Like HowStuffWorks on Facebook!

How to Control Garden Growth


Pinching Back

Pinch annuals like coleus, browallia, and petunias to keep them full. These plants can get tall and gangly as they grow. Removing the top inch or two of stem will correct this. More is at work here than shortening the stem. Removing the terminal bud (at the stem tip) forces side branches to grow, making the plant fuller.

Also pinch perennial asters and mums. Remove the stem tip with a pinch of your fingernails or with pruning shears to keep the plants compact and bushy. Flowering plants purchased in a pot have been specially treated to make the plants bushy and full. If left untouched the following year, they will grow tall, scraggly stems that are more likely to need staking.

If you want fewer but larger flowers on your peonies, pinch off two of the three flower buds in a cluster on a single stem, well before they are ready to open. The plant's energy will be routed to the remaining bud. Blossoms of peaches, apples, and roses can be thinned, too.

Shear reblooming perennials such as catmint and Moonglow coreopsis to promote a second flush of flowers. Getting rid of the old flowers and seedpods encourages new growth, new buds, and new flowers.

Keep reading to learn about weeding.

Want more information about gardening? Try:

  • Garden Care: Find all the tools you need to care for your garden.
  • Annuals: Explore beautiful and versatile annual plants and flowers.
  • Perennials: Learn all about the plants and flowers that make up these garden must-haves.
  • Gardening: Find out everything you need to know about all aspects of gardening.

More to Explore