How to Trim Your Umbrella Plant

Umbrella Plant Trimming

Once you have decided where to prune your umbrella plant and when you are sure that the plant is healthy, it is time to start trimming. This is surprisingly easy so even beginners can do it.

It is also worth remembering that umbrella plants can rarely be over-pruned. Over-pruning may cause the plant to look different than what you wanted but rarely results in harm for your plant. Umbrella plants are strong and chances are that it will develop all the new growth in the next spring. This is why you should not over-stress about pruning. Be careful but remember that you are not likely to harm your plant even if you prune too much.

How to Make Your Plant Shorter

One of the main ways to prune your umbrella plant is to simply make it shorter. This is a common problem for umbrella plants with one stem: these tend to grow very tall and thin. Luckily, this is one of the easiest ways to prune. All you need to do is to cut a bit of the top growth to make your plant shorter.

Making your umbrella plant shorter is easy: simply cut an upright stem just above a growth node. This means cutting right above the spot where the leaf has sprouted.

This sort of trimming is easy but very important to do for all umbrella plants, especially those of the tall and thin variety. Trimming like this will prevent the plant from gaining height rapidly. It will also make your plant look fuller.

To prune, it is best to use bypass pruning shears. These cut with two blades (like scissors). These are the best: other types of shears can crush stems on the umbrella plants. Also, make sure that the shears are sharp enough so they can cut with ease.

If your umbrella plant tends to grow exceptionally tall, make sure that it receives enough light. Sometimes, if there is a lack of light, the umbrella plant will grow up to find more light. In this situation it might be best to move your umbrella tree to a different spot in your home.

How to Make Your Plant Thinner

Sometimes, the height is not the main problem with your umbrella plant. Some umbrella plants tend to be very wide and bushy. While full-looking umbrella trees are very attractive, you will want to prevent it from becoming too bushy. In this situation you might want to prune your plant to make it thinner.

The best way to do this is to simply cut horizontal branches back to just above a leaf node. This is very similar to making the plant shorter only this time, you will be cutting horizontal and not vertical branches.

One thing to keep in mind is that you will get renewed growth at the node where you cut. Because of this, you may decide to cut the plant back further than you might wish at the moment. Keep in mind that it will likely grow quickly in the next spring anyway.

Just like in the case of plants that are too tall, too wide plants should be pruned with bypass type of pruning shears because they will not crush the stem of the plant. Keep this in mind when choosing the best pruning tools.

How to Rejuvenate Your Plant

Sometimes you may wish to prune in order to rejuvenate your plant. This is particularly common if you have a bare bottomed and straggly plant. In this situation, cutting all of the stems down to about 6 inches from the base might be the best way to go. This is one of the best ways to rejuvenate your plant.

Keep in mind that umbrella plants often become very overgrown and bushy. This happens if you don't prune regularly. In this situation it might be very difficult to tell where to prune to maintain the shape of the plant. In this scenario it might be for the best to simply trim all the way down. This will give a fresh start to your umbrella plant. It will also give you an opportunity to shape it any way you like and to control it better in the future.

If you decide to trim your plant back to rejuvenate it, make sure to always leave 2 or 3 nodes on the each stem. It will give your umbrella plant enough spots to start a new growth and be healthy.

If you decide to trim back, consider using the trimmed stems as cuttings. These can be used for propagating your umbrella plant. While propagating these plants is not easy, you can always try. Simply place cuttings in moist soil for a few weeks. Make sure that the cuttings have a t least two layers of healthy leaves. This will give them enough growth nodes to keep growing. You can sprout roots from the bottom of the cutting. After the roots have developed you can repot your new umbrella plant and grow it in a regular way.

Photo credit: Forest and Kim Starr

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