Pruning - Don't Be Afraid
Just like getting a haircut, pruning is critical to keeping plants healthy and producing well. Not only does trimming and pruning keep plants well-sized for getting the right amount of water and nutrients in your AeroGarden, but it keeps them from overcrowding and blocking the light from smaller plants that you may be growing.
Prune taller, faster-growing plants from the top to keep them an inch or two below the grow lights as they mature. This ensures that shorter, slower growing plants get the light they need to thrive. If you raise the grow light hood too soon just to accommodate the tall plants, the short plants will not receive enough light and could die off. We want to keep the lights as close to the plants as possible for as long as possible. When growing things like Basil and oregano at the same time, you'll want to keep the basil trimmed often. It grows much faster and without pruning, will force you to move the grow lights up before the oregano has had a chance to mature.
Leaves and branches that encroach on the space of others should also be trimmed to open up light to the entire garden. Some plants will never grow as tall or as stout as others, so just be sure they are all getting enough light to remain hearty and healthy. The rule of thumb is to prune no more than 1/3 of any plant (the entire plant, not 1/3 of the stem) at once, so just a snip here and there should do the trick. When pruning, trim the leaves and stems, but never the main stalk of the plant that's growing out of your seed pod.
Pruning vegetables is just as important as pruning herbs. It can seem intimidating, but with plants like tomatoes and peppers, they can grow quite bushy and crowd their space. It's important to trim back shoots and stems early on so they don't collapse under their own weight or grow up into the lights and burn. You can learn more about pruning your tomatoes in our article here.