Chelsea Chop!

This is the time of year when it’s a good idea to give perennials a bit of a taming!

The Chelsea chop (so called because it is usually carried out at the end of May, coinciding with the RHS Chelsea Flower Show) is a pruning method by which you limit the size and control the flowering season of many herbaceous plants.

Perennials are romping away and its tempting to leave all that new lush growth looking so good right now…………however later in the season all that same growth will be heavy with blooms and then flop unattractively or flower sparsely in tall leggy  towers.

So by trimming one third to a half off now you will make much stockier plants, they will flower slightly later but ultimately with twice as many blooms and will need less staking.

How it works

Removal of the top shoots (apical buds) enables the sideshoots (axially or lateral buds) to branch out.

The top shoots would normally inhibit the sideshoots by producing hormones in a process called apical dominance causing the plant to just grow skywards.

Using this method, along with regular feeding and watering, ensures beds and borders look tidy throughout summer.


To carry out the Chelsea chop:

  1. Clumps of perennials can literally be chopped back by one third to a half using shears or secateurs. This will delay the flowering until later in the summer and keep plants shorter and more compact
  2. If you have several clumps of one plant, try cutting back a few, but leaving others. This will prolong the overall flowering time
  3. Another method is to cut half the stems back at the front of the clump which will extend the season of flowering rather than delay it

Here is my Sedum chopped! I have used the pruning’s to make more plants so nothing is wasted!

I will post more pictures as it shoots.


Gardening School


2 Comments Add yours

  1. Thanks for this post gives me confidence to prune back my garden.

    1. Thank you so much for reading my post – this gives ‘me’ confidence to keep blogging!

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