Tropical plants bring great colour and splash to our gardens, when winter comes it’s sad to think of letting them fall victim to our Canadian winters. If you’re overwintering your plant indoors, you must prune it beforehand for best results. We’ve put together a guide to pruning the most popular species. It’s best to prune your plant when you are bringing it in for the winter, near the middle-end of October.


How to prune hibiscusWith a clean pair of pruning shears, remove most of the growth that occurred during the current year. If the plant has been pruned before, the cut from the last pruning show be evident. Make your cut 1-3 leaves/buds beyond that point. If this is your first time pruning the plant, look for a good, strong bud facing the outside of the plant to make your cut. The buds are located at the base of the leaf. The best plant growth will occur at the buds immediately below your cut, so imagine where you want the new branches to start growing before making your cut. This is also a good time to remove any weak, damaged or crisscrossed stems. If you are nervous about pruning, remember that spindly, weak stems will likely break anyways. Pruning encourages thick, healthy growth! A light pinch/trim of the branches may be needed for final shaping in mid-March. Do not trim too late in spring as this delays flowering!


Before and after pruning mandevillaWith a clean pair of pruning shears, cut each stem 3-4 buds up from the base, approximately 8-12 inches in most cases. Buds are located at the base of the leaves. If there are no leaves, look for a scar or ridge on the stem where the leaves used to be. Clip just above this point. New growth will be forced from the remaining buds. Mandevilla tends to lose their lower leaves with age and this method of pruning will keep them full and bushy. Their sap drips and can be quite sticky, so this is a job best done outside. The sap will stop running and dry shortly after pruning.


Before and after pruning dipladeniaBest done with sharp, clean scissors. While leaving the main upright stems alone, shear off the side and top shoots, leaving about 2-3 leaves worth of stem on each shoot. The buds located at the base of those leaves will produce new growth. Basically, shear it to the shape of whatever it is growing on. Thin out areas of heavy growth to promote airflow/brightness to the plant interior. This plant also has very sticky sap, which dries fairly quickly after clipping. Using baby oil after pruning helps to remove sap from your skin.

Brugmansia (Angel’s Trumpet)

Before and after pruning brugmansiaWith a pair of clean pruning shears, remove almost all of this seasons growth. Last years growth show be brown and woody, why this years growth is likely still greenish. New buds are located at the base of each leaf, so find one in that location (preferably facing away from the centre of the plant) and make your cut just above that point. This plant grows fairly quickly and a light repeat trim may be required in February/March to keep plant from looking leggy.