Pinching to Maximize the Show

Mid- to late-June is a good time to pinch back perennial plants. The result will make them bushier and less leggy. Candidates for this in my garden include asters, Montauk daisies, phlox, chrysanthemums and sedum.

When Nancy DuBrule came to my garden earlier this month for a consultation, she showed me how to trim back my perennials so they will branch out and not need staking later on.

Here's how it works with my Global Warming mum as an example:


Afterwards you can see how the top part of the plant was snipped away. Last year I did not pinch back these plants and they grew very tall. It will be interesting to see if they become wider this year.

Here's another example with the Montauk daisy:
As you can see, the plant is already huge! I trimmed it back by half so it will branch out and not be floppy in the fall. Again, last year I did not prune these plants and they had to be held up with twine so the flowers wouldn't end up on the ground.

Another cool pruning technique I learned is pinching to extend the bloom cycle of plants. This causes the plant to branch and slows down the flowering for three weeks. The part of the plant that was not trimmed back will begin to flower, and then a few weeks later, the front half will join in. This is a way to get more blossoms from one plant over the summer. Nancy explained that if the plant normally blooms for 3-4 weeks, it will now bloom for 6-8 weeks. It was too late to use this technique on my shasta daisies, but I did use it on my sedum and my phlox.

Ideally this is done in mid-June but can still be done this week.

Do you use this technique in your garden?

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