Today’s subject is division. Dividing perennials that is. You thought your math days were over, right? If you’re a gardener with perennials, then wrong. You need to know division for gardeners!
Perennials are plants that regrow, year after year. As they regrow, they also increase in size. When your perennials have outgrown the space allotted to them, that’s the time to divide them.
It may seem counterintuitive to dig into the roots of the plant and tear them apart, but it is actually good for your perennials. They will continue to grow and will be healthier if you divide them correctly. Today’s post will help you learn how to do just that: dividing perennials!
Dividing Perennials: Math Class For Gardeners
Peonies are an example of a perennial that needs dividing, and they’re also some of my favorite flowers! Timing is important, so you want to divide your plants in the year when they look really good–healthy and robust, rather than yellowed, weak, or stunted. Don’t wait until a perennial has grown humongous in size and has nowhere to spread. The best rule of thumb for gardener’s division is to divide your plants at the end of the growing year when they have looked their best.
When you do dig up your perennial, where should you start digging? Take a look at the entire plant, including the foliage. Draw an imaginary circle around the plant where its farthest leaf tips reach. That circle is known as the plant’s “drip line,” or the spot where water would drip off the outside leaves. Dig at the drip line for best results, digging a trench all around the plant. Then lift the root ball from underneath to pull the plant from the ground.
If you’re dividing in the Fall, it is easiest to divide the plant after you cut back its foliage for Winter.
Generally speaking, divide when the soil temperature is warmer than the air temperature. That will be early Spring, or early Fall. Fall is preferred, as it gives the plant time to spread its roots before it has to think about preparing for a bloom.
You can divide the plant as much or as little as you like. You can cut it in half, or in quarters, or in individual small stems. Whatever you do, replant the divided plants with good, organic soil and keep the roots moist.
If you divide a plant with parts that are less than healthy, use just the healthiest portions of the plant for replanting.
Spread the roots of your divided plants before you recover them with soil. They’ll do much better than if you curl the roots into a ball or leave them tangled.
The best perennials to divide in the Spring are those that flower after mid June. This way they have the whole summer to recover from the division. Spring is a great time for dividing most of the ornamental grasses, especially if they flower in the fall like Fountain Grass and Maiden Grass.
That will conclude today’s math class for gardeners. Now you know why dividing perennials is important, and you’ve also learned how to do it. Happy dividing!