Wednesday, May 2, 2012

Pinch, Pinch, Pinch: "Please Pinch Me!"

Okay, you know all those bushy plants you see in your garden centers? You take them home and the next year they are LAN-KY! One spindly stem with a single flower? Well, I am here to tell you a secret! It doesn't have to be that way. Nope. Most likely the plant you bought was on a chemical product to make it branch and grow bushy. I'm not a chemical girl. The big growers use these chemicals because it is effective and achieves their goal of bushy plants, it is cost effective, and the whole plant is affected, they don't miss any growing tips. The home gardener can achieve the same results, mechanical. Pinch, pinch, pinch. Here in central Wisconsin, you want to pinch back a great long list of plants so when they do bloom you get multiples and bushy plants. I pinch nearly all of the Plants on this list through at least the third week in June. Some, like goldenrod 'Fireworks' and turtlehead, I continue to pinch into the first couple weeks of July. Here's the list! Pinch away! You'll see multiple shoots coming from the leaf axials in just a few days to a week of so. You'll be glad you did when you are rewarded with multiple blooms! Turtlehead - Chelone (all) Goldenrod 'Fireworks' Asters (all) Phlox (all with the exception of subulata or creeping phlox) Beebalm - monarda Nepeta - catmint Calamintha Sedum (can be pinched, but the effect which causes branching changes the basis look of the plant) Do not pinch lilium species, echinea or coneflowers, liatris, astilbe, daylilies, hosta, geum, and iris. Trimming back panicum and miscanthus as they start sending up fresh growth can make them denser. I'm sure there are more that can be added to the "Please Pinch Me" list. Let me know if I missed your favorite!


  1. Anise hyssop, heliopsis, and boltonias also respond well to pinching. Never tried it with Panicum - thought pinching did not work with grasses. I've done ok with echinaceas, though - at least purple coneflowers.

  2. I'm so glad you said that- I'm a scared pincher and an equally bad trimmer, but sometimes these things need to be done!

  3. Gardeninacity, I've seen deer nibble coneflower and they will rebud and bloom, but it does set them back, unlike all others like hyssop and heliopsis where they seem to crave pinching and bloom longer and more heavily. Thanks for adding to my list!