• Alison Murray

Things to do in the garden during lockdown day 63: Chelsea chop the phlox.

Cutting off the top of phlox and some other perennials will help them branch and produce more flowers.

Phlox is a plant that responds really well to the Chelsea chop. I just get out the shears and cut them back by about a third to a half. If you only have a few then snip back with the secateurs just above a leaf node. If however, you are luck enough to have many you can cut back those at the rear, so the ones at the front flower first, then cut those back to reveal the later flowering plants at the back, or visa-versa. The idea is to encourage the plant to branch. The plant hormones are mainly produced at the nodes and travel upwards causing the plant to branch just above the cut.

Other perennials that can get too tall and flop or leggy respond well to the shears, such as rudbeckia, heleniums, echinacea, symphotrichiums (asters) and hylotelephiums (sedums ). There is also the added bonus of popping the cuttings in a bit of root hormone and making more plants.

Thank you Anna Watson for the great photos.

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