Keeping your Plants in Shape

Pruning is a necessary activity of houseplant care that needs to be done regularly to keep them in good health.
  • What is Pruning?
  • Purpose of Pruning
  • When is a good time to Prune
  • What to Prune?
  • Taking care after Pruning

What is Pruning?

Pruning is the careful and selective removal of plant parts, including branches, buds, leaves, blooms and roots. It should be considered a significant part of plant care. Trimming indoor plants can be done for various reasons. This can involve the removal of living, dying or dead plant parts. This will discourage pests and disease. A clean plant is a healthy plant.
Pruning is a good opportunity to inspect your plant for any care problems. Damaged, discoloured leaves or abnormal growth can signal the need to change your plant care routine. You can carefully prune affected areas and adjust your care to promote healthy growth in the future.

Purpose of Pruning

Understanding the purpose of pruning is vital. Most people often prune plants without knowing why they need to prune the plants. This leads to mistakes and may waste time on pruning that may not be necessary or pruning too late in the plant’s life.
Following are the primary reasons indoor plants are pruned:
  • Maintaining Plant Health: Dead or dying sections of the plant can encourage pest infestation or disease. Removing these not only makes your houseplant look better, but reduces the risk of future problems down the line.
  • Training a Plant: Pruning trains plant to promote or create a certain shape, height or width of a plant (lateral branching, bushy/compact form, etc.).
  • Make a plant bushier: Removing the tips of a stem releases a chemical that stimulates the growth of more side-shoots and bushier growth. Use pruning clippers or your fingers (with gloves on) to nip out the tips.
  • Keeping large plants in size: Plants can sometimes grow to become too large for a particular space, requiring their growth to be pruned out. Branches are pruned out accordingly to reduce the overall height and/or width. Removing or reducing long stems will help keep a plant’s size in check.
  • Improving quality of Foliage: Foliage plants are grown almost exclusively for their foliage. Only a handful are grown for their blooms as well their foliage. A variety of plants bloom but these blooms need to be removed to encourage strong foliage development that is otherwise sacrificed somewhat to bloom development and seed production.

When is a good time to prune your Houseplants?

Houseplants should typically be pruned at the beginning of the growing season, which is late winter or early spring for most of the varieties. However, woody indoor plants are an exception to this seasonal rule, as it requires year-round pruning to remove dead leaves and branches.
A good rule of thumb for flowering species is to prune them just after they have finished blooming. If you prune right before they bloom, you will be removing unopened buds that would otherwise turn into the flow.

What should be Pruned?

  1. Dead, broken or cracked stems
  2. Diseased or discolouredstems
  3. Stems that are rubbing against one another
  4. Overly long stems that create a lopsided shape
  5. Tips of stems to encourage bushy growth
  6. Leading stem at the top of the plant, to prevent it from growing too tall
  7. Old flowering stems to encourage re-flowering
  8. Stems of plain-coloured leaves on variegated plants
  9. Brown or discoloured leaves

Tips after Pruning your Houseplants

If your plant is healthy, it should recover from pruning and begin growing again within a few weeks. If your plant gets a little droopy for a few days, do not worry. It might be experiencing shock, but it will bounce back. Pruning produces short-term stress for the plant, so it is important to avoid causing additional stress. Following are the tips:
  • Avoid excessively bright conditions.Plants normally kept in direct sunlight are best moved to bright, indirect light for a few weeks to reduce potential stress from excess sun exposure.
  • If your plant is normally kept in a darker area, try moving it to somewhere a little brighter. This will speed up photosynthesis and boost the development of new growth.
  • Avoid the desire to repot at the same time as pruning your houseplants. Repotting may lead to root damage, which causes stress to your plants on top of that caused by pruning. Leave a gap of at least 4 weeks between pruning and repotting for most houseplants.
  • Avoid fertilizing your houseplant for about 3-4 weeks after pruning.
  • Due to the reduction in foliage, the plant’s water needs will probably be lower than before it was pruned. Adjust your watering schedule as needed for the first few weeks while the plant start’s developing new growth.

Sanitizing your tools: When you have finished pruning your plant, clean your tools with a disinfectant, rinse them under the tap and dry well.

Plants not to be pruned

Majority of houseplants can be pruned, but there are some that you should avoid pruning; otherwise, they will not grow back. These include Norfolk Island pines, palms, and many types of orchids including the common moth orchid. If you cut off the tops of these plants, they will not grow back. However, you can prune off any dead leaves safely. Just avoid trimming back the growing tip of the plant.


Pruning is a necessary activity of houseplant care that needs to be performed regularly in order to keep them in good health. Pruning is beneficial for several reasons, including encouraging new growth, removing dead leaves which can contribute to poor plant, and improving a plant’s overall appearance. Hopefully, our content will help you to understand perform pruning easily and effectively.

Reference links used:
3. Practical Houseplant Book (RHS, Fran Bailey & Zia Allaway)

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Know Your Home Air

Gas heating systems, leaking chimneys, fire places emits carbon monoxide, nitrogen dioxide and other harmful pollutants. Plastics and common household cleaners, paints, paint thinner often placed under the kitchen sink, release Volatile Organic Compounds (VOCs), when used and stored. Overheating of non-stick cookware releases toxic fumes. Pesticides we use in and around the home also release various chemical and semi-volatile compounds.


Harmful effects
Carbon monoxide causes headache, dizziness and fatigue. These often cause eye, nose, and throat irritation, nausea, and can also damage the liver, kidney, and central nervous system. Fine particles are produced during all kinds of combustion which lead to acute and chronic effects to respiratory and cardiovascular systems.

Pet dander and hair, carpet, rugs, upholstery furniture are main source of dust mites, fungus, and bacteria. A dirty filter of air conditioners acts as a reservoir for dirt, dust and other airborne contaminants that are continuously circulated back into your breathing air. Secondhand smoke from cigarettes, other tobacco products and mosquito coil emits VOC’s and formaldehyde and various particulate matters. CO2 released from our lungs is exhaled in the air which pollutes the air if the place is too crowded or there is less ventilation.


Harmful effects
All these can trigger coughing, nosebleeds, shortness of breath, dry mouth, vomiting,
digestive tract problems, depression, allergy and asthma attacks, and other respiratory illness.

Shower, faucets and other water sources are main cause of humidity and mold. Bathroom cleaners and personal care products like toothpaste, soaps, facial tissues, detergent, fabric softeners, air fresheners, deodorizers, hair sprays, disinfectants, are full of VOC’s and chemicals which emits harmful pollutants.


Harmful effects
Mold can cause allergic reactions, asthma and other respiratory ailments. VOC’s and toxic chemicals released in the bathroom can causes eye, nose, and throat irritation, nausea and respiratory problems. All these products release harmful pollutants while they are used also when they are stored.

A bedroom contains many sources of indoor air pollution. Mattress, pillow and blankets, soft toys, are the reservoirs of dust mites, fungi and bacteria. Furniture, carpets, paints and beauty product like hairspray, nail polishes, perfumes, deodorants etc off gas VOC, formaldehyde and toxic gases into the air.


Harmful effects
These pollutants make the air unhealthy which leads to allergy, asthma attacks, dizziness, headache, fatigue and other respiratory ailments.

Second-hand smoke
Second hand Smoke is a mixture of the smoke given off by the burning of tobacco products, such as cigarettes, cigars or pipes and the smoke exhaled by smokers. Secondhand smoke is also called environmental tobacco smoke (ETS). Passive smoking can lead to coughing, excess phlegm, and chest discomfort. NCI (National Cancer Institute) also notes that spontaneous abortion (miscarriage), cervical cancer, sudden infant death syndrome, low birth weight, nasal sinus cancer, decreased lung function, exacerbation of cystic fibrosis, and negative cognitive and behavioral effects in children have been linked to ETS. Secondhand smoke exposure commonly occurs indoors, particularly in homes and cars. Secondhand smoke can move between rooms of a home and between apartment units.

Guest Bathroom

Central heating and cooling systems and humidification devices
The air filter in your HVAC system is the front line of defense against poor indoor air quality. A typical central heating and cooling system circulates over 1,000 cubic feet per minute of air through the filter. This means the entire air volume in your house passes through the filter multiple times every day. A dirty filter, however, can actually make indoor air quality worse by acting as a reservoir for dirt, dust and other airborne contaminants that are continuously circulated back into your breathing air. In addition to driving up your utility bill, a clogged air filter will allow all that dust and debris that should be filtered out to be re-circulated back into your home. This can cause chronic allergies and especially be dangerous for people with asthma or other respiratory conditions.

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