Not sure how to keep your plants looking their best? As part of our feature series, Plant Parent Basics, in this article you will learn how to tell if your plant needs pruning, and the foolproof way to make it happen.
What is pruning?
Pruning, as defined by dictionary.com, is to trim a plant by cutting away dead or overgrown branches, stems or leaves.
Why should I prune my houseplants?
To keep your houseplants healthy and living their best lives, you should prune them regularly. Pruning helps them grow faster and more fruitful. It also helps prevent disease and pest problems.
When should I prune my houseplants?
Whenever it is necessary. We like to do light pruning whenever we do our watering routine. By pruning regularly in tandem with our watering schedule, we eliminate the need to do major pruning.
We tend to avoid major pruning efforts because it’s time consuming, messy (and not in the fun terrarium building way) and can cause shock in the houseplant. If you do need to do any major pruning, say on a larger plant, only do so at the start of growing season. For us in the Northern Hemisphere, major pruning should occur in early spring.
Another rule of thumb to remember when pruning: Don’t remove more than 20 percent of a plant's foliage at one time. Think of it like getting more of a haircut than you bargained for at the hairdresser... yikes.
How do I prune my houseplants?
Pruning your houseplants is easy, we promise. It’s also kind of therapeutic. Most plants will let you know when they want a leaf or stem removed, as it will turn yellow and limp. Simply snip or gently pull it off.
When pruning, always use plant pruning shears. Notice we did not say scissors. Scissors and similar office tools are just not sharp enough and actually cause damage to the plant. Pruning shears aren’t expensive. Make the investment, if not for you, for your plants.
We love this simple guide with illustrations for step by step instructions on how to prune your houseplants. Just disregard the part about scissors - shears only, ZENies!
In summary, if you stick to a regular pruning schedule, you will keep houseplants the right size and shape for your space. Remember, light pruning or trimming can be done any time of the year, including winter, but if you’re going for the gusto, wait until late winter or early spring.