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How to Cut Back House Plants

By Nannette Richford ; Updated September 21, 2017
Houseplants typically do not require aggressive pruning.
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Healthy houseplants may give the illusion that they thrive on their own, but this is seldom true. Growing and maintaining houseplants requires routine care throughout the year. With proper watering, exposure to light and occasional fertilizing, foliage typically shows increased growth from early spring until fall. Most plants rest during the winter and produce a flush of new growth in the spring. Keeping that foliage in prime condition requires some pinching and pruning to direct growth and to maintain proper shape.

Pinch back new growth on the tips of branches to encourage the plant to produce dense-compact foliage and direct the plant to send out new leaves along the stems, creating multiple branches. Repeat in three weeks, pinching out new growth on all branches.

Trim back any overgrown branches that extend beyond the basic shape of the plant. Cut the branch back to match the overall shape of the plant. This can be done at any time to maintain the shape and size of the plant.

Cut back plants to the main stem, if plants suffer neglect. Prune tall, leggy plants, those with dried or yellowed leaves, or "old" plants. Give the plants water until runs freely through the drainage holes at the bottom of the pot. Place the plant in the appropriate lighting.


Things You Will Need

  • Clippers/knife


  • Save stem cuttings and root in a glass jar to create new plants identical to the mother plant.

About the Author


Nannette Richford is an avid gardener, teacher and nature enthusiast with more than four years' experience in online writing. Richford holds a Bachelor of Science in secondary education from the University of Maine Orono and certifications in teaching 7-12 English, K-8 General Elementary and Birth to age 5.