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When and Where to Pinch

Posted by joytwo1839 z6 TN (My Page) on
Thu, Mar 27, 08 at 16:05

I have Sunflowers, Zinnias, Cleome,Squash, and Cucumbers
in flats. I know you are supposed to wait until the first true leaves (the second set?) and then you pinch or do you wait until it has three sets and pinch off the top set. This really shouldn't be this difficult. I'm just trying to do it the "right" way this time/
I can't figure out why, but I cannot get those short, full plants like everyone else. Mine are always tall and thin.

Follow-Up Postings:

RE: When and Where to Pinch

Hi joy - not everything should be pinched you know? ;) This is especially true for vegetables.

Sunflowers? Guess it depends on the variety but most of the large classic sf I am familiar with are single woody stem varieties that won't tolerate pinching. Can't help you with the cleome as I have never grown them from seed, but I do have several varieties of zinnias growing and only a few of them require any topping.

Perhaps, if you are having difficulty with consistently tall, thin transplants, then the real cause is insufficient light rather than the 'need to pinch'. Possible?

But if you wish to pinch things then go with a snip just above the junction of the main stem and the second set of true leaves (so 2 sets remain on the plant). Hope this is of help to you.


RE: When and Where to Pinch

No pinching needed on the cleome either, it grows on a single woody stem similar to sunflowers.

Not enough light is usually the culprit to "leggy" plants.
Also, a very gentle fan in the area of the growing seedlings also encourages stronger stem growth.

RE: When and Where to Pinch

  • Posted by ornata London UK (8/9?) (My Page) on
    Fri, Mar 28, 08 at 11:13

... No need to pinch Cleome, but you can do it if you want bushy plants.

RE: When and Where to Pinch

So, if it grows on one woody stem, don't pinch? Can you give me a couple of yes and no?
I hate to be dumb but I want to be really good by the time I get a "real" greenhouse

RE: When and Where to Pinch

Honestly, most things don't require any pinching. It isn't a health issue but simply an appearance issue and so it's need is purely subjective. So, general guidelines:

If something is long, leggy, lanky, droopy as a result of too little growing light then transplant it deeply instead of pinching (unless it is a bulb or rhizome) and increase the light it gets.

NO: definitely not vegetables (exception noted below), woody single stem plants, tomatoes, peppers, fall flowering plants or shrubs, morning glories, vining plants, some rose varieties, anything grown from a bulb or rhizome

YES: (optional only, not required) geraniums, begonias, fuchsias, snap dragons, ivy, coleus, house plants, members of pumpkin/squash family that are the vining varieties only after well established in the garden - more female blooms develop on the side shoots.


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