Pinch Your Perennials for Prodigious Plants


Some of the most eye-catching plants at Marin Art & Garden Center come back year after year, our perennials. Dahlias, Salvias, Agastache, milkweeds and Penstemon thrill us every time they bloom.

Now, before spring temperatures get too warm and days get too long is time for some critical maintenance to ensure you get the most from these faithful plants. Once they are about a third to half of their adult size, we recommend pinching them back by a third. The growing tips of most plants produce a hormone that prevents dormant lateral buds from developing.  By pinching the tips,  you cause the plant to temporarily cease producing the hormone, leading to fuller, stronger plants with more blooms. Using pruning shears will help make a cleaner cut that heals faster and gets the plant blooming sooner.

Brent & Becky’s has a wide selection of bare root and other perennials, and your purchase through this link supports MAGC!

Before your perennials get too big and bushy, offer them some support that you can train them along. This might be a stake for something like a dahlia, or a tomato cage for something bushy like a Salvia. When selecting the support method, be sure to keep the overall size of the adult plant in mind. The support should be large enough from the beginning to support the adult plant, so while it may dwarf your young sprout, better to let it grow into it.

Don’t forget to fertilize.  Most perennials will be hungry after the cold days of winter.  With a little balanced fertilizer, your garden will offer an even more spectacular show.

When you shop for plants, look out for bare root dormant perennials, plants with the soil removed from the roots; you’ll find a better selection and  can plant them either directly into your beds or start them in pots. You’ll find the widest variety online, but even at most brick and mortar stores you’ll be able to find something unusual and maybe even something you’ve coveted for a long time.

More to explore

IRS Guidelines for Gifts from Donor Advised Funds to Support MAGC Events

Thank you for your interest in giving to the Marin Art & Garden Center events from your Donor Advised Fund (DAF) or Family Foundation.

We sincerely appreciate your generosity and support!

To ensure your gift follows the current IRS guidelines for DAF/Family Foundation support of an event, we would like to share the below guidelines with you.

  • Raffle tickets, tickets to galas and other special events, auction items, and benefits conferred in connection with a DAF/foundation grant are not permitted.
    • IRS has specifically ruled that fair market value associated with fundraising events cannot be separated, a practice known as “bifurcation.”
      • For example, with Edible Garden, if the price of the ticket is $200 and the FMV fair market value (non-tax-deductible amount) is designated to be $50, the donor must pay from sources other than her DAF/foundation for the full value of the ticket ($200) and not just for the non-tax-deductible amount ($50).
    • We recommend you confer with your financial advisor to confirm if any of these examples of how donors may still use their DAF to support an event would work for you:
      • A donor could sponsor the event, and not attend, and pay fully out of the DAF/foundation.
      • A donor could sponsor the event using DAF/foundation funds and attend by purchasing an individual ticket through non-DAF/foundation funds.
      • A donor could sponsor the event, join the event as a guest of another donor/table guest, and pay fully out of the DAF/foundation.
      • A donor could sponsor the event and host the afforded number of people at their chosen level as long as they pay for the seats at the lowest ticket price ($200 for Edible Garden) outside of their DAF.
        • As an example, a $1,500 sponsor that covers 2 guests, could pay for their sponsorship with $400 from a different source of funds, and then give an additional gift of $1,100 out of their DAF.


Please email Tod Thorpe, Director of Development at to discuss your gift to Marin Art and Garden Center