

Doing this also protects the tools by preventing rusting. It minimizes the cleaning and disinfecting work required the next time trimming.

Furthermore, remember to wear protective gear when using disinfectant for safety. Leave the tools clean in readiness for the next time you will trim the plant.

8. Water the Philodendron

It is essential to water your philodendron regularly, especially after trimming. This is because the plant is usually in a recovery period and thus requires water. However, you should also be careful not to over-water your philodendron plant. One way to tell your philodendron plant is overwatered is when the leaves start turning yellow.

Additionally, you should apply the correct watering technique for the best results. Usually, there are two methods to water house plants. You can water them from the top or bottom.

The best approach for philodendron plants is to water them from the bottom before switching to the top after six weeks. Using both methods in this way flushes salt and other ions from the water that have leached into the soil thus improving the growing conditions.

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Final Thoughts

One of the golden rules of trimming philodendrons is you should not do it if it is not necessary, and a good trimming job should never take away from the plant’s appearance. Therefore, whenever you choose to trim your philodendron, always use the correct steps as outlined above.

Trimming your philodendron plants is beneficial if it looks long and leggy or is taking up more space than you intended. Lastly, always disinfect your scissors or knives before trimming your philodendron plant to avoid infecting it.

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