In plants, stem cell proliferation is negatively regulated by the receptor kinase CLAVATA1 (CLV1) and its peptide ligand CLAVATA3 (CLV3). Previous studies have suggested that CLV1 acts redundantly with other receptor kinases, such as BAM1, 2 and 3, but the molecular mechanisms underpinning this redundancy have been unclear. Now, Elliot Meyerowitz and co-workers interrogate the role of CLV1-CLV3 signalling in the Arabidopsis shoot apical meristem (p. 1043). They first show that CLV1 functions exclusively in rib meristem (RM) cells that express the transcription factor WUSCHEL, which is required for stem cell maintenance. The researchers further show that BAM1 and BAM3 expression is absent in these CLV1-expressing cells, suggesting that CLV1 represses BAM1/3 expression. In line with this, they reveal that BAM1 and BAM3 are transcriptional targets of the CLV1-CLV3 signalling pathway. Finally, they report that CLV1 in the RM is necessary and sufficient for the negative regulation of stem cell proliferation, independent of BAM function; the apparent genetic redundancy observed is due to the ectopic expression of BAM genes in the absence of CLV1-CLV3 signalling. Together, these findings clarify the role of CLV1-CLV3 signalling and uncover a novel feedback loop that operates in the plant stem cell niche.