pinch off growing tip?

Spring, TX(Zone 9a)

hi all,
for the first time in my life, this season, i planted some, what a thrill to watch them pop up in just a few days...
y'all have already given me advice on "thinning" them...and i have followed the directions on the seed packets as many of you had suggested...

what the seed packets didn't mention, but what i have only recently learned about is: "pinching off the growing tip"

this is news to me, i had to look it up to see what that was all about...

my questions:
- should i do this with all of my seedlings? or is that only recommended with certain annual flowers?
- what if the first "true" leaves form on top of the growing tip? (or at least, that's what it looks like) then how do i pinch them?
- what if my seedlings are already several inches tall with a few leaves - is it too late?
- is pinching the tip necessary for the survival and health of the plant? or is it only to make it fuller and bushier? i thought i might experiment and do some with pinching and some without, to see what the different outcome is...

here is what i planted in case it helps you answer:
- zinnia
- aster
- marigolds
- bachelor buttons
- impatiens
- bells of ireland
- strawflower helichrysum
- morning glory
- cosmos

i know that i will probably kill most of this come the summer time heat, which is why i'm experiementing with so i said, i was just thrilled when they poked their little heads out of the soil - so whatever happens next is simply icing on the cake!

thanks in advance for any advice!


Spring, TX(Zone 9a)

wow, dropped down the page quickly because of all the IDs

Spring, TX(Zone 9a)

this will be my last bump...
then i'll just assume i asked some dumb questions!
hehe :)

Bella Vista, AR(Zone 6b)

Hey, I'm not an expert, but I never pinch seedlings. I always wait until the plant is well established. Once it is going strong you can make it fuller and have more blooms by pinching off the top of each little "branch"...the part that will end up making buds. Then your plant will usually send out at least two "branches" at each area you pinched off. I have never heard of pinching morning glories, but we have them wild here.

Woodway, TX(Zone 8a)

Cosmos are just the most wonderful flowers ever. They play out after a few weeks, BUT they will reseed if you will just leave them alone, and you may have three crops in one year!

Growing things from seed is a great experience.


Montclair, NJ

Out of your list, I grow marigolds, zinnias, cosmos, and morning glories. I pinch out the tops of the marigolds and zinnias after they have a few sets of true leaves. They are never too big to pinch out, that is partly what you are doing when you deadhead in the summer. The plants have buds in the nodes of the leaves that are encouraged to grow new stems, and new growth tips, when the main tip is pinched out. This leads to bushier plants. If you are want height in a plant, though, like cosmos and morning glories, don't pinch, and they will be taller, but not bushy. I am growing the black-eyed susan vine, and I pinched it after two sets of true leaves, and now each plant has from 2 to 4 vines.

I highly recommend you experiment, that's the best way to understand how each plant develops. Good luck and have fun!

Hermitage, PA(Zone 5b)

Whether or not I pinch my plants depends upon the timing. I don't like to delay my first blooms -- so I don't pinch everything -- but when I am planting, sometimes I will pinch every other one -- so I get early blooms AND bushy plants -- not just one the same plant.

However, many of the popular varieties now are more or less "self branching" -- I get huge marigolds without ever pinching off, although I do deadhead the spent flowers early in the season. Later -- I let them mature to gather seeds for next season.

An exception is if the plants get away from me and get too tall before I get them planted. However, getting them outside to harden off goes a long way toward avoiding that. Also -- if you sent a fan up so it blows on your seedlings, this also helps to strengthen the stems -- and make sure they have adaquate light. I like to say I "take my plants for a walk" daily -- and get them outside and leave them there longer each day -- until I get so many of them that I get tired of carrying them back and forth. Now I am at the "let them outside unless it is going to freeze" stage.

I also like to plant my seedlings in a zigzag manner in the bed, rather than in a straight row. That way, they LOOK fuller than they really are, because instead of seeing the empty space between plants -- you see the plant in the second row.

Congratulations on your successful seeding -- and good luck with your "babies".


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