Indoor plants add color and vibrancy to your space. To keep your houseplants in their best form, you need to prune them regularly. Pruning will help you remove dead leaves and flowers and encourage the plant to grow fuller and shapelier.
If you’re new to pruning and wondering where to begin, this guide has you covered. Here’s how to get started.
Choose Your Timing Wisely
The beginning of the growing season is the best time to prune your indoor plants. For most plants, this would be late winter or early spring. The days are longer in the spring with plenty of lights. It will help the plants to recover and grow anew after pruning.
If you want to prune a flowering plant, wait until it has bloomed. This way, you will not prune any unopened buds present in the stem. It’s best to do a quick google search on your plant to figure out their right pruning time.
Use Sharp Scissors or Pruners
Dull scissors or pruners can damage your plants. Hence make sure that your cutting tools are very sharp. You would also want to clean and disinfect your tools and pruning pole to discourage the spread of infection. Here are some ways to sterilize and disinfect your pruning tools.
Some plants release a sticky sap on cutting that can damage your floor. Use a drop cloth to catch the sap. You may also want to wear gloves to protect your hands from getting irritated by the sap.
Remove Dead Leaves and Limbs
Start your pruning journey by removing dead leaves or branches. Look for leaves and limbs on the plant with spots, dryness, or discoloration and remove them first. Cut them off just below the dead area to ensure you spare as much healthy foliage as possible. Removing the dead and limp parts will save the plants energy so that they can be utilized for healthy growth.
If a large section of your plant appears dead, you can remove the entire branch. Cut the dead branches at a 45-degree angle, leaving the main stem intact. Try not to remove leaves or branches that are green and vibrant.
Trim Off Dead Flowers
If you have flowering houseplants, check for any dead flowers and remove them. The dead flowers are brown, discolored, limp, and dry to touch. Cut them off at the base of the flower head to get rid of them.
Even a dying flower consumes energy from the plant at the expense of new growth. The removal of dead flowers will help prolong the blooming period and encourage the growth of healthy and more vibrant blooms.
Cut Back Overgrown Branches and Stems
Once you’ve taken care of the dead parts of your plants, you can focus on the aesthetics. If you have some branches or leaves that stick out, it’s better to remove those. Cut back the longer branches on the plant by a quarter to make them even with the other branches.
You can also prune a few of the side shoots developing on the branches at the base of the plant. Get rid of loose and leggy stems, if there are any. However, remember not to cut off any nodules of the plant as you prune. There are dormant buds in the node that will grow into new stems.
For soft-stemmed plants, pinching is enough to get them to a bushy shape. They include coleus, heartleaf, philodendron, and English ivy. Use your thumb and forefinger to pinch above the node and remove the tip of the stem. New growth will occur on the nodes after you pinch.
Do Not Over Prune
As a rule of thumb, do not prune more than 25% of the branches at one time. Sensitive plants will go into shock if you remove too many leaves at once, hampering their proper growth. Always remember to cut selectively, removing only 10% to 20% foliage at a time. When in doubt, it’s best to under prune. You can always come back to it after a few weeks or a month.
A healthy plant will begin growing again within a few weeks of pruning. You can accelerate the growth by regularly fertilizing the plants. Do not forget to water them as and when needed.
Some plants require more water than others. To check if the plant needs watering, stick your finger one inch deep into the soil. If the soil is not damp, it’s time to water again.
Wide-leaved houseplants accumulate dust and dirt over time. Wiping them with a sponge or soft cloth will help restore their vibrancy.
Pruning is not scary when you know how to do it right. Just think of it as giving your plants a much-needed haircut. By dedicating a few minutes of your time, you will be rewarded with healthier and bushier plants.
Once done with the indoor plants, you would want to prune your outdoor plants too. Make sure to read our guide about tree pruning and removing tree branches correctly before you head outdoors with your shears.
Mark Yeater is the Content Marketing Manager at Treestuff. He loves to collaborate with arborists and has written various articles around nature, tree climbing, eco-friendly environment, and much more. In his free time, you can see him conducting seminars to educate people on the advanced techniques and safety measures for tree climbing. Mark’s fondness for trees since childhood makes him a true Dendrophile.