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Jul 02, 2017

Garden Club R.F.D. Advises: Multiply Plants by Dividing Them

In May, Garden Club R.F.D. held a successful plant sale over Mother’s Day weekend. Beautiful hydrangea, hosta, and Phenomenal Lavender were sold, in addition to donated plants from members’ home gardens. Many gardening questions were answered by members, as well as by the visiting Master Gardeners, who manned a help desk. Some customers had questions about an easy way to improve the health of mature plants in a home garden and increase the number of perennials. To do so, you multiply your perennials by dividing them! Here’s a quick tutorial on how it is done for three types of perennials you may own.

Perennials with a fibrous root system: Daylilies are a prime example of this type of perennial, which is best divided in the spring.

  1. Dig up the plant by inserting a spading fork into the ground, about one foot from the edge of the clump. Spade all around the clump until the entire root ball is loosened.
  2. Cut back all but a few inches of above ground growth.
  3. Using two spading forks inserted back to back, pry the large clump apart.
  4. Clean the smaller clumps with a hose to remove as much soil as possible from the roots.
  5. Using a sharp, non-serrated knife, further divide the smaller clumps into divisions that have 3-5 eyes or shoots.
  6. Replant divisions slightly higher than the surrounding bed because the soil will settle when you water.
  7. Take care of your new perennials by watering and protecting them from the elements as needed.

Perennials with a fleshy root system:  Peonies would be an example of this type, best divided in the fall.

  1. The process is the same as above, even though the root system looks very different, but do not use the two-fork method. Instead, wash roots clean with a hose and then divide with a sharp knife.
  2. When you get to step 6 above, replant divisions at the specific planting depth recommended for the variety you have. Dig your hole and measure the depth by placing a ruler in the hole and against the tool handle that you have placed across the planting hole.
  3. The new plant may not look terrific at this point, but with a little care, your perennials will multiply.

Perennials that grow from a bulb:  Hyacinths are this type.

  1. Dig up your plant with the bulbs and fibrous feeder roots.
  2. The individual bulbs should come apart easily. The original bulb should have multiplied into two or more bulbs. Separate and plant.
  3. You will have many new plants next spring and for years to come.

Division is an essential tool in the creation of a great perennial garden. Perennials are remarkably tough and most really do benefit from being divided and transplanted. Multiply by dividing!

If interested in finding out more about Garden Club R.F.D., call Nancy Canade at (973) 452-4846 for further information.