To keep your garden looking its best in the spring, large, dense perennials should be divided into smaller plants.
Dividing plants may seem like a lot of work, but this will keep your plants healthy and attractive! This extra bit of work will give the plants room to breathe and grow. In addition, it will also help plants bloom more prolifically, as crowded plants will become less productive. And as a bonus, you will get new plants for your garden!
When your perennial starts producing fewer flowers or when it looks like a doughnut, where the center of the plant looks sickly, while the rest of the plant looks healthy and thriving, it is time to start dividing! Even if your plants are healthy, you can divide plants to give them away to neighbours and friends.
- shovel, spade or garden forks
- pruners or sharp knife
- Using a shovel, carefully dig up the plant. Leave the soil around the roots, as it will protect the roots and keep them from drying out.
- Once the plant is out of the soil, use a sharp spade or your hands to break the clump into 2 or more pieces. Make sure each division has roots and growing points.
- Remove any dead or disease foliage and stems.
- Replant the new pieces as soon as possible, making sure the roots don’t dry out. The perennials can be planted in the same spot or moved to a different spot in the garden. Add compost or other organic matter to create a fertile, well-drained spot for your plants.
- As with any new plant, water thoroughly.
Tips on Dividing Perennials
- Plants should be divided when they are dormant. Spring bloomers are divided in the fall; fall bloomers can be divided in the spring. Most perennials can be divided safely in the early spring.
- As a general guideline, perennials should be lifted and divided every 3-5 years.
- Choose a cool, cloudy day to divide and replant.
- If the ground is too dry, soak the area around the plant with water and let it drain.
- Trimming the leaves and stems to 6-8 inches tall will make the handling of the plant easier.
What are you waiting for? Go divide and conquer!