As many of us are preparing for spring and seedlings are getting their permanent place in the garden i would like to highlight to our new members the technique and benefit of pinching your annual plants for a bushier and healthier plant which would not flop over due to its own weight instead bear more flowers due more side shoots. Overall compact look as well.
Though it seems unnatural to remove top few leaves thereby regressing growth but in times to come this will pay back. Its no rocket science the technique involves removing top set of leave so that plant damage to the main stem induces the plant to make more side shoots. Generally when seedling is about six inches this process can be done.
I am no authority on the subject and for more accurate information other web sources can be consulted. My basic aim is to highlight this technique.
Remember some plants benefit, whereas some do not from this technique such as plants which give single inflorescence stalk such as Hollyhock.
Plants that benefit from pinching include:- Snapdragons Dimorphotheca osteospermum Candytuft Annual Dahlia Phlox Sweet Peas Nemesia Calendula Linum grandiflora etc
Pinching is not that dependent on season but plant age so to say. At young age once plant are pinched they will result in a bushy plant. At any later stage effect will be of lesser impact and technique for grown up plants is a bit different called deadheading.(You can see article on deadheading by Izhar Sahab)
Marigold season is almost over however they can be again sown in Spring, then you can try this technique when they are about 4-6 inches. Cosmos can be sown starting January in my experience.