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How to Prune Houseplants

How to Prune Houseplants
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When pruning, trimming and maintaining your indoor plants, have you ever wondered how much snipping and cutting back is really necessary?  Are your houseplants looking less than stellar, but you’re afraid to prune them for fear of overdoing it and killing them?  Well fear not, we’ll teach you how to prune houseplants so that your little green friends look lush and healthy all year long.

Well pruned plants appear much fuller and healthier.

Well pruned plants appear much fuller and healthier.

How to Prune Houseplants:

  1. Inspect plants thoroughly and look for dying, discolored, leggy or diseased leaves. Leggy plant stems are unusually long appendages that take away from the overall health and aesthetic appeal   of the plant. When leggy areas are pruned back, the plant is able to refocus energy to growing in a fuller pattern, rather than dispersing the energy outward to loose, straggling vines.

    Remove leggy appendages by pruning your plant.

    Inspect plants thoroughly and look for dying, discolored, leggy, or diseased leaves.

  2. Begin by snipping the leaf or unhealthy branch at an angle, leaving as much of the healthy foliage as possible intact.  If a large section of the leafy area is unhealthy, it may be necessary to cut the entire branch section off.  If this is the case, be sure to leave the main stem (the  area usually in the middle and typically the largest stalk that other branches originate from) of the plant intact, removing off shoot branches only.
  3. Avoid cutting off nodules whenever possible.  Nodules are the buds of new plant appendages that haven’t  yet  fully developed.
  4. Whenever possible re-root the plant cuttings. To do this simply place the healthy cuttings of  trimmed plants (trimmed plant cuttings should have at least 2 inches of stem growth below the leaves) in a glass or vase with water that is close to room temperature. Water in the vase should cover at least an inch of the bottom portion of the plant.  Roots will begin to appear in  about a week and  the cutting will be ready to replant in approximately one month.   The newly rooted mini plant may be added to the pot of the mother plant it was clipped from or it can be re-potted as its own individual new plant.

    Root plant cuttings in water

    After pruning your plant, root any healthy plant cuttings in water

  5. To prune cactus and succulents, simply cut off the dead portions of the plant from the bottom up.  Be carefully to remove only the non-living areas of the plant and never cut the top off of a cactus or succulent, as this is a sure way to kill these plants.
Shelley Wigglesworth


Shelley Wigglesworth


Shelley Fleming-Wigglesworth is a certified Maine Master Gardener and award winning newspaper columnist from Kennebunk, Maine. She has been writing for the York County Coast Star for more than a decade as a freelance columnist and features writer. In 2010 she began writing her own gardening column “The Master Gardener’s Notebook” for Tourist News. She also teaches gardening classes at local schools and colleges
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