Early summer is a crucial time for looking after your herbaceous perennials. Cutting back perennials before they have flowered, often known as the Chelsea Chop, will promote healthy growth, optimise their flowering potential and keep your borders looking their best.
You can also cut back early-flowering perennials such as hardy geraniums, foxgloves and primulas, right after they have flowered. Discover three reasons why, below.
Promote more flowers
Herbaceous perennials that flower in early summer, such as hardy geraniums (pictured), alchemilla and stachys, can be cut to the base as soon as the main flush of blooms starts to fade. In an early season, this will be towards the end of June. Pruning encourages new growth and a second flush of early blooms in late summer or early autumn.
Extend the life of plants
The flower stalks of short-lived perennials, such as lupins (pictured) and many foxglove species, should be cut back as soon as the blooms on the lower half of the spike have faded. This diverts energy away from seed production (which can often lead the plant to die) and into leafy growth instead, promoting healthy growth for another season.
Keep borders looking good
Perennials that bloom in spring or early summer can look messy by June or July, with the foliage of plants such as oriental poppies (pictured) and some primulas turning yellow or brown. Cutting it back will smarten up your borders, either sending the plants into their summer dormancy or spurring them on to produce fresh foliage.
Lots of plants can be pruned as summer progresses, including spring-flowering shrubs and fruit trees. Find out what to prune in summer.
Use sharp secateurs
Make sure your secateurs are sharp when cutting back the current season’s growth on perennials, so that you don’t crush the juicy stems.