We often see small succulents that people have in their backyard or indoors. The truth is though that succulents come in many varieties, and some can grow up to 10 feet high, or even higher!
Small succulents are great for a small space. But the bigger ones may need more space for them to grow and thrive. If you are growing these types of succulents, keeping them in a small space is a challenge. The easiest way to deal with this challenge is trimming or pruning. You cut the part of the plant that grows excessively, which will allow you to maintain the shape of the succulents while keeping them indoors, or in any limited space they have.
The very basics of trimming succulents
Trimming succulents is much easier than trimming apple trees for example, or the wine grape. You just need to keep a few things on your mind before starting:
- The first step you should do is to carefully check the leaves on the stem you want to trim. This will give you a better look where you can cut the stem. In my case, I always look for a leaf node and trim just a few centimeters above this spot.
- Cut the stem at a 45-degree angle with a sharp and clean knife. The length of the stem you want to trim may vary depending on your preference. For succulents that grow tall, I tend to cut longer stems.
Pruning is not a complicated process. Just by reading this post or other free online materials, you’ll be able to do it correctly. Just make sure that your tools are clean and pathogen-free. Trimming succulents with dirty and dull tools can cause problems and infections to your plants.
The best time to trim succulents
It is a good idea to trim succulents in the early spring season. For me, this is a perfect time because the growth is just about to start. For flower-bearing succulents, the best time to trim them is after the bloom or during the dormant season when they are not actively growing, and investing a lot of their energy into the flowers.
Don’t forget that the cuttings can be planted into new pots. This means that you can have a new batch of succulents from the trimmed parts of the plants. Use the same materials for your newly planted succulents. Planting cuttings requires moist soil for them to develop roots and establish new growth.
The first step is to let the cuttings callus for a couple of days before planting them. If the cuttings are too tall to plant, you can cut them into manageable lengths. Make sure that the end of the cut is dry before planting them. This will help the cuttings develop and grow more roots quickly.
What I usually do to my cuttings is that once they callused, I place them on the top of the succulent soil mix. No watering for about a week only a mist. I wait until the plants grow some roots before I give the usual succulent watering method.
Top 3 Reasons for Trimming Succulents
There are many reasons why you should trim succulents. One of when they get too stretched or leggy. Trimming is not bad for the plants. In fact, it can help the mother plant grow more new leaves and stems and become even more beautiful.
The other reason why succulents are trimmed is when they grow new baby plants from the bottom of the stems. To keep the plant healthy over time, these babies should be removed from the mother plant. But if you are like other succulent growers who love to see new succulents’ babies growing with the mother plants, then trimming is a necessity.
For me, however, I always want to see a clean container with uniformly grown succulents. In addition, trimming succulents help me grow more of my plants. In fact, I have grown a lot of succulent plants from a few plants that I planted from the start.
In-detail 4 steps guide on trimming succulents
I have shortly discussed the process of how you can trim your succulent plants. Now I will share with you a step by step guide on how you can do it effectively, achieving the best possible results.
The first step is always about taking the health and size of the succulent into consideration. There are three ways you can do this:
Step 1: The basics of succulent trimming
1. Eliminate old leaves
Dying leaves are part of the growing process of many plants including succulents. As the new batch of leaves dies, the new ones grow. It is important though that you remove the dead leaves from the plant to help them grow healthily. This will not only help the plant but also important to allow the soil to dry quickly.
As the dead leaves fall at the bottom of the stem, they will cover the soil in the container. As a result, it takes time for the soil to dry. This can cause root rotting. In addition, keeping the succulents free from piling dead leaves also promotes growth on the stem. Such simple cleaning develops new offspring more quickly.
2. Trim the succulents just before the growing season starts
Well, you can trim succulents anytime you want. But what I found more effective is trimming them just before the growing season starts. The reason for this is that, cutting the succulents before the growing season helps them prepare for speedy growth later on.
However, the growth of the succulents varies from one variety to another. Make sure that you know what month your succulents actively grow and when they become dormant. Some great example of these is flowering succulent varieties. These types are mostly dormant during the winter and actively grow during hotter months. In addition, if you have flowering succulents, it is better to trim them after they bloom.
3. Do not water succulents after trimming
Depriving a newly trimmed succulent with water for two to four days allows it to grow more healthily. A day without water helps the plants’ roots to adjust and heal. After a couple of days, you can then give water to the plant. But make sure that no excess water lingers at the bottom of the pot. When the soil gets completely dry, water the plant again.
If you placed or planted your succulents under the shade, you will only need to trim the plants a few times in a year. And always remember that over-watering can harm the succulents especially when they get indirect sunlight.
Step 2 – Retaining the desired shape
1. Retain the natural form of the plant
Succulents are some of the most beautiful and cutest ornamental plants you can have at home. Unfortunately, trimming their stems could potentially harm their unique aesthetic features. The good news is that you can retain the succulents’ natural form. The most important one is considering the variety of the plant you’re growing.
What I mean by this is that succulents of different varieties have a varying perfect time for trimming. Succulents such as nolinas, hesperaloes, and dasylirions are varieties that don’t like to be trimmed while they are blooming. So if you want to trim them, wait until they finished flowering.
For me though, I recommend that you remove some spines and spikes of the plants. This is to keep you and your pet safe. Spines or spikes are natural defenses of the plants which may have a dangerous effect on humans and pets.
2. Cut the stems and or branches individually
When it comes to trimming succulents, I don’t recommend topping or cutting the top of the plants at the same height. The reason being is that topping can hurt the succulents in many ways.
What I recommend instead is to trim the branches or stems individually. Determine the overgrown branches that you want to trim. And decide the length that you want to cut from the stem.
Correct trimming strategy helps your plant to grow healthier and to allow them to thrive longer.
3. Cut the stem at the right place
As mentioned, you can trim your succulents at any time or anyhow you want. But not all of those trimming strategies work well. What I recommend is that when trimming succulents, find the perfect spot for the cut to make.
What I found the perfect spot for the cut to make it right above the node at approximately ½ inch. Cut the stem at this point at a 45-degree angle.
The reason why this is a perfect strategy is that the new leaves will grow just about this area. This technique is more effective when dealing with multi-branched stemmed succulents.
4. Remove the elongated stems or branches
If you want to maintain the shape of the plants, then the elongated branches should be removed. Don’t worry, the cuttings can be replanted and grow them into new plants. For longer cuttings, cutting them into smaller and manageable sizes is a good and helpful idea.
Step 3 – Take your succulent variety into consideration
1. Trim damaged leaves from yuccas and nolinas
These succulents are an example of succulents that should only be trimmed for dead leaves. Do not remove young green leaves. This is because green leaves help produce food and help maintain the plants’ healthy growth.
These succulents also need some protection from the drought and cold temperatures. So, unlike other succulents that needed to be cleaned, these yuccas and nolinas need dead leaves on their trunk as their protection during extreme temperatures.
3. Trim the dead flower and foliage from hesperaloes
Hesperaloes are some of the succulents that don’t like regular trimming. So if you are growing these succulents, be careful. If you really want to trim them, make sure that it is just minimal.
I recommend that you don’t remove the spikes of the plants before they bloom. You can trim them just after they bloomed.
4. Remove the spines of the agave leaves
If you are growing agaves, you might notice that every time the spines are trimmed, the tip of the leaves turns into brown. This is pretty normal for this plant. You don’t need to worry about it.
But trimming should only be done after they produced flowers. In instances where the leaves are dying, you can completely remove them.
Trimming succulents is not rocket science. You can do it on your own. The tips I shared here can help you to take care of your succulents.
There are some things you should consider before you make the first move with your cutter or your scissors. One of them is a variety of succulents. Before trimming your plant, make sure that you know what type of succulents you’re dealing with. It is key to successfully take care of your plants.
I hope that this guide will help you successfully trim your succulents, and do not forget to check my Complete guide on succulent growing. Thank you!