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What is the Chelsea Chop?

What is the chelsea chop pruning technique to create more robust plants

The Chelsea Chop is a gardening technique named after the Chelsea Flower Show, where it gained popularity. It involves pruning or cutting back certain perennial plants around late May or early June, typically coinciding with the time of the Chelsea Flower Show. The purpose of the Chelsea Chop is to delay flowering and promote a more compact, bushier growth habit in the plant.


By cutting back the stems of certain perennials by about a third to a half, the plant's energy is redirected into producing more lateral shoots and foliage rather than flowers. This can result in a more robust plant, with more flowers overall, and a longer blooming period later in the season. Additionally, it can help prevent the plant from becoming leggy or flopping over, resulting in a neater appearance.


The specific perennials that benefit from the Chelsea Chop can vary depending on the climate, soil conditions, and individual plant characteristics. However, many herbaceous perennials respond well to this technique. Some examples of perennials that commonly benefit from the Chelsea Chop include:


Sedums (Sedum spp.)

Sedum's pink flowers

Phlox (Phlox spp.)

Purple Phlox flowers

Rudbeckia (Rudbeckia spp.), also known as Black-Eyed Susans

Rudbeckia also known as black eyed susan yellow flowers with black centers

Aster (Aster spp.)

Asters which look like daisy's come in many different colors and some are native to new england

Echinacea (Echinacea spp.), also known as Cone Flowers

Echinacea, also known as cone flowers, are candidates for the Chelsea Chop

Helenium (Helenium spp.), also known as Sneezeweed

Helenium, also known as sneezeweed, can thrive with the chelsea chop

Monarda (Monarda spp.), also known as Bee Balms

Mondara, also known as Bee Balm, will have more blooms if you use the Chelsea Chop

Veronica (Veronica spp.), also known as Speedwells

Veronica also known as speedwell, will become fuller and have more purple flowers with the Chelsea Chop

Nepeta (Nepeta spp.), also known as Cat Mint or Catnip

Nepeta or Catnip may have more purple flowers if you try the chelsea chop

Achillea (Achillea spp.), also known as Yarrow

Achillea, also known as Yarrow, may flower more vigorously if it is pruned back using the Chelsea Chop, in the spring


In Groton, which falls within USDA Hardiness Zone 6a, perennials that thrive in our temperate climates are generally suitable for the Chelsea Chop. Experimenting with different perennials and observing their response to the pruning technique can help determine which ones benefit most in your specific garden conditions. It's also a good idea to research and consult with local gardening experts or extension services for tailored advice based on Groton’s climate and soil.

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