Grooming and Pruning Indoor Plants

So you’ve potted some stunning new indoor plants, and they look great. But after the initial watering, lighting, and feeding, how do you maintain care for your houseplants? Steve Asbell, author of Plant by Numbers: 50 Houseplant Combinations to Decorate Your Space, has some easy how-to tips and tricks for grooming and pruning your lovely potted plants so they continue to flourish healthfully.

Plant by Numbers Plant Care 1

Plant by Numbers

Just as gardening outdoors requires such tasks as pulling weeds and removing dead leaves, so does a healthy and attractive indoor garden. A layer of dust and a petticoat of dead leaves are more than just unattractive; they promote disease and make perfect hiding places for pests. Here are some ways to get your groom on.


  • Clean large leaves with a damp rag, wiping from the stem outward on each side of the leaves.
  • Remove dead leaves by hand or with a small pair of pruners. Also remove any dead flowers or stems.
  • Pull weeds from the potting mix by hand, pulling from the base of each weed so that the roots are removed.
  • Hose off plants outdoors periodically with a fine mist to dislodge pests and dust. Do this in the shade to avoid burning the foliage.

Plant by Numbers Plant Care 2

Plant by Numbers

You won’t need big tools to prune your container garden.


Refresh your container gardens with a light pruning from time to time. Here are some reasons to break out the pruning shears.

  • Remove yellowing foliage with clean pruners to prevent the spread of disease.
  • Thin out plantings by removing old or weak stems at the base.
  • Prune the stem tips of bushy plants to maintain a full look.
  • Make more plants by taking cuttings.
  • Scale back tall plants like ficus trees by removing the tallest stems.

Every indoor gardener needs a pair of pruners, and a small pair of clippers is just the right tool for most jobs. To remove larger, woody stems, use a pair of curved bypass pruners.