How To Divide and Conquer Your Perennials
Most perennials benefit from division every two to three years. Although it’s strictly not necessary, it can be beneficial to maintain health and vigour.
Plants generally can be successfully divided at almost any time if they are kept well-watered afterwards. However, division is most successful when the plants are not in active growth.
The best time to divide your perennials
Divide summer-flowering plants in spring (March to May) or autumn (September to November) when the soil is dry enough to work. In wet autumns, delay until spring.
There are a few ways to divide perennials, but all are straightforward. Don’t be frightened to begin pulling roots apart in the Autumn as plants will be dormant.
Handy tips when dividing perennials
Lift plants gently with a garden fork, working outwards from the crown’s centre to restrict damage to roots. Shake off excess soil so that roots are clearly visible.
Some plants produce individual plantlets which can simply be teased out and replanted. These will almost fall away as you lift the plant, so you’ll know which plants you can do this with.
Small, fibrous-rooted plants such as Heuchera, and Hosta can be lifted and gently pulled apart. This should produce small clumps for replanting
Larger perennials, such as Daylily, require two garden forks inserted back to back into the crown. Use these as levers to loosen and break the root mass into two sections.
In some cases, a sharp knife, axe or lawn edging iron may be needed to cut the clump in two. Plants with woody crowns, such as Hellebores or fleshy roots require cutting with a spade or knife.
Aim to produce clumps containing three to five healthy shoots, ready for regrowth in the spring.
Setting up next year’s crop
- Collect and sow seed from perennials and hardy annuals
- Dig up remaining potatoes before slug damage spoils them
- Start to reduce the frequency of houseplant watering
- Plant spring flowering bulbs but leave tulip bulbs and daffodils until later in the year as these tend to rot.
Then it’s time to tidy up, after an afternoon well spent in the garden!
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