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Northeast Regional Reports

How to Do the Chelsea Chop | Northeast Regional Report

Gardening takes a leap of faith: we hope plants will thrive to meet our expectations and fulfill their assigned roles. But we can do more than cross our fingers. To increase flower production, tweak bloom times, and prevent the disappointment of plants flopping open or crashing under the weight of full bloom, do the Chelsea Chop.

The Chelsea Chop is the practice of removing, or “pinching,” new growth to stimulate lateral bud growth, which helps control height and habit and results in more–though smaller–flowers, and delayed bloom by a week or more. It’s called the Chelsea Chop because the optimal time to pinch midsummer to fall bloomers coincides with the Royal Horticultural Society’s Chelsea Flower Show.

Pinching Nepeta × faassinii in late April.

When I first learned this method, I was skeptical. The immediate result of snipping the top third of every stem right above a leaf…

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