Now that many of us have got the majority of our planting done for the season it’s time to think about ways to keep your plants looking great all summer. An easy trick that a lot of people are sometimes afraid to do is pinch your plants. Usually people are afraid they may harm the plant or simply don’t want to remove any of its flowers or stems. Don’t be afraid, pinching can be very beneficial for the plants and helps them to look even better as the summer goes on.
Giving your annuals a “light” pinch by removing the very tips of the stems will encourage new growth and branching which then gives the plant a fuller look and typically results in more flowers. In general you want to pinch just above last “node” of the stem which is where the plant has last branched. A great example of a plant that does great when pinched is coleus. If you continue to lightly pinch it once every week or two throughout the summer the plant will continue to get fuller and fuller. If you don’t pinch it every so often the plant will still look good, however it won’t get as full as one that’s been pinched. There are some plants that require no pinching at all and naturally branch well on their own like calibrachoa. Pinching wouldn’t hurt them but since the plant does well on its own there is really no need. If you’re ever unsure just ask because often times once you’ve started pinching it becomes addictive when you see how much better your plants look throughout the summer.
Beyond pinching I have to mention fertilizing. If you haven’t already gotten into a routine for fertilizing your containers and flowerbeds you should. In containers I recommend fertilizing with a liquid fertilizer, once a week. Liquid fertilizers are taken up by the plants quicker than granular fertilizers. Because containers are constantly leaching out their nutrients, it is important to fertilize them more frequently than the annuals in your flowerbeds. Annuals in flowerbeds don’t have to be fertilized as often. I would recommend fertilizing them every two or three weeks. Well balanced liquid or granular fertilizers work best. No matter what fertilizer you use, always be sure to read the label and follow the dosage instructions carefully. Too much fertilizer can quickly damage or kill your plants.