Pinching young seedlings - recommendable or not advisable

Hello to all!
In my early days of breeding roses, I never pinched a seedling. I thought it was more advisable to see if the rose would branch well without any support. However, the literature still recommends pinching for young shoots to stimulate more branching. I follow this procedure always with grafted roses. So I decided to try this approach with some of my 3-4 months old baby rose plants as well. In this process, I noticed that some of the characteristics of a few seedlings changed significantly as the new shoots grew. This includes the color of the new shoots, leaf size, and finally the overall stature. From time to time, some of them lost vigor and had to be sorted out. Others seem to strengthen their growth habit or even sprout a little more vigorously and lushly than before. This method looks to me like another selection tool that can be used in early stages.

How do you handle this issue? Pros and cons are highly appreciated. I am really looking forward to your comments. Many thanks!


I am forced into the practise with tender variety seedlings that l deem not ready for their first winter outdoors. They are kept indoors over winter under enclosed heated damp and restricted height conditions. Therefore they need to be tip snipped as outgrow enclosure height.

But mine are not 4 weeks old as by September they are at least 16-20 weeks old.

Mine have reacted by with denser bush and more basal breaks and laterals. But not always.

Just planted a gallica and Lillian Gibson seedling from 2021 production. Under cloche outside. Upside snipped micro thickness tips can be struck and give 60-70% take for me.

The practise you mention is recommended with sweet peas to develop side shoots.

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Hi RikuHelin,
many thanks for your insights. I am very grateful to you for that! Just to mention, maybe you misunderstood me in this case, I tried this method with 12-16 weeks old seedlings, they were not 4 weeks old.

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Hi Rose,

Ur welcomed, l always like to share what l have to offer as it has been a long winding switch back climb.

It was a topical question as last night was watching a show where they explained that sniping the tip ( on another plant variety ) causes a named hormone to be activated to generate side shoots (head gardener authority). While “tip growth hormone” switch off by clipping. No idea if biologically correct but not arguing.

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Certainly, pinching growth will produce side growth and may produce a better plant. I like to see what the seedlings will do on their own. Some seedlings produce good side growth branching without any coxing. I think that these will make better, fuller plants.

I don’t do any pinching early on, but let the seedlings show their own behavior. If a seedling that I like is producing many flower buds, I will remove all of the flower buds after i have selected it for further evaluation to promote more rapid growth. Most seedlings however, are culled after the first bloom.

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