Gardening language can be a bit obscure - until you know what it means. In this post we explain some useful techniques. If you grow anything at all, you need to know about finger pruning – that’s ‘pinching out’ and also ‘stopping’. If you ever plant in the open ground you need to know about ‘puddling in’. Read on, we’ll tell you about it in this post.

Gardening language: stopping

This is all about encouraging the growth of a strong, well shaped plant. Use the forefinger and the thumb to remove the growing point of a plant when it’s very small (about 5-7.5cm). This stops the plant from shooting onwards and upwards and turning long and lanky. When you remove the growing point the plant will produce side shoots from the base so it becomes bushy and sturdy. (It's also a good idea to 'stop' tomatoes before they reach the roof!)

Gardening language: pinching out

This is the same as stopping but it's done to maintain an older plant’s shape or health. Pinch out a growing point if the plant is growing wonky and it will be encouraged to branch. Pinch out the tip of a plant if it’s covered with greenfly or blackfly – it stops the aphids spreading and you don’t have to even think about spraying with dilute washing up liquid or anything else.

gardening language

Photo by Jared Belson

Gardening language: puddling in

Puddling in means creating a puddle in your planting hole so the water drains deeply into the soil, giving roots encouragement to grow down and develop a good root system. This will support the plant as it develops and it won't require much additional watering.

Transplanted vegetable seedlings, especially leeks and cabbages, like to be puddled in. Late afternoon or evening is the best time. Blueberries also benefit from this technique.

Extreme puddling in! Gardening language

Extreme puddling in! Transplanting rice seedlings in Mae Chan District, Chiang Rai Province, Thailand. The seedbed is bottom right. ©Takeaway and reused under

For leeks, make a hole with a dibber, fill the hole with water and let it drain away. Drop the leek into the hole and pour water in carefully, allowing the soil to close in naturally around the seedling. Gardeners sometimes also give other reasons for using this technique including that it will blanch (whiten) the leek and improve its flavour and that, done carefully, soil will not get into the leek.

For cabbages, dig a hole with a trowel and carefully fill it with water, let it drain away and repeat two or three times. Then put in the seedling and fill the hole with soil. The RHS says:

If you puddle in your cabbages well at planting, they will need little water. In prolonged dry spells, a thorough soak every 10 days will be enough.

Blueberries like moist ground. If the rootball is dry, remove the bush from its pot and soak it in water. Fill the planting hole with water and let it drain away, then put the bush in the planting hole and firm it in place. Water thoroughly again and  follow with a thick (10–15cm) layer of mulch but keep it away from the main stems.

Ripening blueberry 'Bluecrop'. Gardening language

Ripening blueberry 'Bluecrop'. © Jonathan Billinger and reused under


That’s the end of this gardening language bulletin! Good luck with stopping, pinching out and puddling in! More from us about other gardening language here.