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What is the Chelsea Chop?

What is the Chelsea Chop?
When to safely cut back herbaceous plants that are too tall for your garden
If you find that some of your herbaceous plants are growing too tall for your border once they have had time to settle in then you can give them the 'Chelsea chop.'  The name 'Chelsea chop' is only a way to help you to remember that you can cut some of your plants down in May around the time of the Chelsea Flower Show.  This is not an exact science and it would not matter if you cut them down a little later in May or early June but leaving it any later than this would not be wise.

The taller flowered herbaceous perennials that usually flower in late summer or into autumn are often the varieties that grow tall and need staking, especially if your garden is windy.  Cutting down your plant by about a half or a third of its growth in May will ensure that the plant will not grow as tall as usual.  This is extremely beneficial if you don't want to stake your plants.  This technique can also encourage the plant to grow bushier.  Be warned however - your plant will flower a few weeks later than usual and the flowers may be smaller.  If you don't mind this then go ahead.

Once your plant is well established you can also cut just some of the plant stems down and leave the rest as normal.  This will then prolong the plant's flowering time.  The uncut stems will flower as normal and then the stems that were cut back will flower later.  Sedum, Rudbeckia, Echinacea, Helenium and Solidago can all be given this treatment.