“Green Thumb” Tip #1: Pinch!

Coleus, with new branches beginning to emerge several days after pinching.

Coleus, with new growth beginning to emerge several days after pinching.


Pinch out the growing tips of each stem to make a plant grow more branches.  Some gardeners do this after a stem produces three sets of leaves.  Each new branch helps a plant grow ‘bushier’ and can produce more leaves and flowers.  Use this method to grow larger, more productive plants. 

Use this tip on flowering annuals and perennials, herbs, shrubs and even some vegetables with a structure of leafy stems.

Why it works:  This is an ‘hormonal thing.’  When you pinch out the growing tip of a leaf covered stem, an hormonal message is relayed to every leaf node below that point to produce a new stem.  This is how a single stem can become the framework for multiple stems growing from its sides.  Pinch each lateral stem after at least three sets of leaves form, and more lateral stems will grow from each of its leaf nodes.  Although flowering may be slightly delayed, you will be rewarded with many times more leaves and flowers from a larger plant.

Woodland Gnome’s caveat:  I try to pinch the terminal leaf from a growing stem when it is tiny and not yet fully formed.  Often, this can be done without sacrificing the tiny flowers emerging beside the new leaf.  Use small scissors to prune away emerging leaves without damage to the plant.

“Green Thumb” Tips:  Many of you who visit Forest Garden are amazing gardeners with years of experience to share.  Others are just getting started, and are looking for a few ‘tips and tricks’ to help you grow the garden of your dreams. 

I believe the only difference between a “Green Thumb” and a “Brown Thumb” is a little bit of know-how and a lot of passion for our plants.  If you feel inclined to share a little bit of what YOU KNOW from your years of gardening experience, please create a new post titled: “Green Thumb” Tip: (topic) and include a link back to this page.  I will update this page with a clear link back to your post in a listing by topic, so others can find your post, and will include the link in all future “Green Thumb” Tip posts.

Let’s work together to build an online resource of helpful tips for all of those who are passionate about plants, and who would like to learn more about how to grow them well.


Lantana, with new stems growing from the leaf nodes.

Lantana, with new stems growing from the leaf nodes.


Woodland Gnome 2016

‘Green Thumb’ Tip:  Release Those Pot Bound Roots!  by J. Peggy Taylor

‘Green Thumb’ Tip #2:  Feed!

‘Green Thumb’ Tip #3:  Deadhead!

‘Green Thumb’ Tip #4 Get the Light Right!

‘Green Thumb’ Tip #5: Keep Planting!

‘Green Thumb’ Tip #6: Size Matters!

‘Green Thumb’ Tip # 7:  Experiment!

‘Green Thumb’ Tip #8  Observe

‘Green Thumb’ Tip #9 Plan Ahead

‘Green Thumb’ Tip #10: Understand the Rhythm


About woodlandgnome

Lifelong teacher and gardener.

19 responses to ““Green Thumb” Tip #1: Pinch!

  1. Pingback: Planting up my Herb Garden | Oak Trees Studio

  2. Pingback: “Green Thumb” Tip: Release those pot-bound roots! | Oak Trees Studio

  3. I love the ‘khaki thumb’ idea! I have been hoping you will find time to join in. I can’t wait to see what you can share about building borders…. and any other topic you choose! Thank you, Yvette, WG

    • oh thanks – and this is really a good idea – and side note – my first thought of a tip was actually about “reducing borders” – ha! because when I learned to go low with a nice border, my hubs could mow right up to the bed for me and I did not have to weed the perimeter of that garden bed. so sometimes less (and low) was most helpful.
      But what a great idea.
      and maybe (just thinking) you could do a monthly challenge and so tips can vary by season or region – or whatever the person wants that month. And if monthly – maybe folks can structure their blogging around it – I know it helps me to have this…
      so maybe all tips have to be in by the last week –
      or maybe you already have this – I need to read again….
      and no worries if you toss my idea (just thinking out loud) –

      • Yvette, this would be fun to grow into a monthly challenge. I love your ideas. First, I just need a few blogging friends to respond with posts of their own 😉 It takes a few days to come up with something and pull it together, so I am hoping for later this week… ? But I do hope this takes off, because I can learn so much from the wonderful gardeners who blog about what they do ❤ ❤ ❤

        • this is a great idea – and maybe you can make a page on your blog about it – ?

        • one more thing to share – keep in mind that it might take a few months to get it going. I am thinking of a while back when the Doobsters started a challenge and he only did it once time – only one person joined in and he gave up on it…. so I guess it can feel vulnerable at first – but I think others would have trickled in and he should have waited at least a couple months –

  4. Great idea for a blog community! I will join in later – and maybe will share what I learned about borders – hmmm –
    Oh and I was joking with a blogger recently staying she had a “khaki thumb” which is not full green and not quite brown – well there has to be an in between!? Ha!
    And thanks for this tip and lesson!

  5. This is a great idea! I know I’ve learned a lot from other gardeners. I will be watching out for more Green Thumb tips 🙂

  6. What a good idea! Will try to join in (but often find I don’t ‘follow through’!)

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