How to Cut Back House Plants


Healthy houseplants may give the illusion that they thrive on their own, but this is seldom true. Growing and maintaining houseplants requires routine care throughout the year. With proper watering, exposure to light and occasional fertilizing, foliage typically shows increased growth from early spring until fall. Most plants rest during the winter and produce a flush of new growth in the spring. Keeping that foliage in prime condition requires some pinching and pruning to direct growth and to maintain proper shape.

Step 1

Pinch back new growth on the tips of branches to encourage the plant to produce dense-compact foliage and direct the plant to send out new leaves along the stems, creating multiple branches. Repeat in three weeks, pinching out new growth on all branches.

Step 2

Trim back any overgrown branches that extend beyond the basic shape of the plant. Cut the branch back to match the overall shape of the plant. This can be done at any time to maintain the shape and size of the plant.

Step 3

Cut back plants to the main stem, if plants suffer neglect. Prune tall, leggy plants, those with dried or yellowed leaves, or "old" plants. Give the plants water until runs freely through the drainage holes at the bottom of the pot. Place the plant in the appropriate lighting.

Things You'll Need

  • Clippers/knife


  • North Dakota State Univeristy: Pruning Indoor Plants

Who Can Help

  • Texas Master Gardener Handbook: House Plants
Keywords: prune houseplants, cut back houseplants, pinch back houseplants

About this Author

Nannette Richford is an avid gardener, teacher and nature enthusiast with 4 years experience in online writing and a lifetime of personal journals. She is published on various sites, including Associated Content. Richford holds a Bachelor of Science in secondary education from the University of Maine Orono and certifications in 7-12 English, K-8 General Elementary and Birth to age 5.