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Which annual and perenial seedlings should be 'pinched out'?

Hi all,

I am new to growing the seeds of annual bedding flowers and perennial flowers. Often I read or hear 'pinch-out' after the second set of leaves etc. Whilst I know what to do, I don’t always know which seedlings species I should do this on.

Therefore, I would love to collect a list of which annual flowers or perennial flower this 'pinching-out' is most appropriate for.

What do you experienced growers do??

Many thanks in advance




  • fidgetbonesfidgetbones Posts: 17,570

    How long is a piece of string?. it would be easier if you tell us what you have.

    Sweet peas get pinched. Most annuals I don't . Some perennials I leave the first year and then chop down hard after that. It depends really on whether it is a bushy type or a skyrocket like a hollyhock/delphinium. etc.

  • artjakartjak Posts: 4,167

    I learnt that pinching out Cosmos really works last year.

  • ElusiveElusive Posts: 992

    Dahlias are good for pinching out, this includes seeds and tubers.

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  • FairygirlFairygirl Posts: 54,754

    Pinching out encourages bushiness by producing more stems/shoots which in turn carry more buds/flowers. Leaving them just means (generally speaking) they'll grow up rather than out and will just have slightly fewer flowers. As Verd says, make sure the plants are healthy though.

    I don't grow many annuals other than sweet peas but I pinch them out to give more flower power! image

    It's a place where beautiful isn't enough of a word....

    I live in west central Scotland - not where that photo is...
  • I tend to pinch out anything that has a proper pinching out point  i.e  a leaf or nodule on the main stem below the growing point. Stop pinching out about 5 weeks before the expected first flower growth though, otherwise you will get late bloom.

    Don't pinch out windowsill chillis - they are an exception to the rule!

  • LottieGYLottieGY Posts: 45

    As I'm a relative gardening newbie, can someone explain what to do when 'pinching out'? It's a phrase I hear a lot, but don't really know what to do.

    (Sorry for hijacking the thread quickly!)

  • I'll try and explain. If you look down a plant, there is usually some top growth then several pairs of leaves, sticking out from the stem. If you were to just leave the plant like that, it will continue to grow upwards but not sideways (i.e bush out). Some new growth will probably appear just above where the lower pairs of leaves join the main stem but this new growth, which are side shoots, will not make the plant bushy unless the stronger top growth is taken off. Taking off the top shoot will allow these side shoots to grow fully and this is called pinching out. Even if you cannot see any new side shoots, pinching out above a pair of lower leaves will encourage side shoots to develop.

    To pinch out, you use your index finger and thumb to clasp the very top of the plant and you snap it off just above a strong lower pair of leaves, leaving any side shoots in place. You can also use a small pair of scissors, or a knife and your thumb.

    It isn't easy to explain but I hope that gives you some idea!

    There is a short video here which is really good and may help.

  • FairygirlFairygirl Posts: 54,754

    It just means nipping out the growing tip with your finger and thumb once the plant has two or three clear sets of leaves Lottie. If you can find DavidK's sweet pea thread on here, I think he posted some pix to give people an idea.It'll probably be around page 2, 3 or 4 of 'latest posts' as it's very popular. Or, if you put 'sweet peas' into the search window at the top of the page, it might bring it up more easily. 

    It's a place where beautiful isn't enough of a word....

    I live in west central Scotland - not where that photo is...
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