Fear not, the Chelsea Chop is not the latest must-have hairstyle straight from one of London’s trendy boroughs, but is in fact a method of pruning where you limit the size of your late-flowering hardy perennials and have more control over their flowering season. It’s called the Chelsea Chop because it usually happens at the same time as the RHS Chelsea Flower Show! So hang up the phone on your hairdresser, you don’t need that appointment, and let’s get going in the garden.
The aim is to delay or prolong your flowering period by cutting close to flowering time, around late May/early June. The chop allows the side shoots to develop so that the plants should be less leggy, won’t need much staking, and have a larger quantity of smaller flowers.
Plants that respond well are:
Sedum (such as ‘Herbstfreude’)
Beware of performing the chop on other plants, as they will not respond well and might lose their flowers.
To delay the flowering time, you can just chop all the appropriate plants down by up to half so that they bloom later. If you would prefer to prolong your flowering time, you can just chop some of your plants so that some come out later than others, or even chop some stalks from the one plant so that the plant itself has a longer flowering period.
Now all that’s left to do is enjoy a prolonged summer of beautiful flowers and a full garden. The busy bees will thank you for the extra flowers with their gentle comforting hum on warm summer days, and the aroma of heavy flowers and fresh leaves will keep you in good company during those long summer evenings.