Many top quality perennial garden plants are expensive. When dividing perennials, timing and technique are important. Perennial plants are healthiest and most productive when they are young and have room to spread. You can rejuvenate even the oldest residents of a garden by occasionally dividing them. This video shows you how to divide perennial plants to make them go further.
This video explains how you can purchase the best quality plants and still fill your garden, by dividing them in the early spring.
How to divide plants
- Don’t wait until a plant has become too old or too big to divide it. When you think it looks its best, divide it at the end of that year.
- In early spring, divide the plants while the new growth is still low to the ground, so the handling of stems is not usually an issue.
- Perennials can be divided at any time of the year if you give the plant the right after-care. But it is better if the soil is warmer than the air for at least part of every 24 hour period – this is usually just before peak daffodil season in spring and in early autumn just after the nights become cool. These conditions will allow the roots of the division to grow while the tops stay low, out of the sun and wind. Dividing in the autumn rather than the spring means that the plants have more time to set new roots before the heat of the summer.
- Keep the roots cool and moist. You can put them into a bucket or box in a cool shaded place, such as a garage, and cover them with damp newspaper to slow down moisture loss. Ideally they should be replanted as soon as possible.
- If you remove a wheelbarrow full of perennials, then you should put a wheelbarrow full of compost back into that site before replanting to renew the soil, stay ahead of pest problems, and maintain fertility.
- After dividing, replant pieces that are, at most, 20 to 25 percent of the original clump. Smaller sections grow more vigorously and tend to produce stronger, longer-lasting blooms.
- If you wait until a perennial is declining because it has become crowded and weak, be sure to replant only the healthiest pieces. Usually these are the outside sections.
- Place a division into a hole that is at least as wide as its roots when spread out. Don’t turn a root tip up rather than down or curl it back around on itself to fit it into an under size hole – make the hole bigger.