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Pruning Dead Leaves and Flowers Off Of Houseplants

Ask the Expert: How to prune or trim dead leaves and flowers?

Hi, I’m not sure what to do when a leaf or a flower dies on your houseplant?  do you pluck it off, or are you meant to cut? where abouts would you cut it so you don’t accidentally stop things growing there ever again?  Will the part you cut grow leaves or flower again?
right now, i have a peace lily with a few brown leaves and flowers which have bent right over.  Haylee


If a leaf is dead you need to remove it, by cutting it off or simply plucking it off the plant.  The key is not to tear into the healthy flesh of the plant.  I usually cut the leaves off as close to the stem as I can.  I find cutting to be the easy way to remove leaves without fear of damaging the plant.  As for flower removal, it depends on the plant.  Most blooms on houseplants have bloom stalks.  I usually follow the bloom stalk to the bottom of the plant or at least to the stem and cut it off.  Some plants like geraniums have a bloom stalk but I don’t cut them.  Instead I follow the stalk until I feel a little bump, then I snap the stalk off at the bump.   If you are unsure of where to cut the flowers, send me a picture or tell me which type of plant it is and I will tell you where to make the cut.  For example, you need to follow the peace lily bloom stalk to the base of the plant and cut it off.


  1. I have a plant that is on the med-large size. It has large dark leaves and pink leaves (these are on stalks by them selves and they have like a light green stalk in the fold of the pink.) the pink may be a flower but appears to be a leaf. I do not know what it is. Orignally $20.00 at Wal Mart. It is a shade plant and I love this plant and wish for it to do well. I moved it out of the dining room and put it right in front of the window for about 4 or 5 days. Now about half of the large dark green leaves are dying and curling on the end. Do I trim or cut these? Being that they are such large leaves I thought trim, at least for looks, but what is good for the plant is what matters most. I don’t know if I did a good job being descriptive or not. I’m going to try to google it. Maybe I’ll get lucky. If I do I’ll be back to update you. Thank you in advance for your advice and help.

  2. Yes, you can trim the dark leaves off. If you upload a picture of the plant I can try to identifiy it.

  3. Hi, my name is Ben. All of the questions on here I have seen are concerning leafing plants. I have 3 Norfolk Island Pines, they are still quite small, and are indoor potted houseplants. It is a plant with needles. Do you still trim dead “fronds” for lack of a better word?

  4. Yes you can trim the dead “fronds” or branches. However, Norfolk Island pines really won’t need any pruning maintenance to speak of. They are a temperamental plant. So, you will need to find a place they like and won’t need to be moved once they become accustom to the location.

  5. Monica Sherbert says:

    I have a 10 yr. old Bullwinkle some leaves turning brown do I cut brown off or get rid of the whole leaf. Thank you

  6. Jamie Woods says:

    You can cut the brown off or the entire leaf. If you just cut the brown, make your cut at a 45-degree angle. If you choose to cut off the entire leaf, cut the leaf at its base, making sure not to cut into the healthy flesh of the stalk.

  7. Kimberly Mitchell says:

    My husband bought me a small bamboo plant or similar. It has been indoors since then but usb dying slowly. We moved it outside to try to save it. How should I trim it? Should I trim the leaves or remove it? Why isn’t it thriving indoors? Any advise on how to help it grow? Thank you

  8. I live in canada and have been growing this beautiful english ivy. it was great to months ago and some of the stalks are about 3quarters of an in thick. Then it happened hundreds of lives have turned brown and are almost all fallen off. I realized that was really over watered. I am so disuraged I just want this plant back to its beauty. It goes outside in June and I bring in before the first frost. I have taken it out of the pot and the roots stuck in a big clump around the root system . So I took it out gently and loosened the mud that was stuck to them. Let them dry for an hour or two and repotted it with new soil. I am still picking up the few leaves lift. I want so bad to have it back to its big beautiful self. Am I to late? HELP and thank you.

  9. Aynsley Broom says:

    Hi Al-maria,
    It sounds like you have been able to find a way to save your plant. Give it some time before doing anything else.

  10. Hi! So I have an Aloe Vera plant that I’ve had for a while, but not too long ago it had started to die. A lot of the “leaves” were turning brown, drying out, and wilting. I’ve saved it since then and now it’s starting to grow healthily again in the middle, but there’s still some lower leaves that are “floppy” in a way, and while they’re not necessarily brown in color, some are drying out completely. These don’t seem like they’re going to recover and I was wondering if I should or shouldn’t cut them off the plant. Please help!

  11. Jeffrey Balch says:

    Yes, cutting these off will help ensure your Aloe Vera plant stays healthy and green!

  12. Hi my heating shut off in my apartment so I got a small air flow heater as my house was freezing. It was pointed in the direction of my houseplants and several of them appear to have burnt leaves now, some have an entire side of the plant brown and wilted. I have rotated the heater and misted then heavily but what else can I do to save them??

  13. Jeffrey Balch says:

    Hi Mary,
    They should survive, just make sure you don’t overwater them! You can also prune the areas that were burnt- the damage there cannot be reversed.