2020 How to Divide Perennials. Wood, Christopher. Divide on an overcast day, or at least not in during the hottest part of the day. Fall or early spring are the best times for dividing perennials. The idea is to dig up as much of the root ball as possible. Still, Steven. You will still want to pre-water your plant and take as much of the root ball and soil as possible, but you do not need to dig and disturb the whole plant to reduce its size. Provide some shade if they appear to be wilting during the afternoon. When digging the hole, give the new division plenty of room to expand. This is necessary so that the plant has time to establish roots before the ground freezes. Julie Weisenhorn, Extension educator and Molly Furgeson. While spring is, generally speaking, the best time for dividing perennials, ornamental grasses, and grass-like plants such as sedges, those who really wish to "get it right" will want to treat each plant on a case by case basis.This is because some plants prefer to undergo the operation in … Most notably, ornamental grasses. Give the plant a good soaking, preferably the day before you intend to divide, to help with your success. Ornamental grasses tend to develop such heavy root systems that just digging them out of their hole is a challenge. As a bonus, you'll get even more plants out of the division. First, you dig up the clump of perennials that will be divided. Plants with fibrous roots can often be pulled apart into smaller portions by hand or back-to-back forks; others (such as hostas) can need a knife or saw to cut through their solid crowns. The right time to divide perennials depends on the type of plant and how quickly it's growing. Dividing a large clump of perennials into smaller individual plants that can be spread out or shared with friends is a great way to rejuvenate a perennial garden. You don't have to wait until your perennial plants begin looking like doughnuts—in fact, it's better if you don't. 1998. Heger, Mike, Lonnee, Debbie & Whitman, John. Press down so that the forks go through the plant. This can be done with a sharp saw, by two people and a bow saw, or even with an ax. Dividing perennials. Perennials usually grow wherever you decide to plant them without needing much encouragement. Some plants, such as the coral bells above, have a woody crown. Growing landscapes to help bees and other pollinators. Dividing perennials in your yard keep your plants healthy, prevent overcrowding and keep the appearance of your garden clean. All you need is a shovel and work gloves to get the job done. Renew and Refresh Perennial Flowers Over time, most perennials need to be divided. The University of Minnesota is an equal opportunity educator and employer. Once your garden forks are securely anchored in the center of your perennial, simply pull the handles in opposite directions, away from the center of the plant. 1992. The roots will not break cleanly, but the plant will recover. Most perennial plants can be divided with the simple two fork method, but occasionally you will encounter a perennial that has either been growing too long in one spot or that simply has a really thick root system. Plants that have multiplied into big clumps can take over and compete with others for moisture and nutrients in the soil. Divide when the plant is not flowering so it can focus all of its energy on regenerating root and leaf tissue. © Timber Press, Portland, OR. Water the soil a day in advance if the area to be worked on is dry. Gently lift the plant out of the ground and remove any loose dirt around the roots. However, after several seasons of growing, the plants will begin to die out in the center—and it will look more like a ring than a clump. Primroses have short stemmed flowers and polyanthus have long stemmed flowers. Stipes Publishing Company, Champaign, IL. Manual of Herbaceous Landscape Plants. Ideally, divide plants when there are a couple days of showers in the forecast to provide enough moisture for the new transplants. As perennials mature, their roots become crowded. Extension is expanding its online education and resources to adapt to COVID-19 restrictions. If daytime temperatures are around 50F-60F (10C-15C), then it is a good time to divide… All rights reserved. I would love to hear from you. Keep pulling on the handles until the plant has completely split into two plants. They grow by forming clumps that get larger and larger. Hot sun and breezes will quickly dry the roots. To keep your perennial gardens healthy you need to divide several kinds of perennials periodically. Before we look at dividing plants in the summer, it’s important to know there are a few perennial plants to avoid. If so, use the shovel as a lever and lift the plant manually. A number of perennial plants grow in an ever-widening clump. If you find you must divide a plant with a great deal of top growth, cut back the leaves by about one-third to lessen the amount of work the roots will need to do to maintain the foliage. You will probably hear some cracking as the plant splits. The 5-Step Perennial Dividing Process Facts on File, New York, NY. Once you have replanted the divisions, treat them like new seedlings. How To Divide Perennials In Late Summer And Fall When plants begin to crowd one another, it’s a good time to divide! Try lifting the plant out of the hole with the shovel, but it may be too heavy to lift this way. Dividing perennials can help manage the size of the plant. Plants have stored up energy in their roots that will aid in their recovery. Exercise caution, as garden tool handles can break and send you tumbling. This is a great way to save money, because you are basically shopping from your garden! Smaller leaves and shoots will not suffer as much damage as full-grown leaves and stems. Division is a good way to create new plants for yourself or to share with friends. However, just as different plants can go different lengths of time before being divided, some plants, such as peonies, do better when divided in the early fall. Once you have sliced completely around the plant, you will see the plant beginning to lift out of the hole. When you are ready to divide your plants, prepare the plants by watering them thoroughly the day before you are going to divide them. To keep the plants vigorous and blooming, divide the plants, and you'll be rewarded with healthier, longer-lived plants. With their fall bloom, the summer heat is simply too much stress to divide and establish new plants. Any overgrown clump—or any clump that has simply exceeded the space allotted—is a candidate for division. This is an additional advantage of watering the soil around the plant, as wet soil adheres better than dry soil. The reasons for dividing are endless. Timber Press, Portland OR. Many perennials … Here’s how and when to divide your favorite perennials. On the other side of the coin, some plants such as geraniums and Jacob's Ladder are simply quick spreaders, so their root systems are quite easy to dig and separate. Plants can be divided successfully at almost any time if they are kept well-watered afterwards. Perennials are plants that grow back each year. Perennial plants such as hostas, asters and yarrow can be divided easily with no hassle. You will find information on when to divide, how often to divide and other helpful tips. Reduced plant performance may not be the only reason to divide perennials. 1993. 1996. Plants you can divide include hardy geraniums, hostas and daylilies; autumn-flowering perennials, such as rudbeckias and asters; ornamental grasses and bamboo. Nau, Jim. How To Divide Perennials After They Bloom In The Summer. Ball Publishing, West Chicago, IL. Growing Perennials in Cold Climates. Marie Iannotti is an author, photographer, and speaker with 27 years of experience as a Cornell Cooperative Extension Horticulture Educator and Master Gardener, Using Pitch Forks to Divide Perennial Plants, Dividing Plants Without Digging up the Original, How to Grow Nippon Daisies (Montauk Daisies), How to Transplant Rosemary Indoors for the Winter, How to Cut Back and Thin Perennial Plants. Ideally, divide plants when there are a couple days of showers in the forecast to provide enough moisture for the new transplants. These diagnostic tools will guide you step-by-step through diagnosing a plant problem or identifying a weed or insect. Place the plant on level ground nearby. Encyclopedia of Perennials: A Gardener's Guide. Dividing your perennials will help keep your plants healthy and will make more plants for future plantings. The interior of the clump, in particular, may become disappointingly unproductive. The Best Time of Year to Divide Perennials. Sometimes a densely rooted plant will resist, and it will take two people to pull the forks apart and split the plant. Divide summer-flowering plants in spring (Mar-May) or autumn (Sep-Nov) when the soil is dry enough to work. Perennials with fleshy roots such as peonies (. Or just dig out a chunk along the edge, if you don’t mind a gap in your plant for a season. The optimal time to divide specific perennials is denoted by (S) for spring and (F) for early fall. It’s a skill that every gardener should know how to do. Division is an easy and inexpensive way to increase the number of plants in your garden. Plus, it’s not difficult and is really economical. 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