Questions and Answers about Potted Plants

Question:
The leaves on my five-foot ficus benjamina seem to die and drop off, but the tree continues to grow. Would pruning stimulate more foliage on the lower branches? And when and how often should I prune? Also when is it all right to repot now or wait until spring?

Answer:
It is normal for the lower leaves on your ficus benjamina to drop off. Moving the pot, a draft or a change in temperature can also increase leaf droppage. Cutting back stems at the desired height should help it produce new, compact growth. Another way to control the height is by cutting the roots down and returning it to the same pot. Pruning once a year in the spring (this would also be the time to repot) should be adequate.

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Question:
How do I prune a Spathiphyllum houseplant? I trimmed the dead heads off, but the yellow stems didn't look so great so I also cut them to just above where the stems were still green, about halfway up from their bases. Is that the right way to prune them?

Answer:
The Spathiphyllum is a very hardy houseplant. Generally, I would recommend just snipping off the dried flowers. Cutting a little lower shouldn't do any harm to your plant. Next time, try just removing the dried flower and give it a little time before cutting off more.

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Question:
My rosemary plant that is approximately five years old. I have never really pruned it except for pinching it for cooking. I bring it indoors for the winter. At first it dries out and browns out, then it seems to perk up a bit. I need to prune it to make it healthier, bushier, and have a better overall appearance. Can I prune it now? How do I do it?

Answer:
I hope you have checked out our article "The Joys of Herb Gardening".

It is good to let these plants go through a few weeks of freezing night temperatures. Once you bring them indoors, they will end their period of dormancy and should start with fresh new growth.

Prune your Rosemary plant anytime. An occasional cutback is good for this variety. Start by removing old and damaged branches. Cut back and reshape as desired. These cuttings can be dried or preserved to be used in cooking at a later date.

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