'Topping' or 'pinching'
I've read as extensively as possible about this practice and regardless of which term is used, it refers to the practice of eliminating the central leader of the plant in order to promote lateral growth and a bushier plant, which is what I am trying to achieve. And I know this is not the same as disbudding which serves to eliminate flowers rather than foliage growth. However when I look at the dahlias I have under grow lights in BIG 10" peat pots (which I plan to plant directly into the ground after frost risk is gone), the plants are about 8 inches high, but with lots of branches shooting out every which way etc., and yes, there is a central leader/stem, so am I okay to just pinch the central leader and ignore all those shoots everywhere, or do the lateral branches need to be pinched as well. It's a bit confusing and any tips (no pun intended), would be appreciated. I'm growing some of them in containers too, and would like to sacrifice height for shorter, bushier plants given that they are supposed to reach about 4 ft. high and are Dinner Plate size. Thanks so much for any advice you have for pinching/topping.