Dividing perennials is an easy and worthwhile task. Learn when and how and why you should divide perennials in your garden.
Do you have some perennials that are out of control? Maybe some of them just look sad; they’re starting to bald in the center and hardly bloomed last year. Or maybe, you wish you had more of the same plant in another part of your yard. These are all great reasons for dividing perennials and maintaining beautiful plants in the garden.
Sometimes grass creeps into my garden, so dividing really helps me get rid of it. Otherwise, it's pretty hard to pull out individual wayward grasses.
I like to do this in the spring, which is when I am itching to get out and have lots of energy for garden work. Since the foliage is just starting to grow, it is easy to see what you are doing, and the ground is easy to work. Also, spring dividing gives the plants plenty of time to recuperate from the move. Though – I did note below that some plants are best divided in the summer or fall, after flowering, and some do not like to be divided at all, and are best left alone.
Try to work on a day that is cloudy, and one that is not too hot. If rain is in the forecast for the next day or so, you will be ahead of the game.
Once three or four inches of growth appear, dig all around the plant a couple of inches away from the leaves, using a spade or a pitch fork. Then, try and lift as much of the root ball as you can. Next, shake off the soil or gently hose it off, to see where you can easily separate the clump into two or three pieces by gently pulling or using a sharp knife.
Replant the divisions at the same depth they were growing in before, and try to add some compost to the new hole along with the garden soil. Give it a thorough drink of water mixed with a little fertilizer, and you are all set. Keep an eye on the plants, making sure that they do not dry out while they re-establish themselves.
If you find yourself with a lot of extras, give them away to family, friends and neighbors. Better yet, host a garden party and give them as favors, or plan a plant swap. It's so much fun to see what everyone else is growing, and chances are, if it grew well in your friends yard, it will probably grow well in your yard too.
Basics on Dividing Perennials
Not sure? Here's a cheat sheet all about dividing perennials.
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