The Chelsea Chop - with Darlac Tools

The Chelsea Chop - with Darlac Tools
What is the ‘Chelsea Chop’?
Simply put, the ‘Chelsea Chop’ is the pruning of herbaceous perennials to improve and control their shape and flowering. A good time to do this is late spring, often around the time of the Chelsea Flower Show, hence the name. At this point, perennial plants are growing strongly after their winter dormant period and will grow back vigorously.

Why do the 'Chelsea Chop'?
By cutting back herbaceous perennials with a ‘Chelsea Chop’ you can improve their shape and extend their flowering period. Each newly cut stem will develop side shoots, significantly increasing the plant’s total number of flowering stems. It will also create more compact, bushy and fuller plants with improved weather tolerance and less prone to flopping over under the weight of heavy flower heads.
Because the growth has been set back a bit, plants will flower slightly later, which makes it possible to extend their overall flowering period. ‘Chopping’ some plants and leaving others will extend the overall flowering period of the group as a whole. The ‘Chelsea Chop’ can also be done with large single plants. Cutting some stems and leaving others will make it bushier and extend the flowering period of the plant as a whole.

The best tools for the 'Chelsea Chop'.
Any pruning hand tool can be used, although some are better suited than others and a high quality Darlac tool will last a lifetime and always do the best job possible. 
10 top DARLAC Tools for the ‘Chelsea Chop’
Lightweight shears
Longer bladed shears will make short work of trimming entire, larger plants.

Compact snips or secateurs
Smaller blades are best for accurate and precise pruning.

Perennial, Compact, or Topiary Shears
Small, handheld shears are perfect for both cutting efficiently and with care.
A high-quality Darlac blade with a sharp edge will cut cleanly, preventing unnecessary damage to the plant stems, allowing them to regrow with minimal disruption.
Blades should always be wiped clean with a soapy rag when moving from one plant to the next. Should any plant have a disease, this will help to prevent the spread of it to others.

How to do the ‘Chelsea Chop’
Don’t be afraid to give it a go! If in doubt, prune just a few plants this year, or even half a plant just to judge the results. Simply remove around a third of the height of soft-stemmed (herbaceous) plants before they form flower buds.
For a group of plants, those at the front of the group can be ‘chopped’ to be more compact and flower later than the taller ‘un-chopped’ plants at the back of the group.
The ‘Chelsea Chop’ can also be done with large single plants by selectively pruning just some of their stems. Those cut stems will then produce side shoots and flower later, extending the flowering period of the plant as a whole.
Method 1. (Ideal for groups of plants)
Simply prune the top third off the plants at the front of the group. Long-bladed tools such as the Darlac Lightweight or Classic Shears are perfect for this as they can quickly and easily cut a large number of stems in one go, to create a neat, even ‘chop’.

Method 2. (Ideal for a single plant)

Selectively cut a third of the stems by half, a third of the stems by a third, and leave a third intact. Darlac Compact snips or secateurs are the best pruning tools for a precision ‘Chelsea Chop’.

Method 3. (Ideal for a large single plant or clump)
Cut just the front half of the plants’ stems by a third, creating two tiers to flower at different times. Darlac Hand Shears are perfect for both cutting efficiently and with care.

Expert tips for a great ‘Chelsea Chop.’
Avoid cutting any stems where flower buds have already formed. If they are removed it is likely that those stems will not form flower buds again in time for this season’s display. The closer a stem is to flowering when it is removed, the longer it will take to form buds again.

Take care if you ‘Chelsea Chop’ any perennials you’ve grown for their height, such as those at the back of the border. Do a trial run first, chopping back a small part, to see what the eventual height will be.

Finally, give your plants a thorough watering and a bit of fertiliser to finish off. This will give them a good boost to grow back quickly. Be sure to water the soil and not the newly cut stems.
What plants can you ‘Chelsea Chop’?
Many herbaceous perennials can benefit from the ‘Chelsea Chop’ by having their flowering increased and the period extended by pruning during the growing season.

Common herbaceous garden perennials: 

Agastache                       Campanula                  Chrysanthemum


Nepeta                         Penstemon                       Rudbeckia



and more…

 Some taller perennials less likely to flop over after the ‘Chelsea Chop’ include:

   Aster                            Buddleja                      Echinacea 


   Helenium                 Leucanthemum                    Monarda 


Phlox                                                         Salvia

and more…

 Don’t forget, beneficial insects will gain from the ‘Chelsea Chop’ too!

Bees, butterflies, hoverflies and other beneficial pollinators and natural pest predators all benefit from the increase in available nectar and pollen that increased blooms and a longer flowering season will bring.