We all enjoy selecting new varieties to try in the garden each season, but it’s important (and fun) to also take advantage of what’s already on your property. Many perennials that have lived in your garden for several years can be divided and moved in the early spring, offering an economical way to add color to multiple beds throughout your landscape. Bonus: these plants are already thriving in your soil, so they should do very well in other parts of your garden.
Which Varieties Should You Divide?
First, let’s start with what not to divide. There are some varieties, including Lupine, Bleeding Heart and Butterfly Weed, that have a single, large taproot or crown that their flowers stem from. These varieties typically won’t do well if divided.
However, there are several varieties that are actually rejuvenated when divided. After years of good growth in the garden, they will do well to be divided and moved around. These varieties include:
When To Divide Your Plants
We recommend getting ahead of your plants and not waiting until your perennials have outgrown their space so much they are crowding each other out and dying.
Divide healthy, large plants every few seasons in the garden.
The best time to divide your plants is early spring when the plant first shows signs of new growth. This helps the new plant’s roots acclimate before the summer heat kicks in. You can also divide plants in the late fall, once they have finished growing for the season.
How To Divide Perennials
- Dig up the entire clump of the plant you are dividing. Be generous with the amount of soil you’re digging up around it to ensure you don’t cut off any root structures.
- Put the entire clump on a tarp or something similar. Shake it out to remove any excess soil.
- Then, the fun part! Take a knife (any sharper knife should do) and examine the clump of roots, cutting where it looks like there is a natural separation between shoots. If you can’t find one, simply cut in half and look again. Remember, plants are resilient!
- Divide each plant into sections at least 20% the size of the original plant. Each new clump should also have visible green growth above ground and healthy roots below.
- Once you’ve divided your plant into healthy, smaller clumps, re-plant around your garden at the same depth they were growing when you dug them up. If possible, add an organic fertilizer to help boost the new plant’s chances of growing strong and healthy in your garden.
We don’t recommend dividing while a plant is in bloom, but if you have to, be extra conscious of regular watering, care, and fertilizer.
If possible, divide your plants on a day you have time to re-plant them as well. If this isn’t possible (or if you’re giving them to a lucky friend) we recommend wetting the roots and storing them in a cool, shady spot, covering them with newspaper to keep them moist.
It’s so rewarding to get out in the garden and use existing, healthy plants to beautify your property without having to spend any extra money. What are your favorite plants to divide? Please let us know in the comments below. Happy Gardening!