Pinching Back: Tips For Pinching A Plant
Pinching back a plant is one of the most common ways to increase its size. Pinching back a plant can be done during any stage of life or at anytime during flowering. You can pinch back your own plants or those grown from seeds.
There are many different methods for pinching back a plant, but there are three main types of techniques:
1) The “old school” method:
The old school method involves using scissors or tweezers to pinch the tip of a flower, stem, leaf or fruit off of a plant. This technique is very easy to do, but it’s not always effective. It usually results in only a few leaves being removed from the plant rather than all of them.
2) The “new school” method:
The new school method involves using sharp pruning shears (or other similar tools). These tools cut through the plant quickly and cleanly without leaving any visible damage. They’re much easier to use than scissors and they don’t leave any cuts behind.
3) The “method I learned from my mom”:
The method I learned from my mother involves cutting into the base of the stem with a pair of needle nose pliers. This technique works best if you have access to a sharp knife or razor blade. The cuts made by a blade are cleaner and more precise than the ones made with pliers.
When To Pinch Back A Plant:
Pinching back a plant should be done at anytime during it’s life cycle (unless you’re pinching back a root or a bulb). Some people like to pinch back the terminal bud right after they’ve planted their seedlings to promote branching. Some people like to pinch back during the vegetative stage of life to encourage a bushier plant.
Some people like to pinch back during the budding stage to promote heavier budding on the branches that remain.
When pinching back is not effective:
There are some plants that do not respond well to pinching back. These plants tend to grow stronger when you pinch them back and they also tend to produce larger yields. Plants such as these include blueberry bushes, holly bushes and magnolia trees.
How To Pinch Back A Plant:
1) Use the point of a sharp knife or razor blade to create a cut into the stem where you want to make a pinch.
2) Insert two fingers inside the slit that you’ve made and hold the stem firmly.
3) Pinch the stem with your thumb and index finger.
4) Continue pinching until you notice that the stem begins to weaken or until the point where you can’t pinch anymore.
5) The stem should snap off at the base of the plant leaving a visible (but barely noticeable) cut.
NOTE: Make sure to always sterilize your tools before and after each use.
How To Use Pinching:
Pinching is an easy technique to learn and use. A few examples of where and when you might want to use pinching are below:
1) Pinching can be used to increase the number of branches that grow on your plant.
By pinching the terminal bud (the bud at the very top of a stem) you can force more lateral growth and create more branches.
2) Pinching can be used to create a shorter and bushier plant.
The goal of this technique is to increase the amount of light that reaches each individual branch by making them closer together.
3) Pinching can be used to stop a plant’s flowering cycle.
By pinching away the terminal bud (the bud at the very top of the stem) a grower can prevent the plant from flowering. This can be useful for growers who want to harvest their plant multiple times or who want to save their plant from dying after it has flowered.
Pinching is a technique that not many growers use and that’s why it tends to be under-rated. These days greenhouse growers use more complex techniques like bending and tying the plants into shapes. Pinching is a simple technique that can be just as effective.
The trick is to pinch at the right time so that your plant grows the way you want it to. It’s also important to remember that you’ll need to do some pruning during the vegetative stage in order to create and shape the plant of your dreams.
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Sources & references used in this article:
Influence of pinching back on the growth and yield parameters of sweet potato varieties in Southeastern Nigeria by NL Aniekwe – Journal of Animal and Plant Sciences, 2014 – m.elewa.org
Pinching clip by T Tanaka – US Patent 4,071,930, 1978 – Google Patents
Pinching can increase faba bean yield and yield characteristics by JA Olfati, SH Malakouti – International Journal of Vegetable …, 2013 – Taylor & Francis
The influence of pinching on the growth, flowering pattern and yield of butternuts (Cucurbita moschata) by B Eve, M Tuarira, M Moses… – … Ornamental Plants, 2016 – mail.premierpublishers.org
Relationship between azalea bud morphology and effectiveness of methyl decanoate, a chemical pinching agent. by LZ Sill, PV Nelson – Journal of the American Society of Horticultural …, 1970 – cabdirect.org
Producing Double-stemmed Tomato Seedlings by Cutting Propagation, Pinching, and Plant Bioregulators Application by KY Jung, BH Kang, YJ Park, JM Lee – HortScience, 2004 – journals.ashs.org
Use of plant growth regulators to enhance branching of Clematis spp by SE Puglisi – Master of Science, Department of Horticultural …, 2002 – floramelitensis.com