When And How to Prune Houseplants: A Complete Guide!


Staring at my indoor houseplants, I thought that they needed some pruning. And as you might already know, pruning has many benefits like better growth, better plant health, and maintaining proper plant shape. So, I got quite excited about it and did complete research.

In this article, I’m going to share with you everything that I learned regarding when and how to prune houseplants. So, without further ado let’s start!

As a general rule, house plants should be pruned just before the growing season which is late winter or early spring. For some soft-stemmed plants, pruning can be done all year long and flowering plants can be pruned when all of their flowerings are done.

When To Prune Houseplants?

The damaged plant parts and leaves can be removed anytime during the year. Else than that, for most purposes, it is better to prune the houseplants before the onset of the new growth.

Some plants should be pruned just after they have bloomed completely to ensure better growth and to maximize next year’s flowering.

Now before we learn how to prune, it’s important to know what is actually required. So for pruning you just require two things: pruning shears/kitchen scissors and a plant that is overgrown and needs pruning.

How To Prune Houseplants?

How to prune your house plants like a pro | Plant care | Indoor plants

Pruning the Leaves

If your plant leaves are damaged by any of the reasons (like if they are yellow, brown, or having an infection) then it is very important to remove that leaf.

Why? Well, if you don’t remove that damaged leaf then the plant will keep using its resources and energy for that leaf. And it is a total waste as the leaf is already damaged and won’t recover any time soon.

Hence, for better growth of the plant, you should remove those damaged leaves that are unnecessarily using up the plant resources.

Another important reason to remove dead leaves while pruning is if you leave them as it is when they get prone to infection or fungus attack.

This infection could spread and will gradually start damaging the entire plant. So you should just get rid of those bad and damaged leaves.

Moreover, in plants, the bottom leaves that are the nearest to the soil, hold a lot of moisture in them. And insects and fungus try to attack these leaves first. Also, they don’t contribute much to photosynthesis.

So it is better to remove them as well.

Pruning Of Stem and Branches

Pruned Plant
Pruned Plant Photo By jeremy_norbury

The pruning of stems and branches should be done right from the early stage of plant growth. This will help you to make your plant very dense and bushy.

If you don’t prune stem and branches from the early stage then, the plant will keep on growing up just like a stick.

And it won’t look very good. It will have a few branches and just a few leaves near its top.

For example, if you had one plant in which you didn’t prune from the start. So most probably it would have only two or three branches.

But let’s say, in another plant you did pruning right from the start. Every fifteen days or so you used to cut down the tips of its branches and leaves. So most likely it will grow and look green and will have many branches

Curious, why? Well, it is because of the plant hormone AUXIN.

Auxin is a plant growth hormone that promotes the cell growth and elongation of the plant. It is present in the tip of the plant’s stem and branches.

And this auxin hormone is responsible for apical dominance. As per untamedscience.com, this auxin hormone, due to its apical dominance inhibits the growth of lots of lateral branches and buds on the side of the stem.

Now when you prune the main stem of the plant, the auxin source is removed. And since there’s no more auxin, there’s no more dominance of any single stem.

So as a result, the side branches start to grow and later on make the plant look bushier and green.

Actually, if you understood this scientific reason then your whole concept of why pruning is done will become quite clear.

Where To Place the Cut While Pruning & How?

You should always place the cut just above the nodes. A node is a point on steam and branches from where the leaves and branches originate.

Make sure to make the cut at an angle of 45 degrees, so that the water can run off from there. This is because if it is a flat cut then the chances of water staying there will increase. This may result in infection in that region.

Also, while using the scissor or any pruning tool, make sure that it is properly disinfected and sanitized. Otherwise, infection from one plant can spread to another one as well.

Flowering Pruning

Once a flower blossoms, it’s not going to blossom again on the same bud, right? And so it is better to remove that as well as a part of the pruning.

For example, let’s say you have a jasmine plant. So the branch in which the jasmine flower has blossomed should be removed.

This will ensure the rapid growth of flowers in other branches as well. Plucking the flower after it has blossomed fully will allow the plant to focus on more flower growth rather than just focusing on making seeds.

Root Pruning

Now as the plant grows its roots also grow. But if the roots grow a lot then they start bound and start tangling with each other.

So if this is the situation you are already facing, then you can do two things:

  • Either shift that houseplant to a bigger pot
  • Or cut the roots little bit and trim as needed

Tips For Pruning Houseplants

  1. Use sharp tools when you prune. Pruning with blunt scissors or a dull knife can crush, tear and damage the stem.
  2. Cut the stems that become very long and look odd. Removing this leggy stem will ensure better growth and shape of the plant.
  3. Add fertilizer after you have pruned. Fertilizers will help to boost up the plant growth.
  4. Don’t over prune the plant as that can make it difficult to grow back. As a general rule, remove only 10-20% of the plant foliage.
  5. If any branch or stem part isn’t cut properly or you damage it by mistake. Then don’t leave it as it is. Instead, remove that part, as that can later on invite infection and fungus infection.

Can You Prune Houseplants in The Winter?

Generally, it is better to prune plants in their growing season which is late winter or early spring. However, a few light prunings like removing dead leaves can be done all year. Also, it is allowed to control a few fast-growing climbers to maintain their shape.

Actually, the early winter weeks are the dormant season for the plant. During this time, the sunlight and temperature are less. Plants go in the inactive stage which is also called the dormant stage.

Most of the plant growth stops and slows down during this period. Plants don’t start to grow until it is their growing season. And therefore, it is generally not recommended to prune houseplants during this time.

However, normal pruning and if the plant keeps on growing wildly, then it is allowed to do even in winters.

Do All Houseplants Need To Be Pruned?

No, there are some plants like palm and the Norfolk Island pine that have a terminal dominant bud but lack the lateral buds. So pruning and removing that bud will simply leave the plant to die as there will be no bud to grow.

In the same way, there are also certain plants from orchid varieties that should not be pruned. Only a few dead flower spikes are removed from that plant.

FAQs:

Should You Trim Houseplants?

Yes, houseplants should be trimmed and pruned because it helps to improve their growth, shape and also make them healthier. In pruning, dead and unwanted parts of plants are generally removed and so it is beneficial for the plants.

How Do You Prune Overgrown Houseplants?

To prune overgrown house plants, first, take the pruning shears, disinfect them and then use them to cut the overgrown and dead plant parts. Make sure to make the cut just above nodes and preferably at an angle of 45 degrees so that water doesn’t stay there and cause infection.

Conclusion

So I hope now you know when the houseplants should be pruned and also how to exactly prune them. In case you get confused on when and how to prune any particular plant, then my best recommendation would be to perform light pruning at least once in its growth cycle.

Pruning if done properly from the beginning then it will not only increase your plant growth, but also it will make it healthier, and bushier. You just have to be careful that you are doing the pruning at the right time and the right way.

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