Pruning is an essential part of plant care. It’s also one of the most misunderstood, and if you over prune or don’t prune correctly, it can lead to some problems down the road. The following guide will help you understand why your Pilea needs pruning, how to prune it properly along with some common mistakes you’ll want to avoid.
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What is Pruning? Why Do Plants Need to Be Pruned?
Pruning refers to the act of trimming a plant with the intention to help encourage new growth by cutting away leaves that are withering or to give the plant a smaller shape. Many plants require pruning, although it may depend on the species.
Plants should be pruned at the start of the growing season or in the wintertime, depending on the species and the current condition of the plant. Plants that require pruning will need to be pruned at least once a year, but we recommend pruning a few times a year to remove all the dead leaves or excess branches.
You may want to prune your Pilea at the beginning of springtime, especially if you notice that it is becoming overgrown, the leaves are not growing substantially despite all other aspects of plant health being taken care of, or the shape isn’t quite right. Aesthetics-based pruning is particularly common since it can keep the plant looking as nice as possible.
How To Prune Your Pilea: Pinching, Not Cutting
First thing's first: Pilea has soft stems, and we noticed that it prefers to be pinched, while cutting could be too disruptive. Forget about using shears—pinching requires only your fingers. You may want to wear gardening gloves to protect your hands during the process.
When it's time to begin, take a closer look at your plant. Look for signs of overgrowth, dead leaves, dead stems, and other areas that need to be pruned.
The first step is removing dead leaves. They will likely be discolored or brown; they may also be flaky or dry. Take your thumb and forefinger and pinch just above the node of the leaf, then pull to remove the stem tip. This will help your Pilea keep its proper shape and avoid uneven growth. Start slowly and take breaks so you can step back and assess before you continue.
The next step is to cut back any overgrowth that you want to trim down for aesthetic reasons. In this case, use some high-quality pruning shears and cut the excess stem about 1/3 back. Make sure to cut at about a 45-degree angle and as close to the primary stem of the plant as you possibly can, as this will encourage new growth.
Pruning Mistakes to Avoid
Although pruning can keep a plant healthy, it’s important that you avoid any major mistakes which can actually impact the health and growth of your Pilea.
Pruning healthy leaves
Do not remove any green, healthy leaves from your plant. There is no need to trim them off, and doing so may impact your plant’s overall ability to grow. Only trim away dead or dying leaves, such as brown leaves, leaves with discoloration, or leaves which have begun to wilt. If you notice that an otherwise healthy leaf has a brown edge, trim way just the edge; make sure to follow the natural leaf line as you trim so that the leaf still looks aesthetically pleasing once you are finished.
Pruning too much at one time
You should only remove 20% of a plant’s total leaves at one time. It can be tempting to prune more; however, this can discourage new growth and disrupt your plant’s growth cycle. It can also make your plant look bare and lifeless. If you want to prune more after a single session, wait at least a few weeks before pruning again.
Pruning is a delicate process. Go as slowly and proceed methodically!