Having a healthy garden and landscape involves more than just planting, trimming, and watering. Sometimes, perennials need a bit of help to keep them growing healthy and full. One of the best tasks one can do during the spring or late summer is to divide perennials. Here is a handy guide on the why, when, and how of the matter.
Benefits of Dividing Perennials
Over time, perennials can start to thin out or produce smaller blooms. You might begin to see bald spots or plants that are falling over due to top-heaviness. It’s time to divide your perennials!
Dividing perennials can solve these problems and more. First, it can either help you increase the number of plants in your flower bed or alleviate an overcrowded bed. Dividing older, larger plants into smaller ones can encourage new growth and better performance. Alternatively, it can allow for more room for roots to breathe and spread out.
This procedure can also help to control the growth of some plants; creating smaller plants out of one large one restarts growth and keeps plants smaller and stunt rapid spreading.
When to Divide Perennials
It is best to do this task or hire someone to do it after a rainy spell on a cloudy day. Dividing the plants on a hot, sunny day can dry out the roots to their demise. You also want the soil to be moist before working, so water it generously the day before if it is very dry.
Divide fall-flowering plants in the spring. You want to avoid dividing plants when they are blooming so they can focus their energy in growing new roots and shoots. Plus, new spring leaves won’t suffer as much as fully-grown ones in fall. After dividing the roots in spring, your fall-flowering plants will have all summer and fall to recover.
Divide spring-flowering plants in the fall, after their blooming season is over. It isn’t as hard to divide plants in the fall or late summer because there is less gardening to do anyway, and it will be easier to see what patches are bare or overcrowded.
How to Divide Perennials
To divide perennials, dig up the parent plant with a spade or fork. Get rid of the excess dirt and locate where the most obvious segments are. Each segment should have at least one shoot and a healthy root system. Gently break these segments apart and make sure to remove any diseased portions with sanitized tools. Plant the segments back into your desired locations and water them well.
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