All Things Gardening forum: Teach me how/when to pinch tips!!!

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Hunterdon County NJ (Zone 6b)
Chrissyd1121
Dec 19, 2017 1:46 AM CST
I wasn't sure which forum to post this question in so hopefully this one is okay. I'm a newbie to all things gardening.

Ive read that a lot of people hate the Polka Dot Plant but I must admit, it's one of my faves! I took some cuttings of two different types of PDP and they all rooted nicely (Woop Woop!!). I know these plants tend to get tall and lanky and you're supposed to pinch back tips of young growth to keep it compact. One problem... Idk how to pinch tips to keep plants compact!!

I've pinched the tips of petunias but that's it. When it comes to young plants like these, how far down am I supposed to pinch off? And when is ideal to pinch them off (as soon as I see new growth? When they get to a certain height?)?

I posted a couple pictures of the cuttings. There are 3 cuttings in each 4 inch pot.

While I'm at it...
In your own opinions.... If I want a nice compact bushy plant how many of these cuttings should I pot together and what size pot to use?

Thanks in advance!!
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Name: Will Creed
NYC
Professional indoor plant consultan
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WillC
Dec 19, 2017 11:58 AM CST
So glad you are willing to pinch! That is something that most folks fear and never do.

Pinching is very easy to do but does require persistence. When you start to pinch is a matter of what size (height) you want the individual stems to be.The time to do it is as soon as a newly emerging leaf is large enough for you to pinch out with your fingers. With healthy plants, you will soon have one or more new leaves emerge at the same place and then they can also be pinched. Persistence. Sometimes constant pinching will get the plant to push out lower stem or leaf growth. In any case, you cannot do any harm by pinching.

My preference is for very full, compact plants. Thus, I put as many plants as I can squeeze into a single pot. Plant roots do quite well when they are crowded.

You have done an excellent job at getting your PDPs this far. If you decide to combine several of the plants together in a pot, be careful not to disturb the still-fragile roots too much. If they were mine, I would combine any two of the pots into one pot that is the same size as the ones they are in now.
Will Creed
Horticultural Help, NYC
www.HorticulturalHelp.com
I now have a book available on indoor plant care
Name: Karen
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plantmanager
Dec 19, 2017 12:06 PM CST
@WillC, I really appreciate your willingness to answer so many questions. It's wonderful when a plant professional gives answers from his own experiences. I've learned a lot from you. I plan to get your book titled, "Don't Repot That Plant and Other Indoor Plant Care Mistakes" available at my bookstore or online.
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Name: Jai or Jack
WV (Zone 6b)
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Jai_Ganesha
Dec 19, 2017 4:53 PM CST
This plant has a very special association for me because one time a client of mine who was dying had one of these and after she passed away she left it for me.

Unfortunately, I had it sitting outside and somebody accidentally destroyed it. I was heartbroken.

I don't understand how anybody would hate a plant.

All that said, if you ever are hesitant, you can always pinch some and let some grow out. That way you can experience both at the same time and get a feel for how to handle both.
Keep going!
Hunterdon County NJ (Zone 6b)
Chrissyd1121
Dec 20, 2017 12:06 AM CST
Thanks guys! I'm thinking I'll try potting them as Will suggested so I have two groups (of hopefully cute bushy little guys) then try what Jai suggested and pinch both differently to experiment and get a feel for it. I'll try to remember to post pictures down the road!

Will-
Thanks for taking the time to explain that to me. Much appreciated! (I'll keep an eye out for your book! Maybe I can still get it on my Christmas wish list if I act fast!)

Jai-
You said your client, are you a massage therapist by any chance?

I'm sorry your sentimental polka dotter didn't make it. You can always get one "in memory" (I know it's not the same!)

It seems like the polka dotter is too easy and short lived for the experienced growers. They want more of a challenge and more bang for their buck or something. It's the one plant I've kept alive and well through the summer, through the transition from garden to houseplant, and I'm already on my second set of successfully rooted cuttings... so I'm a big fan! As a beginner it's a nice nod in my direction from time to time.... Like "look, I'm healthy and happy and you SHOULD keep growing plants bc you CAN do it!"
Name: greene
Savannah, GA (Sunset 28) (Zone 8b)
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greene
Dec 20, 2017 3:53 AM CST
No one has mentioned lighting. Many types of plants may also get leggy as they stretch to reach the light. Your PDP is one of them. Please assure that the plant has adequate light while living indoors.
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Name: Jai or Jack
WV (Zone 6b)
Om shanti om.
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Jai_Ganesha
Dec 20, 2017 5:28 AM CST
Nope, I'm a healthcare social worker.

I feel like I need a massage therapist though! :)
Keep going!

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