Weekend Projects

Try This Happy, Healthy-Looking Plant Tip I Learned from My Mom

updated Nov 4, 2022
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Credit: Submitted by Dean Sameshima

Apartment Therapy Weekend Projects is a guided program designed to help you get the happy, healthy home you’ve always wanted, one weekend at a time. Sign up now for email updates so you never miss a lesson.

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I remember many mortified moments growing up, in doctor’s offices or at the bank teller window, for example, where my mother would pick the brown leaves off the plants as she waited or made small talk. Embarrassed as I was, no one else ever seemed to mind—probably because a pruned plant is a happy plant!

Every time my mother would finish “editing” a plant like this, she’d say with her signature sparkle smile, “See? Look at how happy it looks now!” People would laugh and thank her, which is no surprise because my mom is one of the most disarming and vivacious people you’ll meet.

Guess what? When it comes to plant-plucking, I’ve turned into my mother. I don’t have the boldness to tear dead leaves from plants in public, but I do it at home, and I derive a very familiar joy.

Credit: Joe Lingeman/Apartment Therapy

This Weekend: Prune the dead parts from your plants.

Because your plants are unobtrusively present in your surroundings, you may not notice some of the leaves that are far past their prime. By taking the time to visit each of your plants with an eye to how you can make them look their best, you can remove every part that detracts from their appearance.

Here’s what you may need:

Walk around your whole home, stopping to review each of your houseplants—both indoor and outdoor ones. When you see dead leaves, dormant stems, or brown parts of leaves, cut them away.

It’s fine to pluck dead leaves or stems with your hands when possible, just don’t pull too hard, or you may damage the healthy part of your plant. For tougher stems or to remove brown leaf tips and edges, use scissors or pruning shears. Don’t forget to disinfect your shears between plants to prevent transferring any diseases or pests.

If you have any flowering plants with spent blooms, pluck those off as well.

You can also use this one-on-one time to generally take stock of how your plant seems to be doing. Look out for discoloration, strange smells, leggy stems, or any other warning signs that your plant needs a little extra TLC. Check out Apartment Therapy’s complete guide for how to take care of plants.

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You can catch up with weekend projects right here. Share your progress with us and others by posting updates and photos on Instagram and Twitter with the hashtag #atweekendproject.

Remember: This is about improvement, not perfection. Each week, you can either choose to work on the assignment we’ve sent you, or tackle another project you’ve been meaning to get to. It’s also completely okay to skip a weekend if you’re busy or not feeling the assignment.