How to Trim Tall Succulents? The 7 Steps To Prune Your Plants

Succulents are a diverse group of plants that are effortless to take care of. You might’ve noticed your plant is getting too tall, though. If your succulent is getting a bit too long, you need to trim it. How to trim tall succulents, you ask?

With scissors, of course. Clean tools are a must. Using these shears or scissors, cut off parts of the plant that are getting too high. Trim off parts of the succulent that might be withering as well. Clear off until you get the desired height.

The process might seem complicated, but it’s surprisingly not. Trimming your succulent won’t be a hassle when you know what you’re doing. The following steps will show you what you need to know and do to successfully prune your plants. Put your gloves on, and let’s get started.

Trimming and propagating succulents

1.  Inspect Your Succulent’s Size

Succulents are known for their compact nature, as well as their resilience. These plants can undergo this process called etiolation, where they look like they’re getting too high for their pot. They do this when they’re trying to look for a better source of light.

You can consider pruning them d if they become too big. These plants are called leggy succulents due to their tendency to grow tall under different circumstances.

Wanting them to be smaller again isn’t a bad thing. You won’t hurt your plants; in fact, you’re allowing them to flourish and be healthy.

2.  Decide on the Right Time to Trim

Spring is the season for pruning your plants. This season is usually the start of any succulent’s growth cycle. It’s the optimum time for your plants to develop, growing flowers, stems, and leaves.

As for the fall, it’s a bit different. This part of the year is reserved for cleaning and tidying up your plants before winter. Remove any excess rubble or junk that shouldn’t be in or around the succulent. Moreover, let the dead leaves go. Pick off as many as you can.

You can still trim your succulents any time of the year. The reason for pruning during the spring is that you can already see new buds or leaves sprouting after. Your succulent will still grow no matter when you start trimming. 

Also Check: How to Stress Succulents

3.  Get the Sharpened Shears Ready

You can now start gathering the materials you need. These tools will depend on the type of succulent you have, its size, and where you decided to plant it. Below you’ll find a detailed list of what you’ll need.

What to Cut With

Smaller-sized succulents need smaller tools. In this case, a nice pair of bonsai scissors work well. A good alternative would be tweezers. You can use these to crop dying branches and leaves as well. Tweezers can also be used to tuck roots back under the solid and pluck out any weeds.

Alternatively, larger varieties will need more heavy-duty equipment. There are regular-sized scissors that are sharp enough to do the job. Pruning shears are everyday gardening tools that you might already have if you have a few hedges.

If all else fails, a sharpened kitchen knife will work wonders.

What to Wear

Before cutting anything, make sure you have the right protection. In any gardening venture, it’s best to have a sturdy pair of gardening gloves. Some succulents do have barbs on them for their protection. Might as well protect yourself while giving them a trim.

What Other Materials to Use

Gardening tools

The main tools you need are gardening gloves and a nice pair of shears or scissors. That doesn’t mean you can’t add more equipment to make the process easier for you.

For instance, you don’t necessarily need a meter to detect soil moisture. If you have one, you can use it if you are wearing rather thick gloves. Other tools you can consider are a long stick to loosen the soil and a towel to wipe the excess dirt off of you.

After cutting your succulents down to size, you might need a place to put your cuttings in. A catch-all tray is perfect for storing the healthy trimmings you want to keep. You can propagate the cuttings in other containers or in between the newly-pruned beauties too.

4.  Start Trimming

Once you get your tools ready, all you need to do is trim. The way you go about it isn’t as complicated as you think. The succulents you’re about to prune should already be in place.

Prepare to catch any cuttings that are in good condition for the next time you propagate your plants.

Sanitize Your Tools

A crucial part of the process is for you to clean your equipment. When dealing with any plant, there’s a chance that it’s not 100% healthy. To avoid spreading any infections or infestations to other plants, sanitize your tools.

Your gardening tools shouldn’t have any dirt before cutting into your succulents. Rinse them out with water and rub off as much of the grime as possible. Then, make a solution of 10% bleach to soak your equipment for at least 30 minutes. Feel free to clean them after every use.

Pick Where You Want to Cut

This part of the process could be a bit tricky for you. Deciding where to cut is mostly up to you.

Removing the top part of the plant is usually the way to go. The rule of thumb for big cuts on your succulent is to leave two inches or more at the base of the plant. Leave a couple of leaves too.

Having a couple of leaves will help the main stem absorb more sun. It’ll grow better this way. If the leaves do eventually fall off, that’s okay. It usually doesn’t happen. Don’t fret if it does. It might be the plant giving the new buds enough room to grow out of the stem.

As for the other leaves and stems, feel free to trim some off as well. Prune your succulents until you get the shape they once had. You can cut them down to the size that you want. Just make sure to keep enough viable leaves on their stems.

Close up view of a trimmed African milk tree

5.  Let Your Plants Be

Your succulent might be too tall because it lacks a better source of sunlight. Since the plant shot up, now’s the time to find a better place for it. Plants like these might need another trim every once in a while. Although, once you move it to a better location, it won’t be as leggy as before.

After a hefty amount of pruning, your newly-trimmed succulents need a bit of time to themselves. Give your babies some time to rest and adjust themselves to their new haircut, as it were. The parts where you trimmed your plant need to heal and form calluses first.

It takes around two to three days for the plant to completely heal. You can start watering it again after. Follow the plants’ regular watering schedule. Succulents don’t need that much water, to begin with, so don’t drown them. After a few days, your succulents will be as good as new.

Related: Moss for Succulents: Which Moss Plant Should You Use?

Wrap-Up: How to Trim Tall Succulents?

Succulents are such awesome additions to your plant family, as long as you know how to take care of them properly.

When your plants start to look a little leggy, it’s time for a trim. Pick when you want to start pruning and prepare your sanitized tools for the job. Take a bit off from the top, but leave some healthy leaves.

You can trim off as much as you want. The leftover cuttings can even be propagated to make new succulents. You can add them to your ever-growing garden as well.