Are you pinching your sweet peas? Gardening experts say you really should be for bigger blooms this summer

The underrated technique experts swear by

Sweet peas growing in garden
(Image credit: Getty Images)

Sweet peas are a crowd favourite, signalling that summertime has finally arrived with their beautiful and delicate blooms. Although we're still in spring, there's a little lesser-known gardening technique you ought to know about that will guarantee you an even lusher plant come summer: pinching out sweet peas.

Yes, this method is exactly what it sounds like. Knowing how to grow sweet peas is one thing but being fully clued up on how to care for sweet peas is a whole other ballpark.

As far as caring for sweet peas goes, what a lot of people don't know is that pinching your sweet peas is the secret to a bushier plant and even bigger blooms to supplement your garden ideas. So, that's why we asked the experts exactly how to do it.

Sweet peas growing in garden

(Image credit: Getty Images)

What is pinching out sweet peas?

'Pinching out sweet peas is a great gardening technique that can help in growing denser and bushier plants,' explains Rob Grayson, head of plant distribution at Hillier Garden Centres.

'Pinching the tips encourages more growth from side shoots which can help overcome the problem of a tall and leggy plant,' adds Chris Bonnett, founder of Gardening Express.

Therefore, if you're finding that you'd rather have your sweet peas growing outwards, it might be time to consider pinching out your sweet peas.

How to pinch sweet peas

Now you know what pinching out sweet peas means, it's luckily easy enough to get started with doing it to your own home-grown sweet peas.

'To do it, you need to locate the tip of the main stem and make clean cuts just above a set of leaves,' explains Rob.

Alternatively, Chris' rule of thumb is to start from the bottom of the stem, count three leaves up and pinch above the leaf node.

Sweet peas growing in garden

(Image credit: Getty Images)

'Make sure to use sharp secateurs (like these, at Amazon) or snips while doing this to avoid harming the plant,' cautions Rob.

Or, Chris assures that you can simply go in with clean fingers to get the job done in true 'pinching' fashion as you would when you pinch other things in your day to day life.

When to pinch out sweet peas

Similar to how timing plays a huge role in knowing when to plant sweet peas, the same goes for knowing the best time to pinch out sweet peas.

'Aim to do it when they've grown to about 6-8 tall (15-20cm) or have developed four sets of leaves,' advises Rob.

This is usually about 4-6 weeks after sowing sweet pea seeds or after transplanting them into your summer garden idea.

Sweet peas growing in garden

(Image credit: Getty Images)


Can you pinch sweet peas more than once?

'You can continue to pinch sweet peas throughout their growing season as you please,' explains Chris Bonnett at Gardening Express.

Do sweet peas need to be pinched out?

Sweet peas don't technically need to be pinched out as a requirement, but it's definitely encouraged among gardeners for a thriving plant.

'Although it might feel wrong to prune off the growing tips of your seedlings, you should trust the process as it leads to greater growth and flower production later in the season,' assures Rob Grayson at Hillier Garden Centres.

Sweet peas growing in garden

(Image credit: Getty Images)

'After pinching, keep an eye out for signs of damaged growth and provide enough water and support like trellises or stakes,' urges Rob. While you're here, it could be worth considering some pretty garden trellis ideas to simultaneously assist your growing plants while decking out your outdoor space.

'Always remember to remove new growth tips and fertilise the plant regularly to ensure healthy growth and abundant flowering.'

With all of this under your belt, you're well on your way to a bushier sweet pea plant with even bigger and more beautiful blooms you can enjoy in the summertime. All because you decided to start pinching your sweet peas.

Who would've thought, eh?

Jullia Joson
Junior Writer

Jullia Joson is Ideal Home’s Junior Writer. She’s always loved all things homes and interiors, graduating with a bachelor's degree in Architectural Studies from the University of Nottingham in 2022. Previously, she was an Intern Editor for ArchDaily. Now focused on news stories, Jullia can be found down the TikTok and Pinterest rabbit hole scrolling through any new and upcoming trends, hacks, and home inspiration.