How To Trim/ Prune Succulents Successfully (A Complete Guide In 2022)

How to Trim Succulents

We mainly grow succulents primarily to beautify our homes. As a result, we need to improve the natural appearance of the plant, and trimming/pruning is a good way to do it. There are other reasons for trimming the succulents or the right/wrong ways to do so. Nobody wants to take a sharp knife to trim their favorite plants. But your succulents can benefit from it.

First, it helps maintain their shape. Therefore, they don’t get overgrown, making them look leggy. If you want your succulents to look cute and compact, you must cut them comfortably! Second, it helps with diseased succulents. Moreover, trimming your succulents is less scary than you think, and we will guide you through the whole process. Keep reading!

How to trim your Succulent
Time for a trimming @concrete_gardens

Reasons To Trim/ Prune Succulents

Blooming succulents, over some time, tend to grow wild, twisted, and sprawl outwards and overgrow their container or garden space. What to do when succulents get too tall? You prune/ trim it. So, the first reason to trim succulents is to keep them small. You can remove up to a third of its size yearly in the spring. Cut all of its branches back to the size you want, making sure your cuts are near a leaf or lateral branch.

How To Prune Succulents
cacti in the sunlight @plantbar

Second, trimming/Pruning facilitates size control, reshaping, or the propagation of some parts of the plant in breeding new baby succulents. One example of this technique is shaping woody succulents like jade plants by trimming them.

Additionally, pruning/trimming is an exercise used as a damage control remedy for diseased succulents. It is perhaps the cheapest and most sensible way to save your plant. The branches and leaves of insect or disease-infested crops are pruned off to liberate the plant or generate a new one.

When To Prune/Trim Your Succulents

The best time to trim your succulents is at the beginning of their growing season. Most succulents experience new growth in the spring, so ideally, that’s when you should trim them. At the same time, the year-round tropical species can be trimmed off any time when the outdoor climate or indoor temperature is warm. Instead, the flowering species are thinned out in their dormant stage during the winter or soon after their blooming phase.

How to trim your Succulent
Variation of succulents @vibeyourway

In the winter, your succulents tend to get leggy and extended. Succulents often start growing tall when they’re not getting enough sunlight. They reach and stretch towards the nearest light source to get closer. This causes them to lose their nice and compact shape. This happens more frequently in the winter when the days are shorter and there’s not as much sunlight streaming through the windows.

Tools To Prepare

The tools used for this project are chosen solely depending on the size of the succulent, the vegetating nature of the plant; upright, trailing, or hanging, and the location it is planted, garden, or container.

The first essential thing to have before gardening is a pair of gloves. Gloves can help you avoid scratches/cuts when touching those succulents or performing the procedure. One optional tool to have is the soil moisture meter. I said this is an optional gear because we can easily sense the moisture of the dirt by sticking our index finger 1-2 cm below the surface. But when you are wearing gloves, a tool like this might be helpful. Moreover, a soil moisture meter might be necessary for other tasks in your garden.

You can prepare a pair of high-quality scissors or pruning shears for normal or big-sized succulents. If you don’t have those tools ready, find a sharp knife. For the smaller, more delicate species, you need tweezers, which are used to prune off small dead or dying leaves. Furthermore, the tweezers can be used to pull out the weeds and tuck the exposed roots back into the soil.

Pruning/ Trimming Methods For Different Purposes

As we mentioned, there is a right and a wrong way to trim. How you trim the plant is also determined by the purpose for which you prune it. The following are some ways to trim and prune succulents correctly for different purposes.

#1. Size Control

Above all, if you are pruning as size control, pick out the leaves, stems, or branches that seem very close to each other. Mark the ones you wish to cut off, pick up your cutting apparatus, and carefully cut off the marked sections. The slash is made at a 45-degree angle.

#2. Reshaping

How to trim your Succulent
Sprouting succulent @iamursucculent

If you plan to reshape the succulent, consider cutting ½ inch above the nodes and the ones facing the side where you wish the new stem to emerge. You can also train some to grow in different directions by cutting just above a small branch pointing in the desired direction when pruning trailing species and varying the lengths of each pruned stem for a more appealing visual appearance.

#3. For Propagation

How To Prune Succulents
overgrown succulent @greengardensucculents

If you are pruning a succulent for propagation, you should pick up the plump, healthy-looking leaves. And in the case of stems, the best candidates are the stems that take up a woody look and feel. The leaves are simply twisted off or clean cut using a sterile sharp knife. The stem cuttings are cut using a clean, razor-sharp apparatus, and the leaves attached to it are removed carefully to avoid damaging the nodes.

#4. For The Plant’s Health

To prune the ailing succulents, you first identify the parts of the crop you wish to cut off. These parts should be the ones that exhibit any form of abnormal appearance or feel. If the leaves or stem look shriveled, mushy, or discolored, those are the ones to prune off. Lastly, use a sharp, sterilized knife to cut them off. In cases where most of the plant is damaged, consider cutting off the healthy unaffected parts for replanting. See this garden knife if it can assist you out there!

How To Prune Succulents
pink detail on the succulent @succulentlovestory

A Step-by-step Guide On How To Prune/ Trim Succulents

Step 1. Preparations

There are 3 things to prepare in this step:

  • Timing
  • The tools
  • The plan for your cuts

First, you must decide the best time to prune/ trim the succulent. Once you know the time to do it, get the essential tools in hand before the procedure. Depending on the size of the succulents, you might need something big like pruning shears, or all you need is a pair of tweezers. After that, look at your plant and imagine where you want to place the cut. Mark them in your head or any way you can find to memorize those positions. You are all set, let’s move on to the next step!

Step 2. Get Your Tools Ready

I know that you all have the needed tools in your hands. This step means you must sterilize your pruning shears, tweezers, or whatever you have. Disinfecting your tools can help your plant to grow healthier because there might be infestations around your succulents. It’s not suitable for a young cut to recover without a proper way of sanitization.

You will need some alcohol with a soft cotton towel to completely sterilize your tools. It’s super simple, isn’t it? Now, let’s get to trim/prune the plant!

Step 3. Trimming/ Pruning

Remember where you want to cut? Place your tool there. If you forget to plan everything out, just keep the blades below the top growth ends 1-2 inches. You also need to leave a bit of stem behind to maintain the firm form of the plant. You may want to keep your cuttings for propagation, which we will discuss later.

Step 4. Let The Plant Dry

The final step is to wait for the plant to dry out moderately. This step ensures the root gets all the excess moisture out before we begin our regular watering schedule.

Make The Most Out Of The Cuttings: Propagation

We have an article about this topic, but we need to mention the idea in this article specifically. Why? Because when we talk about pruning/ trimming succulents, we have the opportunity to grow a new one from the cuttings.

The procedure is simple. First, you let the tip of the cuttings dry. You can use soft paper towels to make it dry quicker, usually after 1-2 days. Then, you can plant it in well-draining soil and water it a bit until the soil is moist enough. Remember to keep the watering schedule regularly. After a few weeks, you can see the roots growing, and the whole garden starts.

Trimming Or Beheading Succulents?

Branching succulents like Echeveria, Crassula, Aeonium, or Graptopetalum benefit most from beheading. If you have an Echeveria that’s looking tall and overgrown, it’s time to break out the shears and cut off its head! Once you remove the top of your succulent, you can replant it in the soil, and it won’t look so stretched out and leggy anymore. So the fundamental difference between trimming/pruning and beheading is the position of the cut. You need to decide which method is better for your succulent at

How to Trim Succulents
Have you mastered trimming your succulents yet? @thesimplygoodlife

More about beheading succulents: The Ultimate Guide to Beheading Succulents

Final Words

If you’re in search of what additional tools can be used when tending to your succulent babies, we have an article about the best gardening tools for succulents. Stock up on all the necessities we recently did from Prime Day.

By the way, we know Prime Day is over now, but we still want to mention… Amazon Audible sponsors this post! They are offering all of our Succulent City community an exclusive offer of 2 FREE Ebooks when signing up for a free trial! You can sign up for a free trial here! What could be more relaxing than listening to your favorite book while tending to your succulents?

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And if you have any more questions about trimming succulents, you can ask them in the Succulent City Plant Lounge. Many other succulent lovers can answer your questions and help you out!

If you liked this one, you would love our total in-depth ebooks! With so many of our succulent lovers asking for more, we listened and can’t wait to share it with you here! With our very detailed ebooks, you’ll get more information than these short articles, some ebooks are 30+ pages, perfect for a weekend read.

Happy planting!

ABOUT ME

Richard Miller

Salute everyone. It's Richard, the author of this Succulent & Xeriscaping blog. I am a traveler and a nature lover looking for a connection with the wild green. In my journey, I found a love for succulents and xeriscaping. What attracts me is the long-lasting & unique beauty of every plant I have the chance to see with my own eyes. Welcome to my little blog and let's enjoy a good time together!

Contact me: richard.succulentcity@gmail.com

2 thoughts on “How To Trim/ Prune Succulents Successfully (A Complete Guide In 2022)

    1. The one they showed in the beginning of the post is called Chines Dunce Caps. I am sorry but I forget the Latin name. They’re fairly hard to find, but I did find them on Etsy.

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