70 (September/October 2003)
Pinching Your Begonias
by Brad Thompson
How to Pinch: To pinch your begonias you need
to remove the growing tip of each stem where the next leaf will come out.
Usually you remove it by pinching it off with your fingernail (yes, that's
why it is called pinching and no, I don't know who thought of calling it
that). Make sure your remove the bud and the new baby leaf below it to
make sure you get it pinched off.
When to Pinch: On plants that you're going to
pinch, start pinching after pruning out three nodes (a node is the joint
in the stem where the leaf is connected). The reason for this is that if
you don't wait until you get out three nodes then you won't gain anything
because after pinching out one bud where would it branch from? With three
nodes, after removing the one node (the growing tip is a node too), then
you are left with two nodes that will send out side shoots. These you let
grow out three nodes and then pinch again. Usually a plant that is
actively growing can grow out three nodes in three or four weeks. You
continue pinching until about 6 weeks before a show to make sure the plant
has time to grow out and bloom well in time for the show. Pinching will
delay blooming, but you will be rewarded with so many more stems that have
blooms that it is well worth the extra wait, besides the fact of how nice
and full your plant will be.
I was amazed at the difference pinching made
especially on plants that had a tendency to become leggy and sparse. If
you plan on entering shows and would like to win something for your
efforts then you really need to learn to pinch to have quality show
plants, but even if you're just growing them for yourself you should still
pinch for beautiful full plants.