When your plants are growing tall and strong the last thing you want to do is chop the top off, but that’s exactly what a gardener on TikTok recommends we try.
Meagan Lloyd, who goes by the handle @meggrowsplants, has notched up 3.5 million views for a video about topping her pepper plants.
The home gardener explained she cuts the top section of her small pepper plants off to encourage fuller growth, even though it seems counterintuitive to do. This technique, which Meagan refers to as topping, is also known as pruning or pinching.
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“It feels totally unnatural and I still cringe every time I do it, but I’m going to show you why you should do it,” she said.
Meagan’s video then cut to footage of a pepper plant that she didn’t top. This plant looks healthy and is likely to still produce peppers, but it doesn’t look as bushy as the plants Meagan topped.
Not only do the topped plants look better, they will actually end up producing more peppers than the plant that wasn’t topped.
“The other one I showed you that I didn’t top, it was producing but there was only a couple of buds. Look at how many buds are on this one, like I can’t even count them there’s so many,” Meagan said.
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While topping isnt a new idea, it’s not something beginner gardeners are always aware of. It’s also not often we get to see a direct comparison of just how much topping helps plants to grow better.
Meagan’s tip generated plenty of discussion in the comments section of her video with lots of questions, advice and praise.
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“Be back… I’m heading to chop my peppers now!” a fellow plant enthusiast commented.
“My toddler snapped the top of one of my pepper plants on accident, and it’s growing way more bushy than my other four,” a parent added.
Others wanted to know when they should top, and when it’s too late to do it.
“I do it when they’re young and have around seven or so leaves. Then I will top it and leave about four or so true leaves like you saw me do here!” Meagan said.
As for when you shouldn’t top plants, Meagan said, “If already flowering I’d just leave them alone.”
Another viewer explained why topping makes plants grow fuller.
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“Yassss it’s science – you’re removing the auxin (plant hormone) which makes the plant grow tall, instead it now grows out bushy – same for trees and shrubs,” she said.
But before you start topping plants, just check the growing advice for your particular plant.
Meagan clarified in the comment section of her video that she only tops small pepper varieties like habaneros, because taller varieties need more room to grow.
You also don’t have to top your small pepper plants if you don’t want to, as they should produce peppers regardless. But you might find you get a bigger crop if you do top the plant.
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