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Gardener explains counterintuitive hack for growing stronger bell peppers: ‘They produced like you would not believe’

The stronger branches will make the plants more resistant to windstorms.

The stronger branches will make the plants more resistant to windstorms.

Photo Credit: @growinginthegarden/ TikTok

While it may seem counterintuitive (and even controversial among gardeners), at least one gardener on TikTok claims to see better pepper plants after cutting them nearly in half during their seedling stage.

The scoop

The TikToker explains in her video that by cutting the seedlings, the pepper plant will grow into a more manageable bush shape with lower and stronger branches.

Stronger branches generally mean a more robust plant, better able to withstand the weight of its own produce and weather events like windstorms.

Executing this technique is remarkably simple. When your pepper seedlings are between six and eight inches tall, take your pruners (or scissors even), and trim the stem of the pepper seedling to just above a node (or where the stem is beginning to branch out) — this ensures the plant will grow wider rather than taller.

@growinginthegarden Do you prune pepper seedlings? There isn’t a right or wrong way to garden, and whether or not to prune peppers is a perfect example of this. We have different climates, sized gardens, and goals.⁣ ⁣ Topping pepper seedlings is often done to encourage pepper plants to have more of a bush habit with stronger stems. To prune your seedlings, cut the main stem to just above a leaf. ⁣ ⁣ Depending on the type of pepper plant you are growing, this may or may not be necessary. ⁣ ⁣ Experiment with different kinds of plants in your garden to see if it improves your yield. ⁣ ⁣ I generally “top” most of my pepper plants. I’ve had the best results with pruning large peppers like bell peppers. ⁣ ⁣ ⁣ ⁣ #howtogrowyourownfood #growinginthegarden #gardeningtips #vegetablegarden #pruningpeppers #peppers #desertgarden #arizonagarden ♬ original sound – Growing in the Garden

How’s it helping

While not everyone claims to see a benefit in terms of yield, there is no question that a plant that’s wider than it is tall is more stable and easier to manage. Tall plants can sometimes need additional support to stay upright and are more likely to catch gusts of wind, which can stress the plant (or even damage it in particularly bad weather).

What’s everyone saying?

Many of the comments appeared to confirm the validity of the technique. 

“[I] [did] it last year in [Kentucky] they produced like you would not believe green and jalapeño peppers,” says one

“I did this for the first time last year!! My peppers exploded, I’ll be doing this here on out,” says another.

One commenter questions if the trimmed tops were replanted — which suggests that there’s an opportunity to double your pepper yield if the clippings are allowed to develop new roots. 

Peppers are remarkable plants, and if left with water and root promoter, the bottom of the stem can begin developing a new root system, and when that happens, you’ve pretty much cloned the pepper plant you pruned earlier.

When creating your pepper clone, consider this potting method that ought to save a ton of time and headaches.

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