Help us achieve our goals:
make a donation »
Join the RHS today and
support our charity
Free personalised gardening advice
RHS members get reduced ticket prices
RHS members get free access to RHS Gardens
Reduced prices on RHS Garden courses and workshops
020 3176 5800
Mon – Fri | 9am – 5pm
Make a donation
Join the RHS today and support our charity
I have forgotten my password
Keep me signed in
Register for free to receive our newsletters, add comments to blogs/articles and to save content.
See what events are on near you and browse your bookmarked pages.
The Chelsea chop (so called because it is usually carried out at the end of May, coinciding with the RHS Chelsea Flower Show) is a pruning method by which you limit the size and control the flowering season of many herbaceous plants.
Plants that respond well to the Chelsea chop include:
Anthemis tinctoriaEchinacea purpureaHeleniumPhlox paniculataSedum (upright, strong-growing forms such as 'Herbstfreude')Solidago
Many other summer- and autumn-flowering perennials can be treated similarly. The degree of cutting back is specific to each species but the closer to flowering time you prune, the greater the delay in flowering.
The cut-back is performed usually in late May or early June – i.e. around the time of the RHS Chelsea Flower Show.
Some herbaceous perennials can be cut down by as much as half with positive results;
This happens because the removal of the top shoots enables the sideshoots to branch out (the top shoots would normally inhibit the sideshoots by producing hormones in a process called apical dominance). Using this method, along with regular feeding and watering, ensures beds and borders look tidy throughout summer.
You can read more about the Chelsea chop technique in the book The well-tended perennial garden: planting & pruning techniques by Tracy DiSabato-Aust (Timber Press 2006, ISBN 9780881928037).
This book is available from the RHS Bookshop and the Lindley Library.
There are few problems associated with this technique. However, some plants (not on the 'Suitable for' list above) do not respond well and you can lose the flowers for one year.
AGM Plant Trials Herbaceous SedumsAGM Plant Trials Perennial Yellow DaisiesCuttings: rootOrnamental grasses: dividingPerennials: cutting backPerennials: dividingRHS video: chelsea chop
the RHS today and get 12 months for the price of 9
RHS members can get exclusive individual advice from the RHS Gardening Advice team.
Register for the site or sign in to share your experiences on this topic and seek advice from our community of gardeners.
We're a UK charity established to share the best in gardening. We want to enrich everyone's life through plants, and make the UK a greener and more beautiful place.
Join the RHS today and get 12 months for the price of 9