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How to Get a Pothos Plant to Branch in 6 Steps

How to Get a Pothos Plant to Branch in 6 Steps

I still recall when I first had pothos plants. I got two pothos and had read that you could grow them to either be more vine-like or bushier like a mini tree or shrub, and I wanted one of each.

Let’s just say my first attempts at growing a bushy and full pothos, also called a devil’s ivy or money plant did not go as planned. But you can and should learn from these mistakes.


How to Get a Pothos Plant to Branch

Getting your pothos plant with its beautiful heart-shaped leaves to branch and become full and bushy requires proper care and regular pruning. Ensure your devil’s ivy gets the right amount of humidity, water, light, and warmth. Also, feed it a balanced fertilizer twice a month. Offer support and encourage growth by staking your pothos.


6 Steps to Get Your Pothos to Branch

Follow these steps to get your pothos to have a fuller appearance and branch instead of looking leggy and thin or vine-like:


Step 1: Prune Correctly

To get my pothos to branch and grow fuller, I had to start pruning it regularly. But that also meant I have to prune correctly.

To prune your pothos correctly, follow these steps:

  1. Take a few steps back and look at your pothos as a whole plant. This step becomes even more important once your plant grows bushier.
  2. Mark the vines you want to cut. You can use colored elastics or plastic ties. Just ensure you don’t damage the stems when you mark them.
  3. Only plan to prune about ⅓ of the total stems and foliage. You can rather prune less, see how your plant grows, and then prune some more.
  4. Clean the blade or shears you will be cutting with and ensure it is sharp to make swift, clean cuts.
  5. Cut the stem about ¼ of an inch above the leaf or just below the leaf node.
  6. Remove any vines that have no leaves and any that are starting to trail downward.


Step 2: Support Your Pothos

I also staked my pothos plant to offer it more support. You may wonder how staking the plant helps.

Well, when you stake a trailing plant like a pothos you offer it support, encouraging the plant to grow bigger leaves closer together.

It’s best to start staking your devil’s ivy when it is still young; it is a long-term solution to help your plant grow fuller.

What can you stake your pothos with? I used a bamboo cane for my first pothos; other avid gardeners use moss poles, trellis, or something similar.


Step 3: Add Fertilizer

When my pothos was growing all leggy-like, I realized that it might also have a nutrient deficiency. So I started to add a balanced fertilizer once or twice a month to help correct this lack of nutrients in the soil.

Follow the manufacturer’s instructions on diluting the fertilizer as a concentrated dose can burn your pothos’ roots.


Step 4: Consider Warmth and Humidity

Tropical plants like the pothos prefer warmer weather and humidity as they natively grow in tropical and subtropical areas.

Thus, if you provide a warmer climate experience with temperatures of between 65-85℉ and at least 50% humidity, your pothos will grow optimally.


Step 5: Water Properly

Using the soak-and-dry method to water your pothos is recommended. I only water my plant when the soil is completely dry, then I soak it with water, and once the soil is dry again, I water.

With watering my pothos correctly, it is also important to consider the soil and pot it is planted in. I keep all of my pothos in pots that have a large drainage hole at the bottom.

For soil, I ensure that it is porous and well-draining too.


Step 6: Provide Enough Sunlight

My first pothos didn’t get enough sunlight, so it stretched and tried to find the light. The result was the leaf nodes were spreading further and further apart.

The fix was easy. I simply moved my pothos closer to a window where it could soak up about 10-12 hours of sunlight each day.

Don’t move your pothos directly next to a window. It should be a few feet away if your window faces south or west and even further away for east and north-facing windows.

Ensure your plant only gets 3-4 hours of direct sunlight. The rest of the time should be filtered light to ensure your plant leaves don’t get sunburn.


Why Your Pothos isn’t Branching: The Truth

A leggy or spindly pothos forms when your plant is not branching. My first pothos was leggy and thin.

It grew tall, but it only had a few small leaves, and these were growing 1-2 feet apart.

Since I wanted my tropical devil’s ivy to be a fuller shrub, I had to diagnose what the problem was. So I started investigating.

There were several reasons my pothos was not branching and growing fuller:

  • This plant was receiving inadequate sunlight since I kept it in a different room from the vine pothos I was growing. If a pothos doesn’t get enough light, it becomes leggy because the stems stretch outward, looking for a source of light.
  • Its soil wasn’t nutrient-rich.
  • Honestly, I was a little scared to just start pruning, so this was another reason my pothos was leggy.
  • I also didn’t water my plant correctly.

Once I knew what was lacking and what I was doing wrong, I learned and adjusted my pothos plant care.


Frequently Asked Questions about How to Get a Pothos Plant to Branch


How often should I prune my pothos?

Pruning your pothos depends on how bushy you want it to be. If you stick to properly pruning your plant, a pothos can tolerate a heavy trim. However, it is recommended to only prune 20 stems at a time and carefully consider your whole plant and plan where you want to cut before you prune.


How big do pothos plants grow?

A pothos plant grows very fast. Between December and May, you may find that your plant grows up to a foot as it can add between 12 and 18 inches of length over a month at a time. In general, a devil’s ivy grows between 20-40 feet in height and 3-6 feet in foliage spread.


The Final Word

Pothos plants will vine and trail naturally; however, you can grow them to be full and bushy if you want a more shrub-like appearance.

To get your pothos to branch, first, diagnose why it might be leggy and thin and then add what was missing. The reasons for leggy photos could be insufficient warmth, light, water, and nutrients.

For a full pothos, ensure your plant has sufficient direct and indirect sunlight, warmth, and humidity. Prune frequently but correctly.

Water your plant completely, but only when the soil is dry, and add a diluted balanced fertilizer 1-2 times a month.