If your garden heavily features perennials, or plants that live for two or more years, you might have heard that it is advantageous to periodically divide them. This guide is here to help go over what dividing perennials means, the best reasons to do it, the best time to do it, and of course give some practical advice on how to do it. For those who are curious about what exactly dividing means, it is relatively self explanatory. Dividing perennials means digging and replanting individual species of plants in other parts of your garden or in another garden entirely.
Why Divide Perennials
There are many reasons why dividing is a good a strategy for perennial plants. One reason is overall health: many species of perennials grow in a way that causes clumping. If these clumps don’t go untreated they can actually start to die out and leave unsightly holes in your garden.
Another benefit is that less crowded plants are more likely to bloom bigger prettier flowers.
Finally, for the more aggressive varieties of perennials, dividing can prevent them from encroaching on their neighbors and will keep your garden looking clean and well delineated. Of course, another great side benefit is that dividing will yield extra plants for either expanding your garden or you can even give away or sell your surplus.
When To Divide Perennials
The process of division can be a stressful one for the plants involved, so it is best to try and do big dividing projects in the milder seasons. When the soil is cool and moist, like in the spring or autumn months, your plants will better be able to recover from the shock of being dug up and transplanted. However, it is possible to divide them in other seasons like summer or winter; it is important to make sure they get any extra care they might need like additional water, or extra heat though.
When looking at the plants, you will know they are ready for division when they are big enough that you can make several distinct ‘clumps’ out of them. Most perennials are ready to divide every three to four years, but do some research on the species in your garden to see if you have any that need more or less frequent dividing.
Some species, such as lavender, can actually be left alone altogether.
How To Divide Perennials
Dividing your perennials is predominantly a three step process. Step one is to prepare both the area you are going to dig and transplant to by watering the soil in both places. Step two is to dig up the plants to be divided by selecting a clump and inserting the shovel around the perimeter to carefully isolate the roots and dig underneath them. Now lift underneath the root clump to lever the plant out. Finally, you are going to separate the tops of the clump you’ve uprooted and replant in the new area as quickly as possible so the roots remain moist and healthy.