wikiHow to Prune Houseplants

When you decide to prune or cut back your houseplants, you want to be sure you are following the right steps. Knowing the right way to prune houseplants will result in plants that grow to be full, healthy plants.


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    Prune any dead leaves, limbs and flowers to begin. Prune any limbs that are damaged or malformed. Move the foliage of the plant around with your hands and remove any dead leaves that may be caught underneath the foliage.
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    Make your cuts with pruning shears or hand shears. Decide which shears to use according to the size of the plant. Small plants can be pruned with hand shears. Larger plants with thicker branches should be pruned with pruning shears.
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    Cut branches with pruning shears where they join stems when possible. Your cuts will not show as much if made at the base of a branch. Try to cut below any areas where a new bud may be forming.
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    Clip your cuts flush with the limbs. You do not want stubs of limbs sticking out all over your plant. Placing your pruners against a larger branch while cutting the smaller branch next to it will prevent stubs. Cuts should be made at an angle where the cut side is away from your view.
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    Take off small limbs where new leaves or limbs are forming when you cannot take off the entire branch. This is called topping out. Topping out can be done when there are few branches to a plant and removing a branch would ruin the plant.
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    Examine your plant after making a few cuts and decide where you need to take off more foliage. You want the plant to be uniform and pleasing to the eye. New growth will occur at your cuts that will make the plant thicker and fuller.
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    Fertilize your plant when you finish pruning it. Set it in a different place out of direct sunlight until it begins to recover from pruning. Then, return the plant to its original location in your home.
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    Monitor your plant in the future to determine if more pruning needs to be done. You may see that a one time pruning is all your plant ever needs.


  • Prune your houseplants in the spring or the fall when possible. Spring is the best time to prune, because it is the beginning of the growing season.
  • Use a pair of sharp scissors or pruning shears to prune your houseplants. Dull shears could damage your plant.
  • Young plants also need to be pruned. This is called pinching back. Pinching back means you use your fingers to remove dead blooms and growing tips to shape the plant and help it grow fuller.

Things You'll Need

  • Pruning shears
  • Hand shears
  • Fertilizer

Article Info

Categories: Indoor and Patio Plants