The Q&A Archives: Pinching Back to Encourage Flowering

Question: I have heard that pinching back flowers on young plants helps the plants grow larger and also is beneficial to the roots. Is this true of all plants? What about lily of the valley and fern-leaf bleeding hearts? Thanks. J. Cordonnier Austin, TX

Answer: Pinching back to encourage flowering can't be done to all plants. For example, lily of the valley grows from a pip--its leaves originate from that pip and so can't be pinched back. Fern leaf bleeding hearts grow from a crown and can't be pinched back either. Pinching back is only effective on plants whose foliage and flowers grow along a stem. Prolonged flowering can only be encouraged on some perennials. Many do not respond.

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