Pruning Container Plants

The art of pruning with your bare hands 

pruning container plants may sometimes appear like a big job, they often look like a huge mess, but it's actually really easy. All you have to do is stick to these 3 basic rules, and you’re on your way to success.

  1. Avoid hard pruning in container plants, there is no reason for it
  2. Use your hands to remove and separate plants before you prune
  3. Make sure you’re not pruning when soil is flooded. Always check the drainage.

Another great thing you can do in container plants is develop a hydroponic garden which is different and fun and also very rewarding.

Before you prune - Containers provide only a limited place for the roots to develop,  even large containers have their limits. Why and how this effects pruning? Good question! When the space for the roots to grow and develop is limited it holds back the plant’s growth, when compared to planting in the garden - where the roots can grow freely. How this effects your pruning plan? Well, first, you won’t have to deal with large uncontrolled shrub growth or thick woody stems. Of course this depends on the type of plants you chose to plant in your containers. Let’s assume you haven’t chosen to plant Glossy Abelia in your small containers.  

Stop Hesitating

Pruning container plants is fun!!

How? See how simple and fun it is. The only routine pruning needed here is to separate the plants once in a while with your hands. You decide when is the right time to use (your small and gentle) pruning shears or if pinching is better in this case. Take a look at the pictures, the only thing I do every now and then is cut or remove dry blossoms, or when the plant sends out long stems that cover drainage holes, drag on the floor, or reach a little too close to a window.


Where? Let me get a little more specific: PLEASE stop hesitating. You can use your hands or pruning shears, it doesn’t matter, you won’t harm the plants! Yes, I know I get a little brutal with some plants, but they are stronger than you think, and if you pruned or tore something unintentionally don't panic (!) the plant will either grow new life, or replace it with something new. Trial and error, trial and error, that's the fun part. Don't be afraid to prune. And please, don't just stand there and stare helplessly, you do know what to do and how to do it, so, just try! Stems too long? Great. Prune them wherever you like. As long as you don’t prune too close to the roots leaving no leaves on the stems – you’re doing great. Plants  grow new stems just below the point you just pruned, once you see it, it will give you a clue as to where to prune next time.  

For more great ideas for your front porch, there's a great site by Dave and Mary called

Front Porch Ideas and More - if you love pottering around outside, you have to check out

this site!


My personal recommendations

My preferred pruning shears for pruning container plants would be long blade bypass pruners for soft stems or simply pinching. 

Providing general guidelines on 'how to prune' any kind of plant is important, but there are plants, and there is YOUR plant. So despite there being loads of information on this site, I also provide specific and personalized support. If something wasn't clear, or you're not sure of your plant's name, simply send me a picture with your question. Use the form below and I'll get back to you. In the mean time, see what others are asking. 

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