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Prepare for spring by pinching your plants

Pinching them makes them grow into a fuller, more bushy plants.

DENVER — As days grow longer and the sun's rays intensify, it's time to pinch your plants. I'm talking about the ones you saved last fall or the cuttings you took and rooted.

Pinching is simple: remove the top two leaves on each stem. Just use your fingers. 

Plants on the windowsill tend to get leggy during winter. Pinching them makes them grow into a fuller, more bushy plants. Otherwise you just get one, tall scraggly plant. 

If plants have gotten way too leggy, get more aggressive and cut them back further. 

Plants that I have growing on my windowsills and under florescent lights in the basement include geraniums, coleus, bloodleaf, oxalis, plectranthus, sweet potato vine and impatiens. 

The latter are the so-called "sunpatiens." These impatiens can tolerate more sun but, more importantly, are resistant to downy mildew.

This disease has made growing traditional impatiens almost impossible. The disease, now prevalent in the metro area, strikes in midsummer and kills the plants nearly overnight. They just crumble. There is no prevention or cure. It's always wise to choose impatiens that are resistant to downy mildew. 

Your plants have a little more than two months before they can go outside. Go ahead and start feeding them lightly about every two weeks. I use a liquid fertilizer mixed in water. Feed at about half strength compared to summer fertilization. This will help keep them compact and ready for spring. 

Credit: Mallory Davis, KUSA

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