Monty Don says the 'Chelsea Chop' is the secret for prolonging your floral displays well into the autumn months

  composite image of monty don and heleniums in a garden.
composite image of monty don and heleniums in a garden.

There's nothing worse than working hard in the garden, tending to your flowers and investing in bulbs only to watch them wither away within a month. Luckily, gardening guru Monty Don has shared a professional hack to get the most out of your flowers this year. 

Whether you're into succession planting or are just simply looking for more sustainable garden ideas, finding ways to make the most out of the plants you have is a great way of transforming your garden on a budget.

Monty had shared the importance of carrying out the 'Chelsea Chop' method on his monthly advice blog we immediately wanted to get out into our gardens and get chopping. Here's what it involves...

Monty Don's Chelsea Chop advice

Monty introduces the May edition of his monthly blog post with a few words about the gardening atmosphere of late. He says, "April was cold and wet again, the winter’s miserable weather continuing long into Spring. But the floods - at the time of writing at least - have at last abated and there is that wonderful sense of the natural world unfurling out into the light."

We also haven't had to tackle how to protect plants from frost this year, Monty explains, "The garden seems not to have minded the endless wet and although cold for humans it has in fact been mild with little or no frost so everything is flowering at least 10 days earlier than usual – if not ever."

He even mentions how this year's tulips have performed brilliantly. Now is the time to figure out what to do with your tulips after flowering as there are a few methods to get the most out of the beautiful turn-out this season brought. In the same vein, it's also worth figuring out what to do with daffodils after flowering.

What we're most interested in is his mention of the 'Chelsea Chop'. Monty explains how this method can provide us with longer-lasting flowers.

"The Chelsea Chop (so called because it is done any time in the weeks around the Chelsea Flower Show which has traditionally, in pre-covid days, been in the 3rd week of May) is a way of extending the flowering season of late-flowering herbaceous perennials such as heleniums, sedums, lysimachia or solidago (Golden Rod)," Monty says.

These perennials are some of the best patio container plants, and as such are great to use the Chelsea Chop with. But what exactly is the method and how does it help you get more from your flowers?

Monty explains how to do it, he says, "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."

picture of gardening shears next to a plant pot
picture of gardening shears next to a plant pot

The result? Each section that you prune this way will produce side shoots that will eventually bear extra flowers. These extra flowers will bloom a few weeks later than the uncut growth and mean you have stunning floral displays right into the autumn months.

We might have to add The Chelsea Chop to the list of our favourite garden trends, along with Monty's bulb lasagne method of course.

Monty finishes his May introduction with a few words about the spring sunshine, he says, "The truth is that the is an almost irrepressible urge to grow, and the growing light - which is so noticeable at this time of year, whatever the weather - is just as important as the temperature."

Wooden secateurs
Wooden secateurs

Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew by Spear & Jackson Wooden Bypass Secateurs

RRP: £22.99 | This set of professionally-designed secateurs are ideal for cutting the green stems to a satisfyingly sharp finish to ensure your garden looks neat and tidy. The traditional wooden handles also make the tool as stylish as it is practical.

Once again Monty shares his invaluable expertise and our gardens sure do thank him for it. If you're looking for gardening tips for beginners then don't miss out on Monty Don's foolproof tomato-growing advice, it'll transform your veggie patch this summer!