How to Prune Your Houseplants


Although houseplants add color to the home, they may become overgrown and unkempt if they aren't regularly pruned. Pruning also prevents disease from attacking damaged stems and helps control the size of the plant. Not all houseplants require the same treatment when it comes to pruning, but some standard trimming processes benefit most types of plants. When possible, verify the exact needs of the specific plant before picking up a pair of shears.

Step 1

Prune out any dead or damaged branches and leaves when the plant is dormant or growing slowly, usually in winter. Cut off the leaves where they join the stem and remove entire dead stems at the point where they join the main stem or emerge from the soil.

Step 2

Thin the interiors of full, bushy plants to provide good air circulation through the center. Remove branches that have few leaves or buds as well as those that are rubbing on other branches.

Step 3

Pinch off the top ½ inch of the growing stems in spring. Pinching promotes lateral branching and a fuller plant. Repeat the process four weeks later.

Step 4

Trim the plant to size and to control overgrown branches throughout the year. Cut off branches to within ¼ inch of a leaf node. Prune to a node that is near the desired height for the branch.

Step 5

Remove flower stalks or heads after they bloom. Cut off entire stalks at the base of the plant or trim off spent flower heads just above the nearest bud or leaf. Frequently removing spent flowers prevents seed formation, which may encourage further blooming.

Tips and Warnings

  • Dirty shears may spread disease to houseplants. Rinse the shears in a solution of one part bleach to nine parts water to kill any disease organisms before you prune.

Things You'll Need

  • Shears


  • Purdue University Cooperative Extension: Indoor Plant Care
  • University of Georgia Cooperative Extension: Growing Indoor Plants with Success
Keywords: pruning houseplants, trimming indoor plants, houseplant care

About this Author

Jenny Harrington has been a freelance writer since 2006. Her published articles have appeared in various print and online publications, including the "Dollar Stretcher." Previously, she owned her own business, selling handmade items online, wholesale and at crafts fairs. Harrington's specialties include small business information, crafting, decorating and gardening.