How to Carefully Prune Away Dead Leaves From Plants

Keeping plants looking their best requires removing any dead or dying leaves, flowers and stems before they begin rotting. Pruning away damaged growth encourages new blooms and healthy foliage.

Follow this step-by-step guide to carefully trim away dead plant matter without harming your plants.

Know When It’s Time to Prune

Examine plants regularly for any leaves or stems that are:

  • Brown, yellow or wilted
  • Crispy, shriveling or thin
  • Drooping down or sagging
  • Broken or split
  • Spotted with fungus or mold

Leaves that are more than 50 percent damaged or discolored should be pruned. It’s best to remove them as soon as they begin deteriorating before disease sets in.

Have the Right Pruning Tools Handy

Small, sharp gardening snips or scissors work perfectly for light pruning. Long-handled loppers are ideal for thicker stems. Ensure all cutting tools are sharp and sanitize them with alcohol between plants.

If removing just a few leaves, you can pinch them off by hand. Just be gentle to avoid ripping or digging into healthy plant tissue.

Prune Along the Edges of Damaged Areas

If leaf tips or margins turn brown, use sharp scissors to trim along the dead section, leaving as much healthy green area as possible.

Make cuts at a 45-degree angle to avoid blunt edges.

Remove Heavily Damaged Leaves Completely

Leaves that are more than 50 percent dried out or browned should be removed entirely.

Cut them off smoothly at the base of their stem, where they connect to a branch or the main plant.

Prune Back Stems to the Plant’s Base

For dead leaves at the end of a stem with no healthy leaves left, prune back the stem completely to right above the soil.

This directs the plant’s energy to lower buds.

Discard Debris and Monitor Progress

Once finished pruning, discard all dead leaves, flowers and stems in your trash or compost.

Keep an eye on pruned plants and watch for signs of new growth emerging within a few days or weeks.

With proper tools and technique, pruning away dead plant matter is an easy process.

Just take care not to over prune or damage the main stem and healthy tissue. Regular deadheading keeps plants looking their best all season long.

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