When a single stem reaches maturity and is ready to flower it sends signals down the stem to tell secondary buds to stop growing letting the single stem have all the energy. When you pinch off the growing tips of the plant it changes the signal and the plant begins to produce more branches to create more flowers, thus creating a larger bushier plant, that will eventually be much stronger. This works on your flowering plants too!
How much should we pinch off? There is no hard and fast rule. If a plant is badly in need of bulking up, you can take one or two larger pieces around 4 inches and several smaller tips about 2 inches. If the plant has produced blossoms pinch off every single one of them. Blossoms will pull energy from other parts of the plant weakening the flavor of the herbs.
|Lemon Basil before being pinched|
|Lemon Basil after pinching, see the two new branches...|
|hard geranium stems|
As I pinch my plants I lay the branches on a paper towel on a plate. Everything I do not need to cook with is left to dry and in a day or two I can pop them into a jar.