Pinching And Dead Heading Plants For Their Own Good


Believe me when I say I am not abusing my plants when I pinch them, or cut their heads off. No, this is for their own good. Truly.

Pinch Your Plants Early

This action is very like hand pruning a plant.

Pinching is simply using your thumb and forefinger to remove the smallest growing tips of a plant. Plucking off the soft growth of plants will encourage bushiness. Also used for removing unwanted flowers, such as on Basil plants and Coleus.

Pinching back seedlings once they have enough true leaves is a common instruction for new plants. This gives thriftier growth for setting out transplants, after starting under lights indoors.

Most plants will benefit from this action, since judicious removal of the growing tips early in their season will cause the plants to be bushier and stronger. It helps the growth of the lower branches to become stimulated and improves access to light and air.

Deadhead For Continued Blooming

Another pruning action is called “dead heading”. This can be accomplished with pinching manually, or clipping with a tools such as secateurs or scissors. The purpose is to remove spent flowers. The flower heads are lopped off in this ominous sounding gardening term!

It may seem tedious, but results in a tidy scene and prolongs bloom.

Some plants don’t like to let go of their wilted and browned flowers, so removing them allows fresh bloom to take the stage. Many annuals “go to seed”, especially during a hot spell, and will stop blooming once they reach the apex of the growing cycle. Dead heading delays that time and stimulates the plant to continue flowering.

Deadheading is always a way to reduce or eliminate over-zealous seed production from plants which like to reseed the garden.

My favorite tools for deadheading: Snips!.
A review of this tool, read all about Fiskars Snips

Fiskars Multi-Snip with Sheath

Dead heading is the best way to keep annual summer flowers blooming well into Fall.

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Ilona Erwin, author

Meet the Author


I started working on this website beginning in 1998, when it was part of "Ilona's Reflecting Pool". Since then I've branched out into a number of online endeavors and work at writing lots of content for my sites. The work on "Ilona's Garden" remains my primary site and is dedicated to home gardener's success.