How to Trim Succulents

Succulents make excellent houseplants, especially in areas with wet outdoor conditions. They tend to thrive in drier conditions, and will hardly need any pruning. However, some of the varieties with branching stems may benefit from a little trim. Some succulents are adored for their interesting foliage, while others are chosen because of their uniquely colored flowers.

Nonetheless, all succulents are known to store water in their thick fleshy leaves, making them stand out. In case you want to maintain the shape and size of your potted house succulent, a few tricks on trimming succulents will come in handy. Read on to discover more.

Looking for an easy way to add to your succulents and cacti collection? Check out Succulents Box. They have amazing offers on already growing succulents. All you have to do is place it, water it, and enjoy the beauty.

What You Need

When learning how to prune succulents, it is important to gather your tools first.  Some of the most important tools include:

  1. Some succulents produce irritating saps that could affect you when they come into contact with your skin.
  2. Succulents trimming tools – Sharp knife, scissors, or pruning shears
  3. Tool Sharpener
  4. Rubbing alcohol

Steps to Follow when Trimming

Succulents care is probably the easiest of all houseplants because it is not really necessary. However, different people prune them for varied reasons ranging from maintaining specific arrangements to boosting the plant’s health and size. No matter what your inspiration is, the steps followed will depend on the reasons for trimming. These are as follows:

Trimming to Create the Desired Shape

Some people love to prune their potted succulents to keep them in shape. Different things inspire them. These include:

Maintaining the natural forms of the succulents

This is done differently depending on the succulent. For instance, never remove bloom spikes from the likes of dasylirions, nolinas, hesperaloes, and Yucas. It would help if you always waited until they complete blooming. Only remove spikes from agave when you notice agave weevils or after they have bloomed. When pruning cactus, do it at the point where the pads connect. It is advisable to remove all armaments such as spikes when growing the succulent indoors. The plant needs them as protection against predators, but they can be hazardous when left to overgrow indoors.

Cut single branches to the shape you desire

It may be a gradual process towards attaining your perfectly-shaped plant. Chopping the plants to the same height is known as topping and is not recommended as it affects the plant’s overall health. Only do it to plants that are outgrowing their space, but this is highly unlikely with succulents because they are very space-friendly.

To trim and shape leaves

There are specific steps one needs to follow when shaping leaves. They include:

– Establish where the leaf nodes that point to the desired direction of growth are.

– Using the sheers or knife, cut the stems just above the node, making sure it is within half an inch and at an angle measuring 45 degrees. Any new growth will then extend towards the cut side.

– Remove up to a third of the stem’s length maximum for every leaf. Consider varying the length to give the plant different variations.

– Use this technique for succulents with multiple branches such as the echeveria and crassula.

Dealing with Elongated Plants

Eliminate elongated plants, and then tilt to one side and re-pot them if you want. Always prune them down to small size without pointing them to new soil. Tuck the plant tightly into the new soil and allow 2.5 cm room for growth. You should always map out the new space before repotting overgrown succulents. This way, plants can accommodate each other.

Trimming to Maintain Size and Good Health

It is important to pull older or dead leaves off the plant regularly. Look on the plant’s lower sides to locate them.

  • Gently remove the leaves using your fingers. Leaving them on the plant for too long encourages rotting as the soil around this area will take longer to dry. On the other hand, removing them helps promote better growth on the stem.
  • Always prune succulents at the start of the season. While succulents can practically be pruned at any time, the high growth levels happen at the season’s start. Understand when the succulent’s growth season is since it varies from one variety to the next.
  • Do not water succulents at least 2 to 3 days after you prune. Allow them some time to heal after pruning. When you finally water them, make sure they dry.

When you prune succulents regularly and adequately expose them to direct sunlight, you will only need to do this once every few months or yearly

Pruning Following Plant Specific Requirements

Different succulents need different pruning care. Not all succulents will be trimmed similarly.

Nolinas, Agaves, and Yuccas

Prune only for dead leaves. You can also prune the armaments at the end of the leaves. Be careful not to remove any of the green leaves lest you hinder the plant’s food production. Doing this could also affect the plant’s overall health.


Remove damaged leaves only. They imitate the growth patterns of Yuccas and Nolinas. You do not need to prune, but you can remove dead leaves to make it look more presentable but never touch the green leaves. Trying to sculpt the plant is unnatural and could hinder its growth.

Check this too: How Often Should You Water Succulents?


You can cut dead foliage and spent flower stems. It is easy to grow and maintain as long as you keep stems and growing heads fresh.


Trim off dead stems and those that grow too tall. Cut back unruly stems to their bases. Never cut on top as this will stunt the plant and cause it to grow unnaturally.


Trim at the joints where pads connect. Resist cutting parts of the pads. Also, remove diseased or broken stems.

It is easy to trim succulents as long as you know how to do it. Most succulents are easy to care for. While they rarely need to be trimmed, removing dead leaves helps boost better growth. Learn how to do it right when you decide to trim.