Pruning. When a plant has become leggy and is branching out away from its base as shown in the illustration here, the time has come to cut it back. First, select the stem you are going to cut back, and then with a razor blade or pruning shears, make a horizontal cut straight across the stem just above a node. The node should be facing toward the center of the plant rather than away or else you will just compound the situation. A four to five inch slip from the end of the section pruned off can be used to start a new plant, as described in Chapter 7.
Pinching. The purpose in pinching out the center growth of a young plant is to keep it low and force it to grow outward rather than up. The center growth of all plants, because it is in direct line with the roots which provide the food, will tend to grow stronger than the parts of the plant further from the center. If this center growth is removed the growth toward the outside will be greater. Pinching to be effective must be done early. If you wait too long you may find that you have to cut the plant way back to get the effect you want.
Another kind of pinching on flowering plants is done to increase the size of the flowers the plant is to produce. If a plant has a great many buds you can assure yourself of better though fewer flowers if you pinch off the excess buds and allow the energy of the plant to be channeled into producing more luxuriant flowers from the few that are left.