How to prune indoor plants?

Pruning indoor plants is one of the important maintenance items. And the most individual one. There are indoor plants that are not pruned at all, while others require regular trimming. A variety of tasks are posed before pruning. It can boil down to removing dry or damaged parts, or it can form the basis of a beautiful silhouette, stimulate more lush bloom or rejuvenation. Maintaining the compact size and healthy condition of indoor crops is impossible without pruning. And although there is nothing complicated in it, you should not forget about the individual approach, and adhere to the general rules and regulations.

Pruning indoor plants

Types of indoor plant pruning

Pruning is considered an optional care item for indoor plants. Not all crops need a haircut, but nevertheless, almost no plant can do without a purely hygienic pruning. It is thanks to pruning that they maintain a healthy and neat appearance of the plant, restore or improve its decorative effect, maintain a balance between the root system so limited in its volume and the aerial parts. By enhancing, stimulating, regulating, restraining plants, pruning indoor crops reveals their full beauty.

Depending on the task facing this procedure, there are several types of pruning of indoor plants:

  1. Cleaning, or sanitary pruning.
  2. Pinching and shortening shoots, pinching buds.
  3. Crown formation.
  4. Anti-aging scraps.

Some houseplants only need one type of pruning, others all four. It is not necessary to conduct them at the same time, but it is much easier to do everything that is necessary.

Rules for pruning indoor plants

Regardless of the type of pruning, start by checking your individual potting preferences and tips for pruning individual plants. There are some plants that cannot bear even a simple pinching of the tops of the branches, but there are plants that are not afraid even of frequent haircuts. In addition to studying general information, it is worth examining the plant itself. A careful analysis of the condition, the identification of unproductive or damaged shoots, the study of how the plant develops, will help to choose the necessary degree of pruning for each specific plant.

Regularity, consistency in scraps is the main secret to simplifying these actions. If you do not wait until there is a visible need for scraps, prevent overgrowth, baldness, loss of decorativeness, and constantly keep indoor pets in perfect shape, the need for time-consuming and traumatic scraps will disappear.

The sanitary cleaning is repeated annually, at the beginning of the active growth stage, repeating it as necessary throughout the year and keeping the plant clean. Formation is carried out once a year or regularly for crops in need of haircuts. Rejuvenation is combined with sanitary cleaning and shaping, carried out regularly or urgently.

When performing all types of pruning, it is important to follow the general rules, which are in many ways similar to the norms for pruning horticultural crops. Their main goal is to take all necessary measures to prevent plant health problems.

The main rules for pruning indoor crops:

1. Work with sharp and well-chosen tools for this task. Pruning is already causing enough damage to the plants, and there is no need to reinforce it.

2. Hygiene. When working with indoor plants, you need to adhere to general sanitary rules. Clean hands, instruments and surfaces, mandatory care and disinfection of the working surfaces of instruments are as important for trimming as its quality itself. Particular care should be taken with capricious crops and those plants that are poisonous. During pruning, it is necessary to protect not only the plants themselves, but also the surfaces on which the work is carried out, and the skin.

3. It is better not to transplant and prune at the same time. The recommendations for most indoor plants indicate that it is advisable to prune at the same time as the transplant. But it is impractical to carry them out at the same time. Pruning is carried out before or after changing the substrate, leaving sufficient time between treatments for adaptation. Each of these procedures is harmful to the plant. And there is no need to increase it (as well as the risk of soil contamination of the sections).

4. The sections must be correct. Cutting only at an angle and above the buds will help you never make a mistake when pruning indoor crops. The shoot is radically cut out to the very base, to the level of the soil or the point of attachment to the trunk. Partial pruning is carried out, leaving 3-7 mm of the shoot above the bud. It is also necessary to take into account the orientation of the kidney: its location will allow “directing” the development of the crown horizontally or vertically. The requirements are also preserved according to which the cut on indoor plants is carried out at such an angle that new shoots grow outward, and not inside the crown, and so that the cut is directed away from the bud.

5. The general timing of pruning on indoor plants is very conditional, because in each individual case, it is better to select the time for this procedure individually. Pruning is always best done early in the active growing season and in spring. The long warm season ahead will allow the plants to renew themselves even after a drastic haircut. But you can deviate from this rule depending on the development cycle and the state of the plants.

6. During trimming, you need to periodically evaluate the result. Cutting indoor plants, especially when forming a silhouette, is easy to get carried away. By making periodic stops and inspecting plants up close and from a distance, you can prevent the consequences of excessive zeal and keep your impulses in time.

The most important rule of pruning is the timely treatment of wounds. When pinching the tops or working with thin shoots, you can rely on the plant’s own immunity. But it is better to disinfect and process any sections, especially on large shoots.

For this, special preparations are also suitable (balms or powders for processing slices on garden and greenhouse plants), and such simple tools as crushed charcoal or sulfur powder. Slices are processed carefully, capturing the entire area. If necessary, the processing is repeated. For plants that secrete a large amount of juice (for example, in euphorbia), the slices are allowed to dry before processing.

After pruning, the plant should be given time to adapt. It is placed in “mild”, intermediate conditions, protected from excessive heat, dry air and direct sunlight. Watering on plants after pruning is carried out very carefully, avoiding extremes and adhering to general recommendations for a particular species. Top dressing will help the plant recover faster, but it is better to resume these procedures after the plant starts growing again, and only if the transplant was not carried out shortly before or after pruning.

Indoor plant pruning
Indoor plant pruning

Indoor crop pruning tools

Any trimming is done with comfortable, clean and sharp tools. For small twigs and succulent shoots, a sharp knife can be used (garden knives are preferred, but other types can be used – for example, a clerical knife with its thin blade), if the pruning is very delicate – a scalpel or blade. But more often pruning on indoor plants is carried out with hand scissors to trim flowers and plants. Stationery or household scissors do much more damage to plants.

For pinching (pinching), tools are most often not used. But sometimes it is more advisable to use small scissors or special tools for forming bonsai to work on trimming the tops. If you have a large collection of plants with strong shoots, it is better to use a sharp garden pruner or special pruning shears for flowers and houseplants that differ in room size compared to garden tools.

Scissors and pruning shears – the minimum set, allowing you to cut both thin and more powerful branches on any plant.

Whichever pruning tool you use, the main thing is their cleanliness and regular sharpening. You cannot cut indoor plants with mild tools. Compression of tissue, “torn” edges lead not only to problems with the healing of sections, but are also associated with a high risk of infection. When working with each individual plant, the tools need not only be cleaned, but disinfected, ensuring that your actions do not lead to the spread of dangerous diseases. The easiest option is alcohol and boiling water.

Sanitary pruning

This type of pruning is carried out for all indoor plants without exception – even those that do not have or have reduced shoots. The easiest way to call this pruning is cleaning: by removing all dry, damaged or unproductive leaves and shoots, you maintain the health and immunity of the plants. At the same time, not only the loss of decorativeness is prevented, but also the spread of pests and diseases.

Sanitary trimmings are directed to:

  • to remove thinned, weak, old, damaged or dry shoots growing inside the crown;
  • removing dry or damaged leaves;
  • removal of dry peduncles and wilted flowers.

Sanitary pruning doesn’t have strict rules. All dry or damaged shoots are removed to the base, and if the damage has not affected most of the branches – to healthy tissues. Thin, unproductive branches are cut out completely. Heavily damaged leaves are removed completely, dried out along the edge – cut off, leaving a thin strip of dry tissue in front of a healthy area. Faded flowers and inflorescences are cut to the first full leaf or to the base of the peduncle.

The plants are cleaned after a dormant period, at the beginning of the active growing season, repeating this procedure in part and throughout the season as needed, during and after flowering, while shedding leaves in deciduous species, etc.

Sanitary pruning must be complemented by the removal of contaminated parts from the top of the substrate, including the removal of dry fallen leaves and plant debris. If the topsoil is heavily contaminated, then it is better to complete sanitary pruning by partially replacing the free substrate at the top of the earthy coma with a fresh one.

Pinching (pinching)

Restraining types of pruning are the simplest. Both pinching (the term synonymous with pinching is also popular) and shortening are measures that are carried out during the entire stage of active growth in order to prevent excessive elongation of branches, stimulate the growth of lateral branches or improve the quality of flowering. In fact, all these terms are synonymous and we are talking about a very simple procedure – removing the top of the shoot or extra buds. These are mini pruning, the easiest plant formation and containment measures.

Pinching, or pinching, involves the removal of the upper growth point, the upper pair of leaves or the upper segment of the stems of cacti and succulents. So, the separation after flowering of 1-2 segments of each stem of Schlumberger allows you to achieve more abundant flowering in the next season, and pinching the tops of young plants – to get thicker bushes. The buds are plucked mainly from large-flowered indoor plants. Excess buds, formed in large quantities, degrade the quality of individual flowers, therefore, timely removal of the ovaries allows you to achieve the most spectacular show.

Pinching has several tasks:

  1. By removing the apical growth point, they stimulate the growth of new lateral and productive shoots.
  2. A simple procedure that does not require injury to shoots and special knowledge, thicken the crown.
  3. The plant is not allowed to stretch, stimulates growth in all directions.

Shortening shoots is somewhat different from pinching. In this case, not only the apical bud is removed, but also the entire excess or excessively stretched upper part of the shoot. By removing a third or half of the length of the branches, the plant is not allowed to stretch, in a timely manner to restrain growth and maintain a compact size. Shortening is most often used on indoor vines.

Indoor plant pruning
Indoor plant pruning

Formative houseplant pruning

Crown formation – measures that are used for indoor trees, shrubs and bushy perennials, which, with proper pruning, can be given greater compactness or severity. Stimulating thickening and maintaining ideal sizes, keeping the plant in shape or giving it a style – these goals are determined only by you.

Formative pruning is aimed at performing several tasks at once:

  • stimulating the growth of lateral and young shoots;
  • flowering stimulation;
  • prevention of stretching, the formation of long, low-leafed, unattractive twigs;
  • alignment of the crown, maintaining its symmetry and attractiveness;
  • artificial creation of a strict silhouette – spherical, pyramidal, umbrella-shaped, bouquet, etc .;
  • reducing the size of large plants;
  • maintaining unchanged contours or shape;
  • thickening of foliage.

All these measures allow you to preserve the beauty of indoor plants and make them more attractive, corresponding to the style of the interior and the tastes of the owners.

Formative pruning is traditionally carried out most often in early spring, when the first signs of the beginning of active plant growth appear, or at the very end of the dormant stage. For flowering plants, pruning can also be carried out after flowering, removing all faded parts and creating the desired silhouette and size, stimulating the formation of shoots that will bloom profusely next year. But you always need to focus on the features of flowering:

  • for plants that bloom on annual shoots, pruning is carried out at the beginning of active growth;
  • plants blooming on last year’s shoots do not form, removing faded parts to the first true leaf;
  • plants prone to degeneration are pruned after flowering, carrying out regular rejuvenation.

Within the framework of any formation, there is a mandatory procedure – the removal of excess, thickening and unproductive shoots, or general sanitary cleaning. It is with her that you should start pruning. Only after getting rid of all that is superfluous, they begin to form themselves.

The most reliable guideline for formative pruning is the symmetry score. Uniform plant growth and various deviations from symmetry indicate areas that need to be trimmed. When creating a strict form, you can use a special template or frame, which is applied to the plant, cutting off all unnecessary. But focusing on uniform growth and determining symmetry will help you trim evenly, even without a template.

Formative pruning can be light or strong. Usually it is carried out, focusing on the desired dimensions or contours. You can cut off shoots from indoor plants up to 2/3 of their length, but you always need to focus on the number of buds and leaves, growth rate, plant tolerance for pruning. It is undesirable to leave less than 2 buds on the branches.

New shoots on a pruned houseplant
New shoots on a pruned houseplant

Rejuvenating indoor plants

Anti-aging pruning, in contrast to the formation of plants, is aimed at renewing the crown, accelerating growth and restoring decorativeness. They are carried out on old or rapidly aging plants, those indoor crops that are naturally prone to stretching shoots, dropping the lower leaves, loss of “shape” and compact size. Plants that have suffered from improper maintenance or care also need rejuvenation.

Without rejuvenation, indoor shrubs and trees, for example, roses and hydrangeas, will not delight with their beauty for many years. But for the usual indoor crops from the classics like pelargonium and fuchsia, rejuvenating pruning helps to always stay in shape.

The timing of anti-aging pruning depends on the age and condition of the plant. The optimal period is spring or after flowering is complete. But in any case, rejuvenation is best done during the stage of active growth, because after cardinal pruning during the dormant period, indoor plants may not recover.

Anti-aging scraps are:

1. Regular. With the constant removal of the oldest shoots, the constant renewal of the crown is stimulated, the problem of loss of decorativeness over time is prevented. Thanks to regular rejuvenation, indoor plants maintain a constant decorative effect, there is no need for radical pruning and there is no threat of plant loss.

2. Cardinal. They are carried out on indoor crops that have lost their decorative effect, are at a considerable age or on plants seriously affected by diseases and improper care (especially too hot wintering or dry air). Vigorous shortening of all shoots or cutting out parts of the plant stimulates the growth of new shoots and a complete renewal of the crown. Restoring a houseplant after radical pruning usually takes a lot of time, it completely loses its attractiveness and can only please with its appearance after a long period of time. It is always better to split your rejuvenation into several treatments than to take really drastic measures.

Regular pruning involves shortening old shoots to 3-5 buds and cutting out 1-3 of the oldest branches that new growth will replace, to the base or short stumps. Cardinal pruning is much more aggressive, the shoots of the plant are cut to the level of the soil, the main stem or short stumps. When performing anti-aging pruning, it is important to assess the condition of the plant itself and the characteristics of its development.

In some crops that are capable of releasing new shoots from dormant buds and giving root shoots, you can not even be afraid of pruning on a stump. For plants that form a central stem, or that have stunted growth, too much full pruning is likely to kill them. But in fast-growing and branch-prone plants, rejuvenation will occur, even if only 1-2 buds are left on the shoots.

A separate type of rejuvenating pruning is considered to be a regulating haircut on indoor plants that have suffered from improper wintering. Overgrowth, loss of leaves, stretching, which plant owners who prefer a cool winter have to face, are very common. After all, the conditions of city apartments are so different from the optimal range of required temperatures.

Such rejuvenation is carried out more sparingly. Its main goal is to restore a depressed plant and stimulate crown renewal. Usually, after an unsuccessful wintering, sanitary pruning is carried out, and the remaining branches are pruned, leaving 5-6 buds on the shoots, shortening only a few upper nodes.


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Anna Evans

Author âś“ Farmer

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