By Phran Novelli

PHILADELPHIA (CBS) – So, that’s why they say to pinch back plants by the Fourth of July! Because if you don’t – they can open up in the middle like an elephant sat on them.

You spot a lot of mums like that this time of year (like the snapshot of this spectacularly splatted one) but lots of plants can do it. They get too tall and make so many flowers they can’t support their own weight, so all the stems fall down in a circle particularly after a heavy rain.

You can put rings around plants, (doesn’t that sound like fun?), or tie them up when they get too heavy – which looks lousy and often doesn’t work well – or just remember next summer to pinch back plants you want to keep compact so they’ll hold their shape when they burst into bloom.

It’s the same reason it’s smart to cut back perennials that bloom in early summer; to deadhead, stop the flopping and encourage more flowers on much more tidy plants. So if you have flattened flowers this fall, take a mental picture (or a digital one) and use it as a reminder to pinch back those plants next summer.

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