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Trimming plants for the first time

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11 minutes ago, KyleKVK said:


I've never trimmed aquarium plants before. For stem plants, I should cut, remove the "top half", remove some of the leaves from the bottom of the "top half", plant the "top half" in the substrate (or throw it away if you want).

For root plants, I should just cut dead/decaying leaves. That's it. Do I have it right?

Yes, you got it. But I tend to replace the "cut" portions with the newly cut tops in some of my lower light tanks after a few months -- the bottom portions tend to get leggy. If you want to trim rooted plants like swords/crypts beyond just the bad leaves, just trim the outer leaves first.

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For a lot of stem plants you sometimes want to prune back harder than you think because the plant is going to send new shoots out of the top most leaf nodes left on the plant. This will thicken the plants up, but if you trim too high, your encouraging that growth to start higher and not lower. The look in the end tends to be very top heavy, with bare bottoms. Pruning heavy might make your tank look barren at first, but if you have patients, the plants fill in nicely over time. Also, take the trimmings you cut and replant those in and around the pruned plants.  When I had a lot of stem plants I would cut them back by about 2/3 their original height. For things like swords and crypts, I just remove overly large or old bad looking leaves. 

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