How to Trim Orchid Plants


Bring vibrant, tropical colors to your home or potted garden collection with the orchid plant. Unlike some other flower species, orchids do not need regular pruning and will not grow back more vigorously after such a pruning. Occasional light trimming may only be required to help maintain the plant's health and to remove dead or diseased parts of the plant.

Step 1

Snip off seed heads that may develop on the plant after a flower has blossomed, wilted and fallen off. This helps divert the orchid plant's energy into foliage growth and more flower development. This is not applicable if you plan to propagate more orchids from homegrown seeds, though such propagation techniques are typically only used by advanced orchid enthusiasts.

Step 2

Prune back the orchid plant's roots when you're re-potting it into a bigger pot, according to Penn State University. Identify any dead roots, which feel soft and appear hollow, and cut them off as close to the orchid plant's base as possible. If you're not re-potting the orchid and its roots are clambering out of its current container, manually push the roots back into the pot unless they are the roots of sympodial or Cattleya orchids, which can be cut back at the point where they escape the pot's barriers.

Step 3

Sever any dead or diseased orchid branches or foliage. Such areas often have a black or dark brown appearance and may feel soft and mushy. Cut the foliage or branch slightly below the diseased or dead section. The exposed live tissue will scar over and heal.

Things You'll Need

  • Pruning shears


  • "Understanding Orchids: An Uncomplicated Guide to Growing the World's Most Exotic Plants"; William Cullina; 2004
  • Penn State University: Home Gardener's Newsletter

Who Can Help

  • American Orchid Society
Keywords: orchid pruning, trimming orchid plants, prune orchid plants

About this Author

Josh Duvauchelle is an editor and journalist with more than 10 years' experience. His work has appeared in various magazines, including "Honolulu Magazine," which has more paid subscribers than any other magazine in Hawaii. He graduated with honors from Trinity Western University, holding a Bachelor of Arts in professional communications, and earned a certificate in applied leadership and public affairs from the Laurentian Leadership Centre.