The Practice of Pinching

Ahhh...the question as old as time itself. Exactly what is “pinching” and what varieties of herbs and flowers should you pinch? Pinching, quite simply, is the practice of snipping off the top few inches of a young plant. But why?

The Facts About Pinching Young Plants

Pinching encourages the plant to produce more branches near its base below where you cut. It increases the number of stems the plant grows, which, in turn, can DOUBLE the yield of blooms a single plant will produce! It helps the plant to grow “out” instead of “up” so it is more stable and less leggy. Nature is truly amazing, isn’t it?

Now, I know what you’re thinking. “Jess, have you lost your mind? I’m not chopping the tops off all my sweet baby plants!!!” 

Listen. I was skeptical a few years ago too when I learned about pinching. The first year I tried it, I only pinched half of my pinchable plants because the idea was so counterintuitive to me. But let me tell you, it was incredible to see the difference in the size and sturdiness of a pinched versus an unpinched plant!  So, if you’re not 100% on board yet, try it with some of your seedlings and compare. I'm not going to say, "I told you so" but I told you so!

farm fresh cut flower garden asters

A Few Things To Remember 

  •  Pinch when plants are young but somewhat established. I usually wait until they have a few sets of true leaves and are generally 8”-12” tall.
  • Cut just above a set of true leaves.
  • Always give young plants a good water right after pinching.
  • 24 hours after pinching, treat them to an organic fertilizer to jump start their new growth. 

fresh cut flower farm gardener garden

    Herbs and Flowers to Pinch

    • dahlias
    • calendula
    • sweet peas
    • asters 
    • cosmos
    • sage
    • oregano
    • rosemary
    • thyme
    • basil
    • snapdragons
    • zinnias
    • phlox
    • lavender
    • verbena
    • amaranth

    Note: Pinching is great for herbs because it prolongs flowering, thus retaining the majority of the plant’s potency.

    Do NOT Pinch

    • allium
    • anemone
    • ranunculus
    • primrose
    • strawflowers
    • peony
    • hydrangea
    • delphinium
    • dianthus
    • astilbe
    • single bloom sunflowers (do, however, deadhead them to encourage more blooms)
    farm fresh cut flowers dahlias
    In the market for a great pear of garden shears? Look no further! I highly recommend the Artisan Pruning and Trimming Shears from Barebones Living
    Do you love flowers, poetry, folklore, or floriography? Do you enjoy creating with your hands or working with natural elements? Do you appreciate the art of giving meaningful gifts? If so, my book, The Love Language of Flowers, may be for you!  

    Disclaimer: This article may contain affiliate links. Cedar House Living LLC receives a small commission for sales generated through these links at no additional cost to you. I use the commissions to further expand my garden, floral, and herbal knowledge so I can continue to share what I learn with you.

    Leave a comment

    Please note, comments must be approved before they are published