While people grow houseplants to decorate an indoor spot, the plants sometimes cause the opposite effect when left overgrown and unkempt due to lack of pruning. Prune houseplants to promote good health, invigorate growth, maintain shape and overall appearance. Pruning not only prevents disease from infecting houseplants, but stops it from reaching other parts. Although not all houseplants require the same kind of pruning, some standard processes exist from which all of them benefit.
Inspect the plant for any broken, dead or dying branches, stems or foliage, and snip them off. These parts reduce the appearance of the houseplant, restrict airflow and block sunlight. Cut dead or dry leaves where they join the stems, and dead stems where they join the plant. Use a clean pair of pruning shears.
Step back to determine where to remove growth or where it exists in excess. Cut wayward, straggly or tall branches or stems that form a striking contrast to the overall shape of the houseplant. Snip off drooping or low-lying branches and those from the sides that protrude beyond the shape of the plant.
Thin a houseplant to encourage good air flow. Cut branches or stems that cross one another through the center of the plant. Make the cuts flush against the main stem or trunk to prevent regrowth on the stubs.
Prune the ends of branches with the tips of your pruning shears. This technique is called "topping out" and is for those branches that you cannot remove completely, but want to restrict their growth to a certain height. Use your pruning shears at an angle and cut the branch back to where a new leaf or branch emerges. This technique encourages new growth to emerge down on the stem so the plant grows bushier.
Pinch off or remove flower heads or stalks after they bloom. Remove spent blooms just above the nearest leaf or bud, and cut off an entire flower stalk at the base of the houseplant. Removing spent flowers frequently prevents seed formation.
Pinch 1/2 inch off from growing stems in spring to promote lateral branching and a bushier plant. Repeat the process of pinching after four weeks.