How to Cut House Plants


Bring nature indoors with a green houseplant, adding life and fresh air to any room in your home. Along with regular watering and fertilization, routine cutting and pruning comprises a critical aspect of houseplant maintenance. It ensures your plant continues to grow within the confines of its container and also encourages healthier foliage formation.

Step 1

Pinch back the houseplant as part of your routine weekly maintenance. This forces the plant's branches to grow side shoots, creating a denser and more compact houseplant. Grasp the growing tip of a branch with your thumb and forefinger and break it off. Repeat for all of the plant's branches.

Step 2

Prune the houseplant's branches if they are growing too tall or too wide. This typically occurs if the plant wasn't routinely pinched back, according to North Dakota State University. Cut off up to one-third of the branch, as measured from its growing tip, with pruning shears. Make the cut after a leaf node, which is the point on a branch that swells and produces new foliage or branches.

Step 3

Trim the houseplant's root ball if roots start appearing along the surface of the pot's edge, signifying that the root ball is outgrowing your pot. Remove the plant from its container and carefully slice off up to 50 percent of the plant's bottom and side roots, according to Ohio State University. Refill the pot with potting soil and place the houseplant back inside.

Things You'll Need

  • Pruning shears
  • Knife
  • Potting soil


  • "The Complete Houseplant Survival Manual"; Barbara Pleasant; 2005
  • Ohio State University: Houseplant Management
  • Noth Dakota State University: Houseplant Pruning
Keywords: prune house plants, cut house plants, trim house 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.