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My sweet peas got a bit leggy, so I pinched out the top couple of inches, however they still seem a bit floppy (maybe they need to be planted out and not still in root trainers, but given the weather....). Should I pinch them out more, taking more off or just plant out when it warms up and give them plenty of support?

Also, which other seedlings/ young plants benefit from pinching out? I have some cerinthe seedlings that are quite tall and floppy (2 to 3 inches) although still only seed leaves, would these- once they have true leaves benefit from pinching out. Similarly, I have some sunflower young plants (Vanilla Ice) which do have true leaves but are a bit floppy too.

Is there a general rule of thumb to guide which young plants should/ shouldn't be pinched out?



Provide some support in the form of sticks for your sweetpeas and sunflowers, they sound ok.

Sweetspeas do benefit from a pinch but I've never pinched sunflowers, as most grow on one stem. Unless you have a bush variety, of course.

I am not aware of any "rule of thumb" with regards to pinching. I just learnt how to grow and treat my plants through practice, trial and error and lots and lots of reading - RHS encyclopedia was of some help, as was other reading material.

If your seeds are still in the seed leaf stage, 2-3 inches and are floppy. That is usually an indication that not enough light has been provided and their have put all the energy into searching. Often, this kind of syptom does not make for strong plants.



Many plants are improved by pinching out: fuschias, cosmos, penstemon and osteospermum to name a few. I have never tried with cerinthe so not much help to you Im afraid

I agree with marshmello but two things.....can you pot on into bigger pots and plant slightly deeper? Can you plant out in unfrozen ground and fleece?
I pinch out most plants...shrubs, perennials, annuals....and usually repeat a couple of times
I grow cotinus royal purple and Acer examples...and pinch these out mybe 3 times during the summer. It makes for denser more attactive plants
Oh, yes I do pinch out cerinthe too. Flowering is delayed but not by much but worth it


Verdun how old are cosmos when you first pinch them out or at what stage.


You can pot on and you can plant deeper. However, be careful how deep you plant sunflowers and some other plants. I've often had casualties because the base of the stem goes black and ultimately the plant dies. Planting deeper is not always the answer, providing the right growing conditions is...

..difficult I know.


Unless the plant is "hardy" you should ideally plant out when the conditions are right for that particular plant. Fleece does help but you can't always be around to fleece them.

For example, I know that sunflowers react badly to cold weather, the leaves/stems go black and somtimes the plant dies. These I would sow  4 weeks later than what the packet states ( mid-late guide on the packet).  Because I live in the northeast, I'm 4 weeks behind southern countys. Plants do catch up.

Greenhouse plants are different though, I sow at the first chance i.e tomatoes.

Yes, not too deep...just slightly.
I agree totally with point about growing conditions and light. They need as much natural light as possible now
Cosmos are prob 4 weeks old when I start pinching
When you eee extended growth and shoots emerging from way back on the stems usually in pairs pinch back to there. I wait couple of weeks, perhaps, and pinch back again to where another pair of shoots has developed. All the time the stems doubling
Marshmello, you will never catch up with me in far s w. !!!
You are right though about using judgement when reading seed packets. Down here I think of 3 or 4 weeks BEFORE dates shown. We all get to know through experience when best time for us

haha maybe not.

Yeh exactly, we learn through research, trial/error, repetition and experience - thats what makes it fun ? Well...I think so.




Thank you all so much for your replies, knowledge and advice.

I've potted on the cerinthe today (sunflowers i did a week or so ago) and wiill make sure they're somewhere where they get more light- they had been on an east facing w sill that's in shade from about midday onwards.



Ahh, thats the problem. South facing windows are the best.


To  keep it simple-if you want a nice compact bushy plant with lots of floweing stems then pinch out-if you want a plant -like a giant sunflower- or a tomato as well for that matter to grow tall with a single stem- do not pinch out-in fact remove any side shoots


I pinch out most things...I just wish that they were big emough to pinch out...very slow growing they are.


It's ealy tho isn'ty it?


And rotate your plants too to get good even balanced growth. I try to turn them every few days
hollie hock

I've learnt from trial and error really. Plants that I pinch out are wallflowers, sweet williams, snapdragons. If I'm not sure and I have a got a few on the go. I pinch out some and leave the others, and then see what happens. If I can see that the plant is happy with that, I then do the rest

I experimented with that Hollie hock as you do with wallflowers. The pinched out ones were bushier and sturdier.

has anyone ever pinched back meadow rue?