It isn’t hard to grow succulents, which is one of the reasons why they are so popular all around the world. But sometimes they need a but of attention, such as pruning the old leaves. However, if you are new to growing succulents, you may wonder whether you can just pull off some old leaves that have turned yellow or brown.
My quick answer is yes. However, you need to make sure that you don’t damage the stem, healthy leaves, and roots of the plant. Remember that succulents do not have a deep rooting system–that’s because they come from semi-desert areas and in such areas they cannot build a deep rooting system, and hence they are easy to uproot. Using a sharp cutting tool is hence a better idea than trying to pull the leaves just with your hand, and uprooting your beautiful succulent in the process.
I also want to stress here that wilting is a natural biological process for succulent plants. It is something you should not worry about unless it is caused by disease or pests. In fact succulents “drop” old leaves so new freshly green leaves can replace them.
How to dispatch the dead leaves (how to prune your succulents)?
You can definitely just tear the dead leaf off. However, because of the possibility that you will possibly damage some parts of the plant, it is better to do it in a safe way. As I already mentioned, using cutting tools is a good idea.
You don’t have to spend money on this. A sharp knife or a cutter from your kitchen will do. You can also use bonsai scissors (click here to check my recommended scissors on Amazon), should you want to feel like a professional gardener, or should you simply grow many succulents and prune plants regularly. Scissors are super easy to use, and you will save some time with them.
It is also important to consider the season when you trim your plants. Spring is the best season for trimming, but in my personal experience, you won’t harm your plants trimming them any time of the year.
Guide on how to trim succulents
Let me give you a few actionable tips that will help you take best possible care of your succulent plants.
First one: decide which part of your succulents you want to trim. If you have a mini succulent garden going on, you should consider planning how you want your succulents to look like. If they are on separate pots, then you should also plan out how much of the plant leaves you to want to cut off.
Second one: Before moving on to the actual cutting part, you may want to prepare a bowl or basin. Add water and household bleach with a nine to one ratio. Then soak the cutting tool in it. This is to ensure that the bonsai scissors or the knife you are using are disinfected.
Third: When cutting dead leaves, consider the type of your succulent. If your succulent looks somewhat like Hens and Chicks (Sempervivum Tectorum), which has a crown shape, avoid cutting the center of its crown. You will have to locate the inflamed part of the plant and cut about a quarter-inch above its bump. If your succulent looks like Burro’s Tail or donkey tail plant (Sedum Morganianum), you should just cut the dead leaves. However, if the stem or the root is damaged, you can cut it off.
You can use your cuttings to propagate your succulents
Now that you have the cuttings, you can propagate them. Let me again suggest you a few steps, just to make sure you will achieve the best possible results.
First: consider the type of plant. If you want to propagate succulents like Tree Houseleek (Aeonium), make sure to leave at least 5 to 7 inches from the stem. After letting it dry, you can replant them by putting them in about 7 inches below the ground. Wait until it grows back to life.
If you are done trimming the excess leaves and branches off your sappy plants, make sure you put the trimmed leaves in a clean container. Leave them there for a day or two to let them dry off and callous. The cooler the season, the longer you have to wait for your plants to dry. It is necessary to let it dry so it will not rot.
You should also take note that you do not have to water the new succulents immediately. On the contrary, wait for a few days before watering. This is because too much moisture may lead the plant to decay. As the sprouts start to grow, you may now water them sparingly, again with caution. Always remember that small plant does not need as much water as an adult plant–it is much smaller, and hence there’s not space for it to store the water or use it…
It is okay to pull leaves off succulents especially the dead and dried ones. However, you need to be careful not to damage the other parts of the plants. The safest way though is to use cutting tools like a knife or scissors. When pulling leaves just with your hand, it can sometimes happen that you uproot your succulent, or damage it in another way.
There’s a reason why professional gardeners use scissors and gloves and do not trim their plants with bare hands. Learn from the pros. You do not need to spend hundreds or anything similar. Just get one excellent bonsai scissors, and always clean them before trimming your plants (to make sure you do not transfer some infestation or disease from one plant to another). Hope this helps, enjoy your trimming, and do not forget to check also the following posts: