‘First’ area of your peace lily to prune for the ‘strongest growth’

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Pruning is the official gardening term for cutting or removing plant material. It’s required for many trees and shrubs, but it’s also beneficial for most popular houseplants to keep them thriving – this includes the peace lily. It’s a good idea to prune houseplants to remove any yellow, brown, dropping, damaged, or dried-out leaves to prevent the spread of disease throughout the plant. Andrew Gaumond, houseplant expert at Petal Republic has shared how and when to prune these stunning beauties.

Like other popular houseplants, it is “best” to prune peace lilies when they are actively growing, according to the expert. This tends to be in the spring, summer and early autumn. 

While outdoor plants are best pruned when they are dormant, when it comes to houseplants owners should avoid pruning peace lilies in the winter and late autumn.

When it comes to what tools to use when pruning these plants, Andrew recommended “pointed pruning scissors” as these would give “the most control over cuts”, so owners don’t snip more stems than intended. 

Even for those who decide to use household scissors, they need to be sanitised just like with all pruning tools. Isopropyl alcohol or bleach solutions keep plant diseases from spreading between uses.

While peace lily houseplants don’t need a lot of pruning to achieve their mature shape, owners should still consider pruning in some circumstances. 

This plant naturally sheds leaves after a certain period of time and leaving the dry and dead leaves mixed in will only encourage disease, creating hiding places common houseplant pests, and give the plant an overall shabby look. 

The expert recommended pruning the plant at least once every three months to “keep it looking its best”.

He said: “Remove thin, overcrowded, and weak foliage first to ensure you keep the strongest growth. 

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“With proper fertilisation, some thinner of the inner part of the plant may be needed to prevent overcrowding that can stop foliage from fully unfurling. 

“Furled and overcrowded leaves not only give the plant a spiky look, but they can also encourage disease by trapping moisture and debris.”

When pruning, avoid removing “more than 10 percent” of the plant’s foliage at any one time, urged Andrew, not including diseased or damaged material. 

He added: “Minor pruning will stimulate new growth, while pinching the plant back routinely will prevent overgrowth.”

For those who want a more upright or narrow-looking peace lily plant, it’s fine to trim around the edges of the plant until owners achieve the shape they want. 

The houseplant pro said: “Achieve a more vase-shaped look with careful pruning of only the outer leaves to expose the more narrow inner foliage. 

“For a more dramatic change in the size and shape of the plant, consider dividing it. 

“This allows you to restart with two to three smaller and more manageable plants that may be easier to keep pruned.”

For peace lilies to recover well after pruning they should be fertilised one month prior, claimed the houseplant pro. While this is not always possible to plant that much in advance, if owners have forgotten to fertilise their plants it shouldn’t stop them from carrying out essential pruning.

Instead give the houseplant a few days for it to recover rather than fertilising and watering them straight after pruning.

Sometimes peace lilies can wilt or show some signs of shock from pruning, particularly if the plant is divided. To fix this, Andrew said: “Make sure to keep light levels relatively low, so the plant doesn’t suffer from sun shock while recovering. 

“Watch out for cold drafts as well. Peace lily plants don’t like direct sun or significant changes in temperature at any time, but they’re especially sensitive to them right after pruning. The plant should resume normal growth within a few days of trimming.”

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