You Can Do It: Dividing Perennials

Dividing perennials is a great way to get more plants for next to nothing, just what you paid for and a little elbow grease. While some perennials never need to be divided, others may develop a dead patch in the middle or develop floppiness, which are definite signs of a crowded plant that could benefit from being divided.

Spring is the best time to divide because of the assistance that Mother Nature provides. Due to cooler temperatures and regular rains, before the plants “wake up” or soon after is a good time for most plants. However, you don’t need to wait for spring, you can divide anytime with careful monitoring, making sure the plants do not dry out once replanted. It’s best to not divide your plants while they are in bloom as they are spending a great deal of energy already, so try for before or after.

When it’s time, clip the whole plant back to 6 inches and then use a sharp, narrow shovel to dig around the clump. Use a fork to lift the whole plant out. Once it is out of the ground, you can use your shovel or a long serrated knife to cut the clump into smaller plants, about the size of the plants you buy at the garden center and no smaller, making sure to remove any “dead zones” or damaged roots.

Practice this new skill on Hostas or perennial grasses as they are most forgiving.

Then go ahead and replant your new, free plants, or share them with friends and neighbors. Make sure to keep them cool and moist until they have fully recovered and are on their way in their healthy new homes.