My Houseplant Is Too Big!

My Houseplant Is Too Big!

What to do with the too large houseplant.

If you love plants as much as I do, you’ve undoubtedly faced the situation of having an indoor plant that has gotten too large. Many of our houseplants are from tropical areas, where they grow quite large in the understory of the rainforests. Being from places where they thrive in dappled sunlight makes them well suited for growing in the lower-light conditions in our houses, but over time we often find that they can get too big. Our customers ask, “Can I prune back my houseplant to make it smaller?” In most cases, our answer is yes, but.

The “but” isn’t because we’re being equivocal…it’s because often the best solution is to trim off the tops of these plants and root them, so you’re starting out with a smaller, but younger plant. Here are a few photos that show what to do with a too-large houseplant.

See the variegated corn plant (Dracaena fragrans) that’s reaching toward the ceiling? It’s healthy, but getting too tall. Once it’s taller than the window the growing part of the plant won’t have enough light. It’s time to cut off the top and root it, making a new, shorter plant. To do this, you a sharp knife, rooting powder, a clean pot and fresh potting mix.
The first thing I did was to cut off the top 8″ of this plant.
Next, I removed the bottom leaves so that 4″ is just stem.
I coated the bottom 4″ of the stem with a rooting hormone powder, made a hole in the fresh, moist potting soil, and pushed the stem into that hole. Then I gently pressed the soil around the stem and watered it well.

If you cut a plant and root the top in the summer, you can put the new plant in the shade outside and keep the soil moist while the plant is rooting. If you have the cutting indoors, just keep the rooting plant in a bright window but out of the direct sun.

The Monstera is a popular houseplant right now, but they can grow large. In tropical places these climb many feet up trees! You can train these up poles or other supports for awhile, but once they grow too large it’s time to cut off pieces of the newest growth and root them. Yes, you can keep the the older, lower part of the plant and let it regrow if you want…but be honest about the room you have for huge houseplants. You could also share the plant with others, or thank it for growing and put the older part in your compost pile.
These plants are ready to cut and root, staring over with the freshest part of the plant.
In addition to the Bonide rooting powder, we have Dip ‘N Grow liquid rooting concentrate. This is especially good for rooting woody plants such as cuttings from your Hydrangeas.
This begonia variety is called “Immense” for a reason. It forms huge, heavy stems over time that curve around as the plant attempts to stay in the light. Begonias such as this are easy to renew in the same way: cut off the end of that stem and root it.

If you have a plant that has gotten too large, bring a photo into the store and ask Marsha or Ashley if it’s a candidate for renewal by taking cuttings.

Another way to root the top of a too-large houseplant is by air layering. You can find some good information about that process on this Extension website.

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