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

How to Trim Succulents

Trimming your succulents sounds a little intimidating—who wants to take a sharp knife to their favorite plants? But your succulents can benefit from a light trim now and then, just like your hair!

Trimming down your succulents helps maintain their shape so that they don’t get too tall, leggy, or overgrown. If you want your succulents to look cute and compact, you will have to get comfortable cutting into them!

But don’t worry—trimming your succulents is more accessible and less scary than you think, and we will guide you through the whole process. Keep reading if you want to learn how to trim succulents!

How to trim your Succulent
Time for a trimming @concrete_gardens

How To Trim Succulents

Reasons to Trim Succulents

You can also trim succulents, like jade plants, to keep them small. To do this, you should cut back the entire plant. You can remove up to a third of its size once a year 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.

Another reason you might want to trim your succulent is to redirect its new growth. You can train some succulents to grow the way you want just by trimming them. If you see a branch or bud that’s growing in the right direction, trim your succulent right above it, and it should start growing that way. This technique is often used with woody succulents like jade plants to help shape them.

Removing dead leaves and plant matter from your succulents will let them stay healthy and help promote new growth. So make sure you remove them every fall and spring! Get a pair of precise tweezers, like these to ensure you’re grabbing only what you need. These tweezer came in handy so many times for us here in the office, we saved so many succulents this way.

How to trim your Succulent
Variation of succulents @vibeyourway

When to 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.

Spring is the best time to trim your succulents, with a set of pruning shears like these, because they tend to get leggy and extended during the winter. 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.

To fix this problem, you’ll actually have to behead your succulents! It sounds scary, but it’s super easy to do. Your succulent will be better off afterward! Here’s how to do it.

How to trim your Succulent
Sprouting succulent @iamursucculent

How To Prune Succulents

Why Should We 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 it. This, in turn, makes them appear unruly, shapeless, and quite untidy. Therefore, the need for pruning arises! Pruning of your succulent garden plants is carried out for a number of reasons. Firstly, it facilitates size control, reshaping, or the propagation of some parts of the plant in the breeding of new baby succulents.

Additionally, pruning 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 in the effort to liberate the plant or generate a new one.

How To Prune Succulents
cacti in the sunlight @plantbar

What Is The Best Time To Prune?

Sprucing up your in-ground, outdoor succulents is best during the early spring, just before new growth commences. 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 Prune Succulents
overgrown succulent @greengardensucculents

Tools & Tutorials

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

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.

Size Control

Above all, if you are pruning as size control, pick out the leaves, stems or branches that seem to be 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.


If you are pruning to reshape the succulent, consider making the cut ½ inch above the nodes and the ones that face the side 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 vary the lengths of each pruned stem for a more appealing visual appearance.

For Propagation

If you are pruning a succulent for the purpose of propagation, you should pick up the plump, healthy-looking leaves. And in the case of stems, the best candidates are the stems that are taking up a woody look and feel to them. 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 as well, and the leaves are attached to it are removed carefully not to damage the nodes.

For 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, seem mushy, or discolored, then those are the ones to prune off. Lastly, use a sharp, sterilized knife to cut them off. In cases where the majority of the plant is damaged consider cutting off the healthy unaffected parts to use for replanting. We found the perfect garden knife to assist you out there.

How To Prune Succulents
pink detail on the succulent @succulentlovestory

Beheading Succulents

Branching succulents like Echeveria, Crassula, Aeonium, or Graptopetalum tend to benefit the 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.

Grab a sharp pair of shears or a gardening knife. You should also wear a pair of gloves—some succulents have thorns and others have milky sap that can be irritating to your skin. Better safe than sorry!

Before you start, you should also have some rubbing alcohol on hand to sterilize your cutting tool. Rub your shears down with alcohol before you start cutting to prevent your plant from becoming infected. It’s advisable to also clean and sterilize your shears before using them on any of your other plants. If the first plant you cut is infected, you don’t want it to spread to the other plants in your collection!

We also found the rubbing alcohol helps with purging pesky mealybugs. Read our article, How to Get Rid of Mealybugs, to find out more.

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

Now take a look at your plant and decide where you want to make your cut. The cut should be an inch or two below where the rosette or top growth of your succulent ends. You want to include a little bit of stem so your plant doesn’t topple over when you go to plant it, but not so much that your plant will stick too far out of the soil as it did before.

The cut on the stem should be straight across or at a slight angle. It’s been noted that cutting it at an angle decreases the chances of infection, but we’re not sure how scientifically accurate that is!

Keep the leftover stem instead of discarding it. If you replant it, it might just sprout some new growth!

Leave the stem and the top of your plant out to dry for a few days, and then plant them in some succulent soil. Use a spray bottle, like this one, to moist the dry soil near your plants with water. This will encourage them to root. Then after a few weeks when they take root, you can water them normally.

To make sure that you develop promising water- scheduling to keep the soil with optimum moisture. You might want to refer to our article about watering succulents

Make sure you move them to a sunny spot once they’re rooted. You wouldn’t want them to start growing tall and stretching out again because you placed them somewhere without enough sunlight!


How to trim your Succulent
Helping them keep that compact shape @oursuccielife

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 just recently did from Prime Day.

By the way, we know Prime Day is over now but we still want to mention… This post is sponsored by Amazon Audible! 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?


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

If you liked this one, you’re going to love our full 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!

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

    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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