• Betsy Busche

Pinching for Long Stem Cutting Flowers

Updated: Jul 19

Pinching is a useful technique to get long straight stems from branching plants that produce multiple blooms. By cutting out the central growing tip, you force the plant to grow from the base providing many more usable stems.


Summer favorites of zinnia, amaranth and celosia are all branching plants that benefit from pinching early in their lives to produce more stems. The black eyed susan grow from the base of the plant so there is no need to pinch.


The benefits of pinching include more stems of flowers, bushier plants, longer stems, control over bloom and stem size, and less junctions that weaken a harvested and stripped stem.

To actually pinch:

  • Pinch young plant  8”-12” tall

  • Use sharp, clean snips

  • Cut 3”-4” off the central stalk just above a set of leaves

  • Take care in not nicking stem or leaves

Lisa Ziegler from The Gardeners Workshop has this simple video of how to do it.


Hardy Annual Branching Plants

  • Atriplex Orach

  • Calendula

  • Carnation

  • Cerinthe Honeywort

  • Chinese Forget Me Nots

  • Dianthus

  • Feverfew

  • Godetia

  • Lambada Bee Balm

  • Snapdragons

  • Sweet Pea

Tender Annual Branching Plants

  • Ageratum

  • Amaranth

  • Anise Hyssop

  • Artemisia 

  • Cosmos

  • Celosia*

  • Didiscus

  • Dusty Miller

  • Marigold

  • Ornamental Basil

  • Sunflower*

  • Zinnia

Perennials and Bulbs that branch and can be pinched:

  • Bee Balm

  • Echinacea

  • Feverfew

  • Asters

  • Dahlia


Most perennials and bulbs grow from the base. The following should be not pinched but can be deadheaded or harvested at the ground level to promote more stems:

  • Geum

  • Columbine

  • Foxglove

  • Tall Phlox

  • Lavender

  • Lupine

  • Mints

  • Salvia

  • Shasta Daisies

  • Veronica

  • Yarrow

Don't Pinch These Types of Plants

  • Single stems - tulips, sunflowers, stock, Bombay celosia, gladiola

  • Basal branching - lisianthus, statice, iris, yarrow, rudbeckia (but harvesting or deadheading spent blooms at the base of the stem encourages more growth)

  • Don’t deadhead plants that you want a seedpod from like nigella




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