In a non-covid world, the UK would typically be gearing up for the Chelsea Flower Show at this point in May. But while the festival remains postponed until September, there is one tradition we can still uphold now – wherever we are in the wold.
According to celebrity gardener Monty Don, it is time for the aptly-named Chelsea Chop – the process that would usually occur around the 3rd week of May – in honor of the beloved annual flower festival.
See: Flower bed ideas – beautiful way to plant and display blooms and shrubs
What is a Chelsea Chop?
The Chelsea Chop is a pruning method that prolongs the flowering season of late-flowering herbaceous perennials. The Chop leaves you with smaller but extra blooms that will fill gardens with color and almost bring the show to our homes. But what does the Chelsea Chop involve? And is it really that easy to create extra flowers? Here, the treasured gardener reveals all.
Which plants can you give The Chelsea Chop?
Monty Don's blog is brimming with ingenious tips that shape our gardens throughout the year. In his May post (opens in new tab), he suggests the late-flowering herbaceous plants that are perfect for The Chelsea Chop. These include 'heleniums, sedums, lysimachia or solidago,' better-known as 'Golden Rod.'
How do we get extra flowers from The Chelsea Chop?
The pruning process involves chopping back clumps of perennials by approximately one-third to a half. The method slows down the flowering until further in the summer. Once you have cut the flowers, you are likely to be left with various clumps – which is where Monty's advice comes in.
'If you have several clumps of these plants, then cut one of them about halfway up the existing growth. If you have just one big clump, then reduce just one-third of the plant in this way,' Monty explains.
He continues: 'The result will be that the pruned section will produce side shoots bearing extra flowers which will bloom a few weeks later than the uncut growth and extend the display into autumn.'
Why else should we try The Chelsea Chop?
If Monty suggests trying The Chelsea Chop, we certainly don't need any more convincing. However, organizers of the Chelsea Flower Show, and the UK's top gardening charity, the RHS (opens in new tab), similarly highlights the benefits of experimenting with the Chelsea Chop before the end of the month.
Alongside gaining additional flowers, the process ensures our plants are not as tall and leggy, and they also need less staking. When paired with a healthy feeding and watering routine, the method leaves beds and borders looking tidy throughout summer, they add.
We now know how we're going to spend the rest of our weekend. Thank you for enriching our gardens once again, Monty.