Succulents store water in their thick, fleshy leaves. The appearance of a succulent depends on the variety, with some producing branching stems covered with interesting foliage and others more prized for their colorful flowers. Most succulents thrive in drier conditions, although nearly all make suitable houseplants if your outdoor climate is too wet. While most types don’t require pruning, some of the branching types can benefit from a light trim to maintain their size and shape so they can thrive in a small garden bed or container.
Examine the leaves on the stem you plan to prune to determine where you should cut the stem. Find a leaf or leaf node that is pointed in the direction you want the stem to grow, then cut the stem just above this spot. The new growth at the pruning spot will branch in the direction of the leaf or leaf node.
Cut through the stem within 1/2 inch (1.2 cm) of the desired leaf or node. Make the cut at a 45-degree angle using a clean, sharp knife.
Remove up to a third of each stem’s length as you prune. For trailing succulent varieties, vary the length of each pruned stem to give the plant more visual interest.
Prune succulents in early spring just before new growth begins. Prune flowering varieties after blooming or during the winter dormant season.
Some succulents, such as Euphorbia, produce an irritating sap. Wear gloves when pruning succulents to protect your skin.
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