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Pinching Indoor and Outdoor Plants into Beautiful Specimens

Gardeners and garden books often tell you to pinch back your plants for fuller more compact growth. But we often fail to give the details that put you at ease and increase your success.

Pinching is used by gardeners to remove part of the plant.  This term is usually used with flowers and houseplants.  Many people use their fingers to break off part of the stem.  Others use sharp garden scissors or hand pruners for quicker more precise results. 

A soft pinch removes just the upper most portion of the stem where the leaves and tip are starting to develop.  A hard pinch removes a longer portion of the stem.  The tip and several inches of stem are usually removed.  These stem pieces can be used to start new plants. Pinch stems just above a set of leaves so the remaining plant still looks good while you wait for new leaves and stems to grow.

A bit more information: Pinching removes a growth hormone produced in the stem tip called auxin. This hormone encourages upward growth of the stem. Removing the stem tip reduces the auxin and allows more branches to develop along the stem.


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