How to Prune Houseplants


Many houseplants do just fine with water and some fertilizer, whereas others need to be cut back. No matter what kind of plants you're growing, however, they can all benefit from some routine maintenance. Prune houseplants to keep them from looking scraggly. Pruning also promotes new shoots, leaves and branches to grow and improves the health of houseplants.

Step 1

Begin pruning houseplants when they are young because you'll have the most control over their shape. Pinch back the tips regularly between your thumb and index finger. This will encourage full, dense growth.

Step 2

Prune plants by cutting down half of the longest branches and stems. Make them one-third their original length. If there are shoots growing off the sides, cut the plants down to those shoots.

Step 3

Leave some branches intact by making less drastic cuts. This will leave foliage behind, so your plants still look healthy and bushy. Plus, they will continue to make food to grow.

Step 4

Make all cuts just above a node, which is where the branch or leaf touches the stem. Look for a small bud there. However, if the leaves have fallen off and there is no bud evident, cut above the leaf scar that's left behind.

Step 5

Place the houseplants in the bright sun to nourish them after pruning. Keep them there for about a week, then return them to their previous spot.

Step 6

Expect to witness new growth about a week after cutting houseplants. Pinch back the growing tips once the new growth has two sets of leaves. This will cause more branching.

Tips and Warnings

  • Avoid severe pruning. Removing all the foliage is very stressful.

Things You'll Need

  • Houseplants
  • Hand pruners
  • Water


  • Ames
  • Learn2Grow
Keywords: houseplants, prune plants, cutting houseplants

About this Author

Kelly Shetsky has been a broadcast journalist for more than ten years, researching, writing, producing and reporting daily on many topics. In addition, she writes for several websites, specializing in medical, health and fitness, arts and entertainment, travel and business-related topics. Shetsky has a Bachelor of Arts degree in communications from Marist College.