What is pinching?
The act of pinching involves the removal of the growing point of a shoot along with few leaves. About 1-2 cm of a growing shoot of a young plant is snapped off with fingers. Pinching is done mostly in annuals and herbaceous perennials. It is hardly required for any trees or shrubs.
Why do pinching?
The two primary purposes of pinching are to encourage branching to produce a bushy growth and the production of flower buds on the branch which is pinched. The plant subjected to pinching will be more bushy, compact and will give more flowers or vegetables. It will also prolong the period of flowering.
Some plants have a habit of growing lanky, which presents an unpleasant look; or it often happens that one shoot of a plant starts thriving at the expense of others. Such plants should be pinched when they are still young.
The process causes the dormant buds in the leaf axils to grow, forming a bushier and dwarfish plant. Pinching of a single active shoot at the proper stage is likely to encourage the growth of the weaker shoots, and finally, a shapely plant is obtained. Buy plants online in India.
When is the right time to pinch a plant?
Pinching is done at the stage when the plants are young and between 7 to 15 cm in height, depending on their habits of growth. Usually, young seedlings that have not yet reached the flowering stage are pinched. The young shoots are full of sap and brittle in the morning; therefore it is better to do pinching at that time.
Should we use any tools for pinching?
Since the shoots pinched are of herbaceous nature, no special tool is needed for pinching. Sometimes the help of a knife or a shaving blade can be used. However, some viral diseases of plants may get transmitted through pinching blade from a diseased plant to a healthy one. Therefore, as far as possible pinching should be done by snapping by hand.
When to pinch main apical shoot?
Pinching of single, main apical growing shoot is also called as stopping. An essential purpose of stopping is to reduce apical dominance entirely by removing this rapidly growing a central apical shoot.
The main growing shoot bears the flowers earliest. By pinching off this shoot, it is stopped from flowering early. The seasonal flowering plants which need stopping include Dahlia, Chrysanthemum, Carnation, Marigold, Petunia, etc.
Stopping is practiced in bushy or trailing vegetable plants like Chilli, Pumpkin, Cucumber, Bottle gourd, etc. Stoppings are also done with household medicinal and kitchen herbs like Patta Ajwain, Tulsi, mint, Rosemary, etc.
When to pinch lateral shoots?
For an erect, tall plant with less bushy growth do not perform apical pinching (stopping). Instead, remove the side shoots from the axis of the leaf joint, to let the energy of the plant be diverted wholly to the flowering stem.
Such kind of lateral pinching is practiced in flowering annuals like Balsam, Larkspur, Double stock, where large apical flowers are desired. Lateral pinching of suckers is also done in Tomato plant to obtain large sized tomatoes.
How many times can be plant pinched?
Pinching is like performing a small surgical operation on the plant, due to which the plant goes in the shock state. It is better not to pinch more than one or two big shoots, and 3-4 small shoots at a time in a plant. Avoid pinching more than two or three times during a single season.
Read more on ‘Understanding pruning’ - An important gardening activity.
Happy pinching and happy gardening!