Trimming leaves and giving your plant child a home haircut

Trimming leaves and giving your plant child a home haircut

So you’ve been successful with keeping your plant alive but it started to lose its decor appeal and beginning to go a tad jungle fever.

There are 4 primary desires to prune a plant.

  1. Creating quality stems and foliage - This makes for a beautiful plant and the plant will perform by pushing out new green perky leaves. They bounce when you touch them.
  2. Reduce growth - Trees in building spaces can easily become too big for interiors.
  3. Maintaining plant health - promoting flowering and foliage, light-blocking inner leaves and creating an unbalanced plant or to remove pests and disease from a plant that can be saved.
  4. Training a plant - vine trailing plants can dangle over shelves, down bookcases, wrapped around coir poles or wire trellis and displayed like art.

A visit to the hairdresser leaves us feeling fresh and vibrate, this has a similar effect to our house plants, but there can be a right time to do it. Not all plants are comparable however, by following a few general directions you should be able to become your own jungle barber.

Tools of the trade.

Owning the right pair of pruning shears, trimmers or garden scissors will discourage pests and disease along with giving clean cuts to the plant. This will enable you to maintaining a fresh look and not butcher the structure of the plant.

Some blades offer designed angles or special coatings like titanium and fluorine while others are petite. If you can pick them up go with something that feels comfortable to you, a common phrase advertised is anvil or bypass.

A bypass secateur works the same way as a pair of scissors when two blades pass by each other.

Anvil style is when the blade works like a knife where the sharp blade comes down onto the anvil edge and is best for outdoor gardening on tougher wood.

The scissor-style will cause little to no damage to soft delicate plant tissue.

Remember to clean the blade between plants to ensure you don’t want to spread any pests that you may not have picked up on. 

So now that you have your choice of weapon when do you start?

Not every month is the same.

Your plants will go through a growth spurt in spring and summer so before that happens give them a prune in winter will help direct the energy into shouts creating a bushy plant -full foliage is always attractive and we all can agree a healthy lush plant puts a smile on your resting face.

Trimming a plant also gives you time to decide how you want your plant to look.

Cutting back a stem will stimulate branching so the prime time is just before the growing season, and on most plants you will then be able to take your cutting and create a new baby plant. For the southern hemisphere that baby plant will be ready as a gift at Christmas time.

If you get a bit scissor happy and trim further than you were meant to don’t worry growing season is just around the corner and you’ll be able to correct it in a few months or propagate the cuttings you have and pop them back into the mother plant once they have a root system.

To promote the best growth it’s a basic guideline to take off no more than ⅓ of the greenery.

If you have a plant that flowers wait until the blooms have finished and then prune, snipping off old dead flowers will help more blooms open.

If a plant is getting too tall you can cut one of the taller branches just above where a leaf is stemmed this will stop the plant trying to reach the roof so quickly but it will give out more leaves first because you have given the node a shock into sprouting foliage. A great trick for creating a fuller plant.

Now, not all house plants need to be trimmed but it is up to you how you want your plant to grow and be displayed, so you’re the boss.

Pruning really is about aesthetics, there is no one-way of pruning so practice and chatting to the plant community will help you gain skills and tips for the trade.


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