Pinching Plants Hurts but is GOOD for them!
For years, I rebelled against pinching. I especially rebelled when my (highly experienced and up in years) neighbor kindly advised me to pinch my tomatoes for better yields. I couldn't do it. In fact, when he started pinching my tomatoes, I kinda gasped a little and was mad for a while (just a tiny bit). Turns out he was right. It is good to pinch your peonies (or tomatoes or mums or asters or zinnias).
Here is why; some plants produce one main flower and several smaller flowers on the same stem. Leave them all there and they will all produce flowers, but the little guys will be wimpy. Pinch them off and the plant devotes all its energy into the one main flower, making it bigger, badder and more peonylicious than ever.
To pinch peonies, simply pop the top off the stems. You can clearly tell which flower is going t provide the biggest bang for your buck, yes?
Here she is, all pinched. You should see her a week later when she pops into bloom. Just stunning and worth a little pinching now and then...
What else should I pinch? Try this technique on other plants that bud several smaller flowers next to a main stem, such as roses, apples and various other fruits. Tomatoes, zinnias, and other multi-branching flowering plants also benefit from the treatment.
Don't you pinch before the 4th of July only? Pinching directs energy, so in this case you are directing energy to one singular flower. The rule about the 4th of July applies to fall blooming plants like mums and asters. You want to pinch their foliage now through July 4th so that the plant's energy is redirected into making more stems. This will result in a later fall bloom date and a bushier plant. Pinch these plants after July 4th and you run the risk of them not blooming before frost hits hard.