The Chelsea Chop

The Chelsea Chop

The bell for the end of the greatest flower show in the known world is a distant memory, but that doesn’t mean it’s time to put your feet up, relaxing on your rattan garden furniture.  The end of the RHS Chelsea Flower Show means it is time for the Chelsea Chop.

What is the Chelsea Chop?

The Chelsea Chop is simply a method of delaying plants from flowering, by cutting back new growth in May.  It is so called because it is often done around the time of the Chelsea flower show.

Herbaceous Perennials

Most of us find it difficult to bring the secateurs to bear on herbaceous perennials, but perennials, annuals and bedding plants all benefit from a good cut back around now.  As a rule of thumb, if a plant has grown 80cm, cut back to 40cm – any of your plants that tend to annoy you later in the season by flopping around.

Relay Flowering

For a more professional approach, don’t hack everything down, but cut back one stem in three on prominent plants.  This has the added benefit of delaying only part of the flowering so you can extend the flowering season on one plant with a relay system.

If that sounds too complicated, try just cutting back the stems at the back of the plant, where they are out of sight.

The Benefits

Cutting them back now will mean they flower slightly later in the season, but also that they are sturdier, bushier plants.  There is a very good chance that they will flower more prolifically too.

Candidates for the Chop

Aster and campanula which have a tendency to become leggy respond well to this treatment.  Same goes for sedum – if you pinch them back early in the season, you stop the plants from opening out and becoming baggy.   Other plants that do well with this method include helenium, rudbeckia, echinacea and golden rod.

Let’s face it, the grass is growing before your very eyes, and there are a hundred and one jobs to do in the garden at this time of year.  However, isn’t it nice to be cutting back fresh growth rather than pulling up those grotty weeds that always catch your eye when you’re heading for a wee relax on the rattan patio furniture?  So, if you get out of your rattan garden chair and spend a few minutes in the borders, you will be able to sit back at your rattan garden furniture and enjoy a continuing floral display worthy of the Chelsea Flower Show itself.