Perennials are plants that grow back every year. We love them because of their beauty and they are mostly very low maintenance. However, every few years, we must take time to dig them up and divide the bulbs, tubers, and roots by at least 1/3. This will help the plant to grow and flourish when it’s less crowded and not competing for nutrients.
This simple task will also add more of the same kind of plants to your landscape. Or, if you would rather, you can share them with friends and family.
It is best to do the dividing on an overcast day as the direct sunlight may dry the plants out. This may make them struggle when replanted.
How to divide perennials
- Dig up the parent plant using a spade or fork.
- Gently lift the plant out of the ground and remove any loose dirt around the roots.
- Separate the plant into smaller divisions by any of these methods:
- Gently pull or tease the roots apart with your hands;
- Cut them with a sharp knife or spade;
- Or put two forks into the center of the clump, back to back, and pull the forks apart.
- Each division should have three to five vigorous shoots and a healthy supply of roots.
- Keep these divisions shaded and moist until they are replanted. Replant as soon as possible.
Divide summer and fall-blooming perennials in the spring because:
- New growth is emerging and it is easier to see what you are doing.
- Smaller leaves and shoots will not suffer as much damage as full-grown leaves and stems.
- Plants have stored up energy in their roots that will aid in their recovery.
- Rain showers that generally come along with the early season are helpful.
- Plants divided in spring have the entire growing season to recover before winter.
It can be hard to know what to divide when. Check out this PDF to help you understand what, when, and how.