Cutting Leaves in Half: Should It Be Done? Here’s why


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A leaf or a segment of the leaf can be used for plant propagation. However, just removing a segment of the leaf from the plant can also bring about some benefits. 

Established leaves are cut in half to reduce the surface area without having to remove the entire leaf. As a result, there are more chances of light reaching all parts of the plant, and is also done to reduce transpiration. Sometimes, rolling up a leaf and placing a plastic bag around it also helps to reduce the effective leaf surface area.

Cutting leaves in half encourages better plant growth by reducing moisture loss and allowing more sunlight to the rest of the plant. This article will explain the benefits as well as what to look for when part of the leaf is removed.

The Benefits of Cutting Leaves in Half:

Cutting Leaves in half

If you have just started taking care of your plants, cutting leaves in half is a good activity for various reasons. Some of these benefits include:

Reduces transpiration or loss of water:

As we know, the rate of transpiration is very high compared to the usage of water by plants for photosynthesis. So it’s better to reduce the amount of water loss in the atmosphere without reducing the yield.  

To reduce water loss through leaves, many modifications are done. Among them, cutting plant leaves in half is just amazing. Plants having leaves cut in half will be losing water through evaporation at half the rate of those with full leaves.

Successful cutting can be achieved by reducing the amount of transpiration. Meanwhile, cuttings have no roots. Sometimes, it is done by spraying the cuttings with mist or putting a polythene bag on the cutting pots. Therefore, those with half leaf are not a disadvantage compared with those having full leaf.

Transpiration

Stimulate Budding – (new leaf growth)

Maybe it seems absurd that cutting leaves in half promotes budding in plants, yet it is quite helpful for maintaining robust plants. Many small regions present on the leaf surface contain growth hormones. When we cut leaves in half, these growth hormones are activated to repair the leaf tissues and stimulate the growth of new leaves. 

Promotes Root Growth

As discussed above, leaf-cutting promote the release of many growth hormones, including auxin. Auxin, a naturally occurring hormone, stimulates the root initiation in plants.  It induces both growth of pre-existing roots and lateral root initiation and also adventitious root formation. The overall development of the roots is stimulated by the transport of roots down the stem to the roots.

What Happens When you Cut Leaves in Half?

Anatomy of a leaf

In the case of leaf-cutting, one is trying to decrease surface leaf area so that the plant doesn’t lose too much water while still keeping some green to keep photosynthesis at a low level.  Partial defoliation, which includes cutting leaves in half, stimulates back-budding by allowing more light and air movement to the branches. 

It is also an effective means of managing energy flow or allotment in plants.

Will Cutting Leaves Harm the Plant?

Cutting leaves won’t hurt your plant. As plants contain meristems, so whenever we cut leaves on a plant, it will simply grow a few more at some other locations due to the ability of meristematic cells to differentiate into leaf tissues.

In case if the plant is in its embryo state and primary leaves are cut, then there are chances that a plant may die.

Moreover, cutting leaves in half on strong branches forces the plant to direct energy to the weaker branches. It helps us to limit the amount of food or energy that a plant can make.

Bacterial Infection

When a leaf is cut or removed, the inner parts of the leaf containing plant cells and their vascular system are exposed. This exposes the plant to fungi and diseases that can easily set in which can affect the entire plant.

An easy fix is to gently rub cinnamon powder on the open wound to prevent bacteria from setting in.

Cinnamon is a natural fungicide that has anti-fungal and disinfectant compounds which can protect open plant wounds.

I have used a cost-effective Liquid Fertilizer called Purived to help strengthen my plant leaves, stems, and their overall health. You can find it by clicking here!

purvied for stronger leaves

When Should Leaves be Cut?

Want to know when to cut down your leaves at the right time? We’ve got you covered. 

Leaf-cutting in half would be effective for mature leaves. Try to wait for the leaves to get fully developed. Avoid cutting new and immature leaves. The reason is that larger leaves provide greater surface area for water loss through transpiration. 

To reduce water loss more effectively, it’s better to choose larger and mature leaves as decreasing the leaf surface decreases the amount of water loss that is better for plant growth. 

Leaves can slo be cut to remove brown parts and parts that have been subjected to disease. This reduces the likelihood of the disease spreading to other areas of the plant.

It also removes the bad parts of the leaf, restoring the plant’s beauty. This would be coupled with a clean cut which mimics the natural curvature of the leaf.

Why Do People Cut Leaves from Plants?

Have you ever wondered why gardeners cut leaves from plants? How about do you know what benefits cutting the leaves gives to plants? I bet you didn’t know that it is to ensure the health of their plant.

Cloning:

Propagating plants through cutting is a classic form of cloning. One of the main advantages of cutting is that offspring produced are practically clones of their parent plants. 

Plant cloning is a simple method that helps to replicate our plants. The simplest cloning methods include cutting. 

  • Firstly, the branch of a parent plant is cut off
  • Lower leaves are removed from it
  • The stem is planted in damp compost

Plant hormones are used to promote the development of new roots. To keep the cutting moist and warm, it is usually covered in a plastic bag.

Reduce Water Loss:

Cutting is also done to reduce water loss through evapotranspiration. There are hundreds of stomata present on the leaf surface through which water is evaporated in the air. 

Water is taken up from the soil through the vascular system that begins at the roots. The primary purpose of cutting is to limit water loss through transpiration.

What Happens if all the Leaves of a Plant are Removed?

Is removing all leaves of a plant good? Nope, it’s not. The leaf plays an important role in the life cycle of the plant. The leaf is the major storer and distributor of food and energy in a plant. If all the leaves are removed from a plant, then photosynthesis stops. Without photosynthesis, the plant starves to death. 

The leaves are the main solar panels of the plant. They capture light energy and then convert it into chemical energy. Removing all the leaves from a plant makes it extremely difficult for it to perform photosynthesis. 

The plant’s critical systems–its stem, flowers, and roots would produce no food for themselves because they depend on photosynthesis. It would lose its main source of sustenance.

Furthermore, when the leaves of a plant are removed, the stem is left to work harder. It must transport water and nutrients to keep the rest of the plant alive and healthy – resulting in stress and severe trauma.

If the soil of the plant is fertile enough and if you are supplying the proper amount of water, then the chances are that it may continue to grow and regain its leaves. 

Takeaway Points:

  • Cutting leaves in half is more practical for well-established plants. 
  • It promotes the growth of new leaves and is an effective method used by gardeners to reduce water loss through transpiration in plants.
  • Moreover, cutting leaves in half also promotes root growth (both preexisting roots and lateral roots). 
  • Defoliating partially, or cutting leaves in half stimulates back-budding by allowing branches to breathe and absorb more light. 
  • Energy flow or allocation in plants can also be managed using this method.
  • The plant will also channel energy to the weaker branches when leaves are cut in half on strong branches.
  • If you were to remove all the leaves of any plant, the plant will die. 

JayLea

JayLea has a passion for plants and has been gardening since 2015. He has valuable knowledge about gardening and houseplant care and can answer everyday practical questions that every plant owner has.

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