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How to trim dead plant leaves

Taking care of houseplants can be overwhelming. You want to treat them right, but might not know exactly what they want! Today we are talking about how to trim dead plant leaves, when to remove leaves, and how to do it!

Is there a worse feeling that going to check out your houseplant and seeing brown leaves? I know that it gives me an instant sinking feeling in my stomach!

Of course, I always jump to worse case scenario – is the whole plant going to die next?

But, dying leaves are a part of the cycle of life.

when and how to trim dead plant leaves

Why are the leaves of my plant dying?

If leaves are suddenly changing – especially if a lot of them change at once – you are going to want to take a good look at what might have changed or could be happening to your plant.

  • Has it recently been watered? Yellowing leaves might be a sign of overwatering. Make sure the pot has good drainage.
  • Did you forget to water it? Sad or droopy leaves often mean a plant is thirsty.
  • Is it not getting enough light? Lack of light can cause leaves to die.

If we are just talking about one leaf turning brown, and everything else seems fine, it might just have been that leaf’s time to go. Leaves can get “old age” and fade because of that.

Whether plants are in stress or it’s just their time, you have the option to cut off dead leaves from your plant.

when and how to trim dead plant leaves

How to trim dead plant leaves

It is easy to cut dead or dying leaves off of a houseplant.

Supplies needed:

  • You will want to use clean, sharp scissors or pruning shears.
  • You may also want a bag or bin to put leaves in, if you will be doing a major cut.

Here’s how to cut dead leaves off a plant:

  1. Identify the leaf or leaves that need to go. They might be withered, brown, or yellow.
  2. Gently tug on the leaf, where the stem attaches to the stem or branch of the plant. It might come off naturally if it is close enough to death. This is my preferred method of removing dead leaves@
  3. Use sharp clean scissors to cut the leaf off close to the stem or branch.
  4. Add the leaf to your compost bin if you have one. Otherwise, trash it.

Why do you cut brown leaves off plants?

Anything that is attached to your plant is going to be taking nutrients and energy from it. Once a leaf dies, it is not coming back to life and is just a waste of energy and resources.

Having it hang on there is a waste of the house plants energy that could otherwise be used to grow new leaves, flowers, or roots.

Removing dead leaves allows the rest of the plant to flourish.

You can also remove dead leaves for aesthetic reasons. Trimming helps the plant instantly look healthier.

How do you trim a plant without killing it?

Focus on cutting off dead and brown leaves and leaf sections. If that’s the majority of the plant, you might need to cut it back a lot. Generally, I try to cut no more than 1/3 of a plan back at a time. Cutting any more can send a plant into shock.

Once the dead material is gone, your plant can focus on growing what is still alive. Take time to make sure it’s getting proper light and water so it can really flourish.

when and how to trim dead plant leaves

Can brown leaves turn green again?

No – brown, crunchy leaves are never going to be green and lush again. Sad, but a reality. Time for them to go so you can grow new healthy leaves!

Can yellow leaves turn green again?

Yellow leaves mean your plant is in stress – usually too much or too little water or sunlight. It is extremely unlikely that very yellow leaves will turn green again. Snip snip!

Can a dead plant come back to life?

An actual dead plant will not come back. But, some plants can appear to be dead but still be alive. Cut off any brown or crispy sections and give the plant proper lighting and water and a little time.

I have cut plants back all the way to the ground and had them come back healthier than ever. It just depends on the type of plant and if the roots or base are dead as well as the leaves.

Can you cut off dead parts of leaves?

Yes – if part of a leaf is dead, you can use your sharp scissors to trim off just that section of the plant.

Trimming brown spots off a fiddle leaf fig house plant

How to Remove Brown Tips From the Leaves of Houseplants

Indoor plants often get brown tips on their leaves. It’s not the end of the world. To trim them off,

  1. Get a sharp pair of clean scissors
  2. Trim carefully along the brown edge of the leaf tip. Try to avoid cutting the healthy green part of the leaf – just get as close to it without cutting it as you can
  3. If more than half of a leaf is brown and crispy – just remove the whole leaf
  4. Wipe the scissor blade off with a disinfectant wipe

Do dead leaves help plants grow?

No. Dead leaves will drain energy from the plant until they naturally fall off. Cutting them off yourself prevents them from ending up in the paws of your cat, batted under your sofa, not to be discovered for months.

Want to show your houseplants some love?!
–> How to clean plant leaves
–> How to propagate a plant (free eBook!)
–> When to repot a plant
–> Rotating houseplants
–> When to cut leaves off of plants

Any more questions about removing dead leaves from plants?

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