The importance of ‘Pinching Back’ annuals is key to lush looking plants. Annuals of all kinds, flowers and herbs, are a wonderful addition to your summer garden. They add a color and texture to your landscape. The invite pollinators. They add flavor to your light summer dinners. But after 4-6 weeks of growing in your garden, you may notice plants becoming long and scraggly and having fewer blooms. You may see herbs beginning to flower or ‘bolt’.
What is a gardener to do?!
This is the time to be pinching back, in otherwords pruning, your annuals to help encourage them to become fuller plants and continue to bloom. It may seem counter productive to cut back more of what you want, but your plants will reward you with renewed growth. Pinching back Coleus, Zinnias, Snapdragons, Petunias and others will create a bushier plant. Pinch or use small pruners just above a place on the stem where you see new small leaves forming. The small leaves will send out new stems so the plant can grow horizontally as well as vertically, creating a less leggy plant.
If you have herbs like basil that are beginning flower you need to cut back the plant because flowers will change the flavor of your basil. Flowering is the step the plant takes to produce seed and once they go to seed, the plant will cease to produce edible leaves. Check out this great video for tips on cutting back basil.
One last tip, dont forget to give your plants a dose of fertilizer after pinching back to help energize new growth in the plant.