How to Prune Succulents

June 29, 2023 By Brian Collins
How to Prune Succulents


Pruning succulents is a necessary task to keep these popular plants in optimal health and appearance. By removing excess growth, leggy stems, and dead leaves, pruning helps maintain the shape, compactness, and overall vitality of succulents. However, knowing how and when to prune can be intimidating for beginners. In this detailed guide, we will provide you with step-by-step instructions on how to prune succulents effectively, ensuring they thrive and remain visually appealing.

How to Prune Succulents?

Step 1: Gather the Necessary Tools

Before you begin pruning, make sure you have the right tools on hand. These include clean and sharp pruning shears or scissors, a pair of gloves to protect your hands, and rubbing alcohol or disinfectant wipes to sterilize your tools. Properly sanitized tools help prevent the spread of diseases among your succulents.

Step 2: Determine the Pruning Objective

Identify your specific pruning objectives, such as removing dead leaves, reducing legginess, or reshaping the plant. Understanding your goals will guide you in making precise pruning decisions.

How to Prune Succulents

Step 3: Prune Dead or Dying Leaves

Start by removing any dead or dying leaves from the succulent. These leaves may appear brown, withered, or shriveled. Gently grasp the base of the leaf and carefully pull it away from the plant. If the leaf resists removal, use your pruning shears or scissors to make a clean cut near the base. Be cautious not to damage the healthy parts of the plant.

Step 4: Trim Leggy Stems

Leggy succulents occur when the stems become elongated and weak due to insufficient light. To address this, trim the leggy stems to encourage more compact growth. Identify the elongated stems and cut them back to a desired length using sharp pruning shears or scissors. Aim to make clean cuts just above a leaf node or joint to promote new growth.

Step 5: Shape and Reshape Succulents

If you desire a specific shape or want to rejuvenate an overgrown succulent, pruning can help achieve these goals. Identify areas that require shaping, such as branches that are growing unevenly or in undesirable directions. Make precise cuts just above a node or joint to remove or reshape branches accordingly. Take your time to achieve the desired shape while maintaining the natural beauty of the succulent.

Step 6: Propagate Cuttings (Optional)

Pruning provides an opportunity to propagate new succulent plants. If you wish to propagate cuttings, ensure that the cuttings are healthy and have calloused over for a few days. Place the cuttings in a well-draining soil mix and allow them to root before providing regular care.

Step 7: Post-Pruning Care

After pruning, succulents require proper care to support their recovery. Place the pruned succulents in a bright location with indirect sunlight. Avoid direct sunlight immediately after pruning to prevent sunburn. Allow the cuts to callous over for a few days before watering. Resume regular watering once the calloused cuts have healed. Monitor the plants for signs of stress or disease, and take appropriate measures if needed.

How to Prune Succulents


Can I prune my succulents during their dormant period?

If your succulents have a dormant period, it’s generally best to avoid pruning during this time. Pruning during dormancy can disrupt the natural growth cycle and potentially cause stress to the plants. It’s advisable to wait until the active growing season to prune.

Can I use regular household scissors to prune succulents?

While small succulents can be pruned with clean household scissors, it’s recommended to use sharp pruning shears or scissors designed for gardening purposes. These tools provide cleaner cuts and are better suited for thicker or tougher stems.

What should I do if I accidentally prune too much from my succulents?

If you accidentally prune too much from your succulent, don’t panic. It may cause temporary stress to the plant, but most succulents are resilient and can recover. Provide appropriate care, including proper light, watering, and avoiding excess stressors, to support the succulent’s recovery. Over time, new growth should emerge, restoring the plant’s vitality.


Pruning succulents is an essential practice for maintaining their shape, promoting healthy growth, and preventing legginess. By following the step-by-step instructions provided in this comprehensive guide,

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