How to pinch back plants to make them branch out

Written by nannette richford Google
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That gorgeous houseplant you bought at the nursery is growing like a weed. The problem is that it is growing straight up, and is beginning to look a little leggy. Don't worry: All your plant needs is a little pinching and some time to send out side shoots. With a little care, your plant will soon fill out with lush new growth.

Skill level:

Things you need

  • Water-soluble fertiliser

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  1. 1

    Examine your plant for new growth. If all you discover is new leaves on the very top of the primary stem, then it's time to pinch it back to encourage growth from secondary stems, too. The stalk of the plant should be thick and sturdy. If it is weak and spindly, you need to move your plant to a location where it will receive more light.

  2. 2

    Pinch between your thumb and pointer finger the innermost leaves that are growing at the ends of the branches. Gently squeeze the leaves from the stem. Discard the leaves you have pinched off. Repeat this procedure on the ends of all stems. If your plant already has many side branches, pinching out the leaves in the centre will force new growth to begin at the point where the secondary stem joins the primary stem.

  3. 3

    Water your plant and keep a close eye out for dry soil. Actively growing plants require more water than usual. Apply a good water-soluble fertiliser at this time. Be sure to follow the manufacturer's directions, and resist the urge to mix the fertiliser stronger than recommended. It is better to water houseplants frequently with a weakened solution. Try using 1/4 strength fertiliser on a weekly basis to encourage new growth.

  4. 4

    Place the plant in an area where it will receive optimum light. If your plant is tall and spindly, with weak stalks, place it in an area with more light. Most plants will do well in a sunny east window, but many require the bright light of a southern window. Always follow the recommended amount of light for your particular plant. If you are unsure as to what is the best light, consult a good plant encyclopedia or ask at your local nursery.

  5. 5

    Watch you plant for signs of new growth. Within a few weeks, your plant will become fuller and bushier. If it still is not as full as you would like, repeat the process all over again. Pinch out the centre leaves from new branches to create even more growth of new stems and leaves.

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