How to Trim Philodendron Air Roots

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Philodendrons occur naturally in the tropical and subtropical forests of Central America and the Caribbean. Many are cultivated as houseplants for their large, graceful foliage and attractive growth habit. Most cultivated species of philodendron grow as vines or have epiphytic, or tree-growing, tendencies and they produce a series of clinging tendrils known as air roots to help them anchor to wood or stone. Air roots, although necessary for climbing, sometimes begin to look untidy if the philodendron produces more than it needs to support itself, but it is simple to trim the air roots of philodendrons and will not harm the plant.

Things You'll Need

  • 20-20-20 ratio fertilizer
  • Utility knife
  • Hydrogen peroxide
  • Paper towel
  • Water the philodendron plant deeply with 1 tsp. 20-20-20 fertilizer diluted in 3 cups of water three days before trimming the air roots.

  • Sterilize the blade of a sharp utility knife. Rub the blade with undiluted hydrogen peroxide and let it dry completely before using it on the philodendron to kill any bacteria or harmful pathogens.

  • Locate any troublesome air roots on the philodendron plants. Look for roots with excessive length, ragged ends or discoloration. Avoid trimming any air roots actively anchoring the philodendron plant to its trellis.

  • Hold the blade of the utility knife flush against the main trunk of the philodendron just above the air root. Slice downward through the air root so it is severed completely.

  • Dab the wound where the air root was with a piece of paper towel to catch any liquid that might be expelled. Hold the paper towel against the wound for a few seconds until the wound dried up.

Tips & Warnings

  • Trim philodendron air roots in early autumn as the plant enters dormancy.

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