Can I Cut the Roots of My Pothos? Essential Tips for Healthy Pruning

Did you know that proper root pruning can significantly improve your Pothos plant’s health and aesthetic appeal? In this blog post, we’ll answer the question, “can I cut the roots of my pothos?” and provide a comprehensive guide on how to trim Pothos roots, ensuring your plant not only survives but thrives. Get ready to learn essential tips for healthy pruning and transform your Pothos plant into a flourishing specimen.

Key Takeaways

  • Root pruning is essential for the health and aesthetic appeal of Pothos plants.

  • Carefully follow timing and procedure when cutting roots to avoid damage.

  • Monitor signs of stress after root pruning, such as yellowing leaves or wilting, to ensure plant’s well-being.

Understanding Pothos Roots and Pruning

Pothos plants, with their beautiful trailing vines and heart-shaped leaves, are an attractive plant and popular houseplant due to their low maintenance requirements and ability to thrive in various light conditions. However, regular root pruning is a key factor in maintaining the health and aesthetics of your Pothos plant.

Pothos plants have two types of roots: normal roots that grow in the soil and aerial roots that grow above the soil, helping the plant cling to surfaces and absorb humidity.

Reasons for Root Pruning

Root pruning goes beyond cosmetics; it serves as a fundamental approach to preserve your Pothos plant’s health and guard against root rot. When the plant’s roots become too crowded in the pot, they may start encircling the inside surface or even protrude through the drainage holes. This can lead to a root-bound plant and hinder its growth rate.

Regular root pruning not only maintains your propagating pothos plant’s size but also promotes healthier growth and prevents competition for nutrients and water. A twice or once-a-year root trimming, particularly during pothos propagation, can help maintain your plant’s health and vibrancy.

Types of Roots in Pothos Plants

As mentioned earlier, Pothos plants possess two types of roots: normal and aerial roots. Roots are a key part of the plant’s anatomy. They provide support, absorb vital nutrients and act as a stoage system for energy. These are the roots you’ll typically see when repotting your Pothos.

Aerial roots serve various functions as part of the plant’s root system, such as:

  • Anchoring the vines

  • Aiding in the plant’s ascent to new heights

  • Absorbing water and nutrients from the air

  • Providing support and stability

These roots grow above the soil line and can be beneficial for taking Pothos cuttings, as they help the plant adhere to surfaces and absorb humidity.

Can You Cut Pothos Roots?

Yes, Pothos roots can be cut, but it’s important to understand the correct timing and procedure to prevent harm to the plant. Root pruning is employed as a means of keeping Pothos plants at a desired size and promoting healthy growth by trimming some of the roots. When assessing which Pothos roots to trim, look for those that appear brown, mushy, or slippery, as these are indicative of unhealthy or damaged roots that should be removed to encourage the growth of new roots.

To ensure a successful root pruning, it’s essential to understand the appropriate time to cut the roots and the proper techniques to make the cut. The upcoming sections will guide you on the right time to trim Pothos roots and the proper technique to avoid plant damage.

When to Cut Pothos Roots

pothos with overgrown roots

To remove unhealthy roots and foster improved growth, Pothos roots need a trimming once or twice a year, or during repotting. Signs that Pothos roots need trimming include:

  • Long cuttings

  • Resistance when delicately pulled

  • Roots that measure at least 2 to 3 inches in length

  • Roots visible in the soil or protruding from the drainage holes

If you notice any of these signs, it may indicate that the roots require trimming.

The growth cycle of a Pothos plant also influences when roots should be cut. It’s recommended to cut the roots during the growing season, which spans from spring through summer. During this period, the plant is in its active growth phase, enhancing the chances of successful root development.

How to Properly Cut Pothos Roots

To properly cut Pothos roots, follow these steps:

  1. Use sharp, sanitized tools.

  2. Identify unhealthy roots.

  3. Make clean cuts to avoid plant damage.

  4. Ensure you have the necessary tools for pruning before you start. This includes a pair of clean, sharp scissors or pruning shears, a clean work surface, and a container for discarding any removed roots.

  5. Sanitize your cutting tools after each cut to avoid the spread of infection.

When trimming a Pothos plant, unhealthy roots can be identified by their appearance and texture. Look for roots that are brown or black in color and feel mushy or slippery to the touch. These roots may indicate root rot or damage and should be removed during pruning. Use sharp and sterilized pruning shears or scissors to make precise cuts directly across just below a node, leaving a small portion of the vine attached to the bottom of the leaf stem.

Repotting Your Pothos After Root Pruning

Repotting your Pothos after root pruning is crucial for its recovery and continued growth. Once you have properly trimmed the roots, it’s time to place your Pothos plant in a new pot with fresh soil.

The process of repotting involves choosing the right pot size, preparing the pot, and adding fresh soil to support the plant’s growth and recovery.

Choosing the Right Pot Size

Selecting a pot size for your Pothos plant requires a balance. The pot should be spacious enough for growth but not too large to avoid overwatering. The optimal pot size for a fully-grown Pothos plant is one that is slightly bigger than its current pot, providing space for growth.

Generally, it’s advised to select a pot that is 1-2 inches bigger in diameter than the current pot. This will provide ample space for the roots to extend and avoid the plant from becoming root-bound.

Preparing the Pot

To prepare the pot, ensure it is clean and free of any debris. Place broken pieces of pot or rocks at the bottom of the pot to create a layer that prevents soil from clogging the drainage holes. This step is necessary to guarantee proper drainage, a critical aspect of your Pothos plant’s health.

Adding Fresh Soil

When adding fresh soil, follow these steps:

  1. Use a high-quality potting soil mix that is both well-draining and rich in organic matter.

  2. Fill the pot with the soil, ensuring that it is filled up to the same level as the root ball.

  3. Make sure the soil penetrates all the crevices between the root ball and the sides of the container.

You may need to use a stick or trowel to maneuver around the edges of the pot to ensure that all the gaps are filled.

Caring for Your Pothos Plant After Root Pruning

Once you’ve effectively pruned and repotted your Pothos plant, providing proper care becomes vital to its recovery and overall well-being. In the following sections, we’ll discuss crucial care aspects such as watering, fertilizing, and monitoring for signs of stress.

Watering Guidelines

Watering your Pothos plant:

  • After repotting, water generously to facilitate recovery.

  • For the next few weeks, maintain consistent hydration by watering when the top 1-3 inches of the soil is almost entirely dry.

  • Use water at room temperature to avoid shocking the roots or scalding the plant with hot water.

Generally, a Pothos plant should be watered once every 1-2 weeks.

Fertilizing Your Pothos Plant

To supply the necessary nutrients for growth and recovery, it’s crucial to fertilize your Pothos plant. Here’s how:

  1. Use a balanced, water-soluble fertilizer containing nitrogen, phosphorus, and potassium.

  2. Apply the fertilizer on a monthly basis during the growing season.

  3. To prevent burning the plant, use half of the recommended amount of fertilizer.

Monitoring for Signs of Stress

Keep a close eye on your Pothos plant for signs of stress, which can affect the plant’s growth rate, such as:

  • Yellowing leaves

  • Wilting

  • Sluggish growth

  • Droopy appearance

If you notice any of these symptoms, adjust your care routine accordingly to ensure a healthy recovery.

Remember, after root pruning, your root pruned Pothos plant’s health and well-being rely heavily on appropriate care and attention.


In this blog post, we’ve covered essential tips and guidelines for trimming Pothos roots, repotting, and providing proper care for a thriving, healthy plant. By understanding the importance of root pruning, recognizing when and how to cut Pothos roots, and following proper care guidelines, you can ensure your Pothos plant flourishes and maintains its attractive appearance. With consistent care and attention, your Pothos plant will continue to grow and thrive, becoming a beautiful addition to your indoor or outdoor space.

Frequently Asked Questions

Can you cut pothos root?

Yes, you can cut pothos root as long as the roots are kept to about half an inch to an inch long. This will ensure that the plant is able to develop and thrive properly.

Should I cut roots when repotting pothos?

Yes, it is recommended to cut away some of the roots when repotting pothos. If you’re using the same pot again, you should loosen the thick roots with your fingers or cut them off, and cut away about 25% of the roots.

Does cutting roots hurt a plant?

Root pruning, when done properly, can actually improve the growth and health of a plant and doesn’t necessarily hurt it. However, cutting roots may feel barbaric and harm the plant if not done properly.

What tools should I use for root pruning?

For root pruning, clean and sharp scissors or pruning shears should be used to ensure proper cutting of Pothos roots.

How can I identify unhealthy roots when trimming my Pothos plant?

When trimming your Pothos plant, identify unhealthy roots by their discoloration (brown or black) and soft texture. Removing any damaged roots is essential for promoting healthy growth.


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