How to Cut a House Plant


Most house plants will require some light trimming or pruning at some juncture, even if only to snip off a dead leaf or two. House plant tissues are often tender and can easily be cut with a pair of small household scissors or even pinched off between your finger tips. Dead or diseased foliage should be cut off when you first see it. Flowering plants should be trimmed for size after they have bloomed. Foliage only plants can be trimmed and pruned year round, as needed.

Step 1

Snip away yellowed, brown, diseased or dead leaves and stalks. Cut down to a point of healthy plant tissue or down to the crown of the plant at the soil line. Discard the cuttings and any pieces that fall to the soil below. Use scissors for small diameter and tender stems and secateurs for larger woody stems.

Step 2

Cut back the tips of leggy growth to encourage branching and fullness in the plant. Remove the tip of the branch or stem down to the second set of leaves with a single clean cut placed 1/4 inch above the second set of leaves.

Step 3

Trim your house plants to control their size and spread as needed. Foliage plants with a trailing habit such as pothos, eventually need to be trimmed to prevent sprawl and keep the top of the plant pot covered with foliage. Trim back the plants as needed to suit the confines of the container or the setting and discard or root the cuttings.

Things You'll Need

  • Sharp small scissors
  • Secateurs


  • Michigan State University: Pruning Houseplants
  • Texas A&M University Master Gardener Program: House Plants
Keywords: pruning house plants, trimming indoor plants, cutting plant foliage

About this Author

An omni-curious communications professional, Dena Kane has more than 17 years of experience writing and editing content for online publications, corporate communications, business clients, industry journals, as well as film and broadcast media. Kane studied political science at the University of California, San Diego.