Dividing Perennials

Posted by Sunset Garden Experts on

dividing perennials


I Have Several Older But Beautiful Perennials That Need Dividing. When Is The Best Time To Do This?

Because perennials are long living and grow from year to year, they do become larger and in time need to be divided. This maintenance project should be done every three to five years. The best time to divide perennials is in the spring.

As soon as the ground is thawed and can be dug, the large clump of perennial can be dug and lifted out of its growing space. This large clump can be divided in to several smaller pieces. Depending on the variety, it is easy to accomplish this with a spade, or if it is a very tough root an axe, pruning saw, secateurs, or sharp kitchen knife may be used. While this sounds like "plant abuse" it does not actually hurt the plant seriously.

If the clump is very large, only outer pieces of the plant should be used. The inner center of the clump will be the oldest, weakest and less valuable part of the plant. A new clump need only consist of three to five shoots or eyes from the roots. This division can be replanted back into the same location, or the pieces may be located to other suitable locations.

While the division is being made, ensure that any weeds or grassy roots of unwanted plants are removed from the plant. Prepare the new planting location by adding peat moss, compost, good topsoil, and or 3 way mix. Incorporate bone meal into this mixture or a similar transplanting fertilizer which promotes root growth (fertilizer high in middle number phosphorus). Then set the division into the soil again at the same elevation at which it was when removed. The prepared mixture as described above, is placed under and around the root. Firm lightly, and then a thorough watering using transplant fertilizer completes the project. Newly planted divisions such as this will begin to grow immediately, and will flourish throughout the season. Regular care is the same as for established perennials. 

Remaining pieces of quality root can be shared with friends and neighbours. Try, when giving away plants, to give the name and some helpful care information. One of the great pleasures of gardening is sharing with other gardeners.

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