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chop, drop and reflower  RSS feed

 
alex colket
Posts: 4
Location: Ithaca, NY
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one added benefit I have noticed of the chop & drop approach is that it can also extend the flowering season for a particular species of plant. for instance, cutting some of my comfrey back to the ground in late spring means that these chopped plants will regrow and flower after the untouched comfrey flowers have died back, which seems like a nice feature for a nectary plant. I have tried to do some research to find a list of plants that are well-suited for this purpose beyond the few that I have figured out on my own, but I have not been able to find much. I don't have my copy of Edible Forest Gardens with me to check, but I don't recall any tables of appendices there with such information, so I figured it might be worth discussing here. Would anyone care to add to my list of good nectary plants that can be forced to flower a second (or multiple times) by chopping them down?

comfrey
yarrow
crown vetch (presumably other vetches as well?)
red clover
spearmint/bee balm/lemon balm (presumably most members of mint family)

or is this pretty much the norm for most perennial herbaceous plants?

thanks!
 
Peter Ellis
Posts: 1432
Location: Central New Jersey
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Alex, are we talking about actually flowering twice from the same plant (flower, chop, grows and flowers again) Or are we talking about extending the flower season by letting some plants go to flower while we chop some others, which will then grow back and flower later?

Just want to be sure I follow the conversation

 
Jordan Lowery
pollinator
Posts: 1528
Location: zone 7
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Yarrow blooms once a year if you cut it once or five times a year. The greens can be cut back multiple times a year.

I use amaranth to chop drop and reflower. It extends the blossom season for my bees for weeks if not months.
 
alex colket
Posts: 4
Location: Ithaca, NY
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thanks for the clarifying question Peter, I confused things by using the word "reflower" in the title. I guess what I am looking for is plants that can withstand a heavy pruning/chopping before they flower such that I may artificially force them to flower later in the season than they otherwise would and thus extend the total amount of time with such flowers available in the garden, rather than having them all go at once. obviously this can be done to some extent using microclimates but Im specifically interested in plants that can be chopped and used for mulch purposes
 
Michael Cox
Posts: 1621
Location: Kent, UK - Zone 8
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I've noticed this with borage recently. It is an annual, but if you let it go to seed it usually self seeds well. As the stalks grow long and leggy just cut it right back down to ground level and the new growth will quickly pop up and flower again. The stuff I cut recently had flowers again within 2 weeks!
 
Peter Ellis
Posts: 1432
Location: Central New Jersey
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Interesting. I see that the answer is a little bit of "it depends" As in, some plants really will flower, then regroup and do it again if you cut them back hard after flowering, while some others can be delayed in their flowering by cutting them back before they flower - but won't flower again if you cut them back after. I'm going to wager that there's another group where if you cut them back before they flower, they will pretty much give up and you won't get flowers from the plants you cut back.

So it seems like overall the answer is a yes, you can extend the flowering period of your garden with judicious cutting. Definitely has its uses.
 
Michael Cox
Posts: 1621
Location: Kent, UK - Zone 8
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Oohh... I forgot a really obvious one.

Lavender!

I've been rehabilitating a whole bunch of very old bushes. Some of them have had a extra haircut or two this spring to get them to thicken up.

These are now putting on flowers, but a good 3 weeks behind the rest of the bushes. I'm not sure if I would get a total second set of blooms if I prune them back hard after flowering. Maybe an experiment in a few weeks time.
 
Michael Cox
Posts: 1621
Location: Kent, UK - Zone 8
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Another one for the list, again one I should have remembered as I do this most year.

Chives - once they flower and go past their best simply chop them back to about 3 inches and let the next lot of shoots grow up and flower again. We have some chive "hedges" that are about 6 inches wide. More chive than the family will ever use, and I can't eat them because I'm allergic to all alliums. They look spectacular when they all flower together so I cut the whole lot back at once. I'm not sure how good they are for nectar, but the bees certainly visit them. I used the stalks as a mulch and was really impressed by how they held moisture beneath them.

So the list so far is:

Chives - multiple flowerings if you cut them back.
Lavender - possible to get two flowerings per plant if the climate is right, otherwise a spring hair cut will set them back a few weeks to stagger the flowering.
Borage - an annual, but one that the bees love and produces masses of mulch material. Cut it down to ground once the flower stalks collapse and start sprawling.
Yarrow
Amaranth
comfrey - haven't seen this for myself yet as my comfrey is only a few weeks old.
crown vetch (presumably other vetches as well?)
red clover
spearmint/bee balm/lemon balm (presumably most members of mint family)
 
ariel greenwood
Posts: 33
Location: piedmont north carolina
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has anyone ever used American licorice (Glycyrrhiza lepidota) for this situation? it's been advised to me as a reliable chop & drop. and it's a legume, which I like, and I work with chefs who might be game to utilize the flavor. but I'm not sure of its growth habit.

it was initially suggested for within orchard setting but it sounds so useful that I'd be game to plant it in between my small blueberries for a few years, but I'd like to hear from other growers first.

ariel
 
Landon Sunrich
pollinator
Posts: 1703
Location: Western Washington
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Michael Cox wrote:I've noticed this with borage recently. It is an annual, but if you let it go to seed it usually self seeds well. As the stalks grow long and leggy just cut it right back down to ground level and the new growth will quickly pop up and flower again. The stuff I cut recently had flowers again within 2 weeks!


Nettles do this too.

I was actually just about to start a thread on nettle morphology and nettle poly-culture, but I'm not sure if my chops are good enough to talk plant with some of the people on this forum.

 
I agree. Here's the link: http://richsoil.com/email
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