Trimming your succulents sounds a little intimidating—who wants to take a sharp knife to their favorite plants? But your succulents can really benefit from a light trim every 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’re going to have to get comfortable cutting into them!
But don’t worry—trimming your succulents is easier and less scary than you think, and we’re going to guide you through the whole process. Keep reading if you want to learn how to trim succulents!
When to Trim Your Succulents
The best time to trim your succulents is at the beginning of their growing season. Most succulents start growing in the spring, so ideally that’s when you should trim them.
Spring is a great time to prune your succulents, with a set a pruning shears like these, because they tend to get leggy and long 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 try to get closer. This causes them to lose their nice and compact shape. This tends to happen more frequently in the winter when the days are shorter and there’s not as much sunlight streaming through the windows.
If you’re in search for what additional tools can be used when tending to your succulent babies, check out our article 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?
Back to trimming… 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 afterwards! Here’s how to do it.
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’ve removed 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 sterilize your shears before you use 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.
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 like 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 succulent out to dry for a few days, and then plant them in some succulent soil. Use a spray bottle, like this one, to mist the 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 ensure you develop a promising water- scheduling. Read our guide on When You Should Water 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!
Other Reasons to Trim Your Succulents
Another reason why you might want to trim your succulent is to redirect its 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.
Learn more about the beautiful Jade Plant, with our informative article, here!
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.
Since you’re giving your plants a “hair cut,” maybe treat them to a new planter, like these stylish pots!
Another reason why you might trim your succulents is to remove any dead, diseased, or damaged parts. Succulents are pretty good at compartmentalizing the damage from diseases and keeping them from spreading, but you should still cut off any infected parts. You don’t want to risk it!
Removing dead leaves and plant matter from your succulents will keep them healthy and help promote new growth, so make sure you do this 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.
That’s all you need to know to trim your succulents and keep them looking compact, cute and healthy!
If you trim your succulents this spring using our advice, let us know how it goes! And if you have any more questions about trimming succulents, you can ask them in the Succulent City Plant Lounge. There’s tons of other succulent lovers in there who can answer your questions and help you out!
Happy planting! ?