Growing a healthy, resilient plant is every home gardener’s dream. However, there comes a time in a plant’s growth cycle when it becomes a tad too tall for comfort. Luckily, there’s no shortage of safe, straightforward approaches to deal with an overgrown plant without risking its health or longevity.
When house plants are getting too tall, you can either prune them, provide structural support, or repot them. If you’re looking to downsize your plant, you’ll want to prune its stems, branches, or roots. If the size isn’t an issue, you can opt for one (or both) of the other two strategies.
In the following sections, I’ll expand on the best ways to deal with an overgrown plant while still promoting its health and resilience. I’ll also go over some of the best strategies to prevent your house plant from becoming too tall in the first place. Ready? Then let’s get started.
How To Deal With an Overgrown House Plant
Dealing with an overgrown plant is easier than you’d think; therefore, never skimp on your regular watering and fertilizing routines in fear of your greenery becoming too tall.
While there are many ways to scale down your plants, raising one that simply refuses to grow isn’t nearly as easy.
Before diving into some tips and techniques on how to deal with overgrown greenery, I want to note that a plant doesn’t need to reach a specific size for it to warrant a downscale.
As soon as it starts invading your personal space or clashing with the rest of the decor, you can begin implementing the following tips.
Pruning is the simplest way to reduce the size of an overgrown plant. The practice consists of cutting away overgrown (or dead) stems and branches until your greenery reaches the desired size.
Pruning kills two birds with one stone: it downsizes your plant safely and conveniently while increasing its fruitfulness and longevity – it’s a win-win!
However, keep in mind that the practice is also known to enhance growth rate; as a result, you’ll likely have to keep at it on a regular basis. Therefore, as soon as you choose pruning as your strategy of choice, beware that you’re making a long-term commitment.
This technique is pretty self-explanatory; however, I assure you it sounds scarier and riskier than it actually is. When your regular branch and stem pruning schedule becomes too hectic to handle, it might be time to divert your focus elsewhere.
Therefore, when your plant reaches its ideal size (according to you), root pruning becomes a necessity. Some species grow so fast that the only way to restrict their pace is to deal with the source itself.
Don’t worry, though; the practice is as easy and safe as it can be (not to mention highly beneficial).
Root pruning slows stem growth while creating space in the soil for new roots to emerge. This also means that you won’t have to move your plant to a bigger container as it grows, which could subject it to transplant shock and a plethora of other issues.
The frequency of the practice usually depends on your personal preferences and comfort level; however, when a plant grows more than three times taller than its container, this might be a sign to whip out your secateurs.
How To Prune Overgrown Roots
Here’s a quick 4-step guide on how to prune overgrown roots:
- Expose the root ball. For this step to go as smoothly as possible, you’ll want the soil to be moist but not soaking wet. Start removing the soil all around the root ball until the structure is fully visible.
- Loosen the roots. When a plant gets overgrown enough, its roots start becoming too entangled for you to accurately inspect and prune them. Therefore, you’ll want to (gently) start loosening the roots using your hands until each one of them is distinguishable.
- Cut any damaged, lanky, or generally overgrown roots. After inspecting each root individually, you’ll be able to find the ones that are damaged, lanky, or otherwise overgrown. Start cutting these roots (or their damaged segments) by using any cutting tool of your choice (secateurs, pruning saw, shears, knife, etc.).
- Put the plant back into its pot. Now that the roots are efficiently pruned, the plant is ready to go back to its original pot, which can now accommodate it perfectly. Again you’ll want the soil to be a bit moist to sift right between the roots. Afterward, you can continue to follow your regular maintenance schedule to ensure the roots receive the right amount of nutrients and hydration.
Observing a rigid watering schedule is especially important after a root pruning session. Therefore, you’ll want to be extra cautious as your plant settles in.
Be patient and make sure to water frequently; however, always make sure to let the soil fully dry between sessions – you still don’t want to risk root rot!
Moreover, if you haven’t pruned your plant’s stems and branches in a while, now might be a good time to do so.
The freshly cut roots might not be able to sustain the same weight and height that they used to; therefore, if your plant is especially sizey, you might want to give its exterior a cut as well.
If space isn’t an issue, you might (rightfully) feel apprehensive about pruning your greenery. However, as a plant becomes too tall, its structural integrity will suffer as well.
Therefore, you’ll want to make sure that you at least provide some support for it to continue growing without risking getting deformed, or worse, leaning/falling over.
Before diving into some of the best ways to provide structural support for your plants, it’s crucial to note that not all of them require it. For example, cascading plants like Creeping Thyme won’t benefit from vertical or horizontal support.
However, considering that most houseplants grow either vertically or horizontally, it’s safe to assume that yours could benefit from this practice. If your greenery is drooping down or growing outward, it might be time to think of a way to provide it with some external support.
Some of the best ways to provide structural support to your plant include:
- Wire shapes
- Moss poles
Repotting is another excellent way to deal with an overgrown plant without reducing its size.
When your greenery grows big enough, its roots will start overcrowding their container, leading to an insufficient supply of nutrients and hydration. Moreover, a smaller pot simply isn’t able to support the height and weight of a plant several times its size.
If you’re looking for a handy guide on how to safely repot your plant, I highly recommend checking out this one from Well and Good.
How To Prevent a House Plant From Getting Too Tall
The saying “prevention is better than cure” rings true even when it comes to caring for your overgrown plants. The easiest, most convenient way to combat this issue is to prevent it from occurring in the first place.
Here are some tips to help you prevent a house plant from getting too tall:
- Maintain a regular pruning schedule. Don’t wait until your plant has grown out of control to bring out the secateurs. By keeping up with your pruning schedule, you’ll keep your greenery’s size in check while ensuring healthy growth and longevity.
- Divide the plant. As you notice your plant getting a bit too tall for comfort, you can divide it into two separate pots to keep its growth under control. If you’re interested in learning more about the practice, check out this read.
- Move the plant to a darker area. Cutting back your plant’s light exposure is one of the safest ways to keep it from growing out of control. However, be careful not to make too drastic of a change, as doing so could cause irreparable damage to your plant.
When a house plant gets too tall, it can not only clash with your interior design but also invade your personal space. Luckily, there’s no shortage of easy, convenient approaches to deal with an overgrown plant.
When a house plant gets too big, you can either prune it, provide some structural support, or repot it.
If you’re wondering how to stop indoor plants from growing too big, this article is for you: How to Stop an Indoor Plant from Growing Too Big (9 Tips)