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Pinching Out Question

I've fallen foul of the sideways picture grr!  Anyway, pinching out is a new concept to me, but many gardening things are.  I have these Dahlia seedlings - should they be pinched out yet or do they need to be a bit taller?


  • clarke.bruntclarke.brunt Posts: 215
    edited March 2021
    There's not really enough there to pinch out yet. The idea is that side-shoots will grow from the 'leaf axils' - that's the places where the leaves join the main stem. At the moment, there are 3 pairs of leaves on each seedling, the bottom pair of which are the 'cotyledons' - seed-leaves, which were once inside the seed, and often have a different appearance to the proper leaves of the plant. The only place you could reasonably 'pinch' at the moment is at the bit of main stem below the top pair of leaves - low enough to ensure you take out the 'growing point', but not so low as to damage the next pair of leaves down. That would only leave 2 pairs of leaves on each seedling, so not many places for the sideshoots to grow from. So wait until the seedlings have more pairs of leaves.

    None of this is hard and fast rules. You don't need to pinch at all - it's just that we seem to prefer a bushy plant, rather than a dominant single stem - it will grow side-branches of its own anyway, but probably not as strongly as when its main growing point is pinched out.
  • Mary370Mary370 Posts: 2,003
    I would pot them into 3" pots.......
  • Thanks @clarke.brunt I will hold off doing anything yet.

    @Mary370 are you saying the pot is too big then?  I get that I should probably separate them quite soon, I just measured the pot they're in and it's 4 inches.
  • gardenman91gardenman91 Posts: 429
    @Crazybeelady I think @Mary370 meant they should now be in their own 3 inch pot :smile:
  • BenCottoBenCotto Posts: 4,266
    The current issue of Gardening Which has a feature on pinching out bedding plants. Their testing shows pinching out seed sown dahlias is not worth it. Pinched out plants were, contrary to what you might expect, leggier, had fewer flowers and a less attractive shape. Unpinched plants were bushier with more flowers and more buds.

    The article recommends pinching out sunflowers and antirrhinums but counsels against pinching out dahlias while for petunias and tagetes it made no difference.
    Rutland, England
  • Thanks @BenCotto, maybe I won't bother then!
  • Bright starBright star Posts: 1,145
    I just read that too @BenCotto, I’m going to follow Gardening Which? advice this year.
    Life's tragedy is that we get old too soon and wise too late.

  • Hi there, looking for advice on pinching out garden peas please. Here is my tallest garden pea, which part would I need to pinch? Would it need pinching where the blue, yellow, or red marking be? Thanks
  • clarke.bruntclarke.brunt Posts: 215
    edited March 2021
    Hi there, looking for advice on pinching out garden peas please...
    I don't know specific advice for garden peas - someone else can come along with that - whether pinching is helpful at all. But of the places marked: blue is just a leaf - removing a leaf is pointless; yellow and red are indeed the main stem - fairly equivalent, with one leaving one more leaf than the other. The side-shoots would grow from where each leaf joins the main stem.

    What I'm calling a 'leaf' has a pair of leaflet-like things called 'stipules' where it meets the main stem, then a pair of leaflets, then a tendril at the tip. Sometimes there might be more than one pair of leaflets.

    Just stuck in that explanation as it's easy to forget that people might not know what's being described. With tomatoes, people might not know what a 'truss' is, and I once saw a photo where someone had removed most of the leaves from their tomatoes, thinking they were unwanted side-shoots.
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