Are you growing perennials in your garden?
Chances are, you’ll need to divide and transplant them soon because:
- They’ve become overgrown
- They’re crowding the garden or even encroaching on your grass
- You want to spread them around to other areas in your garden
- You’d like to share them with a friend
Whatever your reasoning is, many perennials will benefit from division once they’re overgrown or crowding.
It’s actually quite easy to divide the perennials in your garden without damaging the plant itself.
Here’s how to do it.
Identify when it’s time to divide your perennials
Spring and fall are the ideal seasons for dividing and transplanting perennial plants:
- Spring is best for transplanting autumn-blooming perennials
- Fall is perfect for perennials which bloom in the springtime
Before your plants bloom, make sure they’re fully established in the ground.
Plus, they also require – at minimum – six weeks of garden care and growing time before the hard frost settles in.
Tools you’ll need
- Gardening gloves
- Shovel or spade
- Pitchforks (two of them)
- Compost and organic matter products
- Wheelbarrow for transporting the perennials
Prepare to divide your perennials
The day before you’re going to divide your perennial seasonal plantings, water them thoroughly.
This will help them to stock energy and nutrients and survive the shock of being transplanted.
If your perennials are tall in height, consider cutting them back approximately 33% to limit accidental breakage.
Dig up your perennials
The way you dig and divide your backyard perennials is dependent on which types you have in your garden design:
- Clumping perennials (daylilies, mums, asters, hostas): These perennials usually grow from a single crown, which gets bigger each year These plants are the simplest to divide if you dig them up completely – including the crown.
- Spreading perennials (bee balm, phlox, leadwort): Grown by surface, under-the-ground roots or by dropped seeds, these perennials look more like individual plants with its own crown and root. Divide these plants by only digging up the ones you wish to transplant.
- Woody perennials (lavender, rosemary, candytuft): These plants usually have a single stem or trunk, but they spread with a steam reaches the ground and takes root. Sever the root and dig up the newly grown plant.
- Taproot perennials (oriental poppies, butterfly weed): These perennials have one main root which runs deep. Divide them by digging up the plant and cutting it so that each divided piece has some of the taproot attached to it.
Divide the perennials
Pull or cut apart the crown into approximately 3 or 4 pieces. Each piece should have multiple stems attached to it, as well as a strong clump of roots.
Larger pieces will establish quicker and bloom faster than smaller ones. As a general rule, you can expect next year’s plant to be about as wide as the newly divided root ball.
For large plants, you can place the two pitchforks directly in the middle to pull the plant apart.
Whatever you do, don’t worry about breaking a few roots. But do try to follow the plant’s natural lines of growth.
Lastly, throw away and broken or dead parts of the plant and only keep the healthiest pieces.
Replant the perennials
Follow these steps to ensure your transplanted perennials will grow and thrive in their new location:
- Dig a hole as deep – and a little wider – than the root ball
- Mix in your compost mix and sprinkle in organic matter to help the roots grow
- Put the divided perennial in the hole, being careful to spread out the roots and aim them downward
- Fill around the plant with soil and pat it gently down
- Water the transplanted perennial well (about every other day) and fertilize it on a regular basis
- Add mulch around the plants to protect the roots and lock in moisture
Let us help you with your fall gardening needs
At Van Beek’s Garden Supplies, we know that fall is a great time to garden.
And if you’re looking for fall gardening tips, answers to questions or a quote on our products, we want to hear from you.