Keeping houseplants healthy requires appropriate soil, adequate light, moisture and fertilizer. Most oblige with vigorous new growth and dense foliage, adding a touch of nature to the interior of the home. Because many houseplants originate in tropical regions, indirect light from a sunny windowsill typically provides enough light for healthy plant growth. Some, however, tend to stretch toward the light causing tall, leggy stems. These plants require some physical maintenance to keep them in shape.
Pinch out the center leaves on branches when new growth appears. Remove young leaves by pinching the leaves between your thumb and forefinger. Trim large center leaves with a pair of scissors or sharp knife, if preferred.
Repeat pinching when new growth reaches a height of 5 inches. Trim the center leaves of all new growth, even leaves that grow on new stems. This creates dense, compact foliage. Blooming plants produce more blooms when pinched.
Trim any overgrown branches back to the overall shape of the plant. Cut the stem 1/4 inch above a leaf node--the area where a leaf joins the stem.
Deadhead blooms on blooming houseplants to prolong blooming. Trim just behind the bloom with scissors or a sharp knife. This tricks the plant into thinking it has not produced enough flowers to reproduce and forces new blooms.
Trim yellowed or discolored leaves with sharp scissors. Laura Pottorff, plant pathologist from the University of Colorado recommends removing the whole leaf if more than half of the leaf is discolored. Leaves with small blemishes should be trimmed following the natural contours of the leaf.