The web browser you are using is out of date and no longer supported by this site. For the best TractorSupply.com experience, please consider updating your browser to the latest version.
Buy Online Pick Up in Store Now available - Tractor Supply Co.
Navigate to Shopping Cart
Cart Item Count
 
  • Left Arrow
    My Account
  • Left Arrow
    My Account
  • Make My Store

    Your nearest store doesn't match your preferred store. Do you want to change the nearest store as your preferred store?

    CONFIRM CLEAR INFO?

    Click "YES" to clear all the customer data, cart contents and start new shopping session.

    Your current shopping session will get automatically reset in seconds.
    If you are still active user then please click "NO"

    Changing your store affects your localized pricing. This includes the price of items you already have in your shopping cart. Are you sure you want to change your store?

    Your nearest store doesn't match your preferred store. Do you want to change the nearest store as your preferred store?


    • To Shop Online
    • To Check In-Store Availability

    click here
    We do not share this information with anyone. For details,please view our Privacy Policy

    Dividing Perennials | Fall 2012 Out Here Magazine

    Done correctly, it can invigorate older plants and double your flora

    person dividing flowers at the roots
    Out Here

    By Peter Fossel

    Photography by Donnie Beauchamp

    One of the nicest win-win joys of gardening lies in dividing perennials. Not only does the process rejuvenate older plants, but it leaves you with new plant material to use elsewhere or give to your neighbors.

    While many worry that dividing a perennial will kill it, the opposite is nearly always true. Perennials are tough. Be nice, but don't be afraid for them.

    Division works best when the mother plant is dormant — that is, divide spring- and summer-bloomers in the fall, and fall-bloomers in spring — giving them time to establish a good root system before blooming again.

    For fall division, separate and plant divisions a month or more before the ground freezes. For spring divisions, work early to allow roots to develop before hot weather. Work on a cool, cloudy day if possible, and with shrub-like herbaceous plants especially, soak the plant thoroughly the previous day.

    Perennials need dividing when the centers of a clump are hollow and dead, or when low foliage is sparse and poor.

    Some parent plants can be pulled apart by hand, while others — with a tough, woody root ball — may require an axe. So long as each section has a good root system, you're in business.

    Prune stems and foliage to 6-8 inches from the ground to ease the division and reduce moisture loss. Ideally, you will be able to lift the parent plant out in one piece, with a fork or spade, digging down at the drip line and lifting the plant out.

    With larger plants, dig a trench around the plant, then cut down into the plant with a sharp spade, dividing it into two to five "pie slices" before lifting the pieces out. Remove dead branches along with weak or small sections, along with the center clump if it's weaker than the outside edges.

    Some parent plants can be pulled apart by hand, while others — with a tough, woody root ball — may require an axe. So long as each section has a good root system, you're in business.

    Replant the divisions as soon as possible to prevent them from drying out. The new hole should be at least twice as wide as the plant, and fill it with a good blend of compost and topsoil. Plant to the same depth as before, and fill the hole with water. Adding a handful of bone meal will aid in new root development.

    Iris are easy; simply dig up a clump and cut apart such that each rhizome has roots and a green, leafy "fan" attached. Cut the leaves back to 6 inches, and replant, barely covering the plant and pointing the leafy end in the direction you want it to grow.

    Some say peonies don't recover well after being divided, but I've never had a problem with them coming into full bloom the following year. Just be sure the pointed, pinkish new shoots, called eyes, are planted only 1-2 inches deep.

    Some perennials that amount to small woody shrubs — such as lavender and candytuft — should not be divided. But with others, divide and multiply to your heart's content — and your neighbors'.

    Peter Fossel is a longtime organic gardener and Massachusetts grower.

     

    Popular Pages on TractorSupply.com