Last updated: November 19, 2021

What Does Pinching Mean?

Pinching is a method of plant pruning used to encourage plants to form multiple branches, rather than a single shoot. For instance, pinching off the top of an herb or vegetable plant will usually stop upright growth, and cause the plant to form several branches just under the point where the top was pinched off.


Maximum Yield Explains Pinching

Pruning is often thought of as applying more to fruit trees than other plants, but the truth is that it is important for almost all plants grown particularly for food or use in cooking. Pinching is a manual form of pruning used with vegetable plants and herbs that discourages further vertical growth and encourages plants to form branches just beneath the pinched-off point.

With herbs, pinching the plant forces it to create two new stems, and thus more of the leaves that are the most desirable portion of the plant. In vegetables, pinching can keep plants compact, but encourage them to fill out and grow fuller, providing more branches (and stems) on which fruits can grow.

Pinching is also used in flower gardening and can be an important method for keeping a flowerbed arranged at the desired height. By pinching plants in forward rows, you prevent them from growing taller and obscuring plants in the center or rearmost rows. Not only is this important for aesthetics, but it can also help ensure that plants at the rear or center of the bed are able to receive adequate light, without competition from the surrounding plants.

Deadheading is a form of pinching that is used to encourage annuals and perennials to continue flowering throughout the growing season.

Pinching is done with the tips of your fingers (or fingernails), or it can be done with garden shears. Simply pinch or snip off the end of a shoot just above the leaf node.


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Plant GrowthCanopy ManagementPruning

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