Without regular pruning, flowering plants may grow tall and spindly or send off side shoots that disrupt the natural shape of the plant. Not only does this spoil their appearance, it may weaken the plant and reduce blooming as well. How you prune them determines the overall shape and production of the plant. Following a regular schedule of deadheading and pinching back new growth may be all the pruning your plants need to thrive.
Deadhead spent blooms to encourage your flowers to continue blooming. Pinch the stem just below the bloom with your thumb and forefinger to remove the faded bloom. This fools the plant into thinking it has not produced seed, and it will continue to bloom in an attempt to reproduce.
Pinch back new growth from center leaves to encourage a dense, compact plant. Simply pinch out new leaves with your fingers. Although this may reduce blooming for a short period, it forces new growth to appear along the stalk or from the base of the plant.
Trim any over-grown stems that disrupt the basic shape of the plant by cutting the terminal ends back to align with the overall shape. Tall, spindly plants benefit from cutting back by half to promote new growth. This is especially helpful in late spring before the plants have bloomed but can be done throughout the summer to promote lush foliage and brilliant blooms.
Sheer flowering plants like alyssum and petunias back to several inches if they cease blooming during hot, dry seasons. Provide plenty of water to encourage new growth and a new flush of blooms.