How-To-Pinch-Back-Seedlings

April is right around the corner, and many gardeners are preparing for the last remnants of chilly weather to disappear in favor of bright sunshine and warm spring days. During this pre-planting time, you can begin brushing up on preparations and practices that will help your red rose plants and housewarming plants grow to their fullest potential and look their very best this season.

One strategy that many experienced gardeners and plant-lovers turn to when working with new seedlings is "pinching back." This technique is meant to simultaneously encourage and control plants' growth throughout the season. As flora begin to thrive in early spring, their stems can grow quite long. Over time, an extended stem may look somewhat bare, as branches and leaves will become spaced out from each other. Pinching back allows a gardener to keep plants growing at a manageable size while also forcing them to grow extra branches and leaves, according to BCGreenhouses.com. While this is a difficult practice that requires careful consideration, the end result produces fuller, bushier plants. Here are some tips on getting started.

How Does It Work?
The process of pinching back a plant involves shearing off part of the growing stem, reports HowStuffWorks.com. By removing the growth bud at the top of the stem, the plant must suddenly adjust its efforts. Rather than continuing to climb upward, the specimen will actually sprout new buds that will grow outward from side to side. As these new offshoots mature, they will produce leaves and flowers in closer proximity to others on the plant. Pinching back can be repeated to keep flora shorter and fuller - an aesthetic that many gardeners find to be neater and more appealing.

When To Pinch?
Of course, any time you're manipulating a plant's growth through pruning, you run the risk of harming or killing the specimen, so it's vital that you know exactly when to pinch back. When working with seedlings, VegetableGardener.com recommends this technique during the period of rapid growth early in the season. However, pinching too early can stunt development when flora is still in a fragile state. The site suggests waiting until plants are approximately three to four inches tall and have a healthy number of leaves already.

How To Pinch?
According to GardeningKnowHow.com, you can either use your fingers (where the term "pinch" comes from) or a pair of pruning shears to pinch back plants. You'll want to cut the very top of the stem along with the highest set of leaves, leaving a lower leaf node clear to begin growing new branches.