Divide And Multiply! Share Your Perennials With FriendsFor more blooms and healthier plants next spring, rejuvenate your garden now by dividing perennials. When blooms have decreased, plants are growing in big clumps with a “donut hole” in the middle, or invading their neighbors’ space, it’s time. Clipping foliage first makes dividing perennials easier. For irises and daylilies, cut tops to 6 to 8 inches. New plants will devote energy to root growth as they settle into their new “digs.”
Next, dig all around the plant at its dripline. Then angle your shovel underneath to get as much root as possible. Lift the plant out, then shake gently to loosen roots, removing any weeds and pests. With a sharp knife, cut roots into several sections. Don’t saw back and forth; you’ll damage feeder roots. For large plants, cut the root ball before trying to lift the plant.
Replant only the healthiest parts, often the outer sections. For irises and other rhizomous roots, discard any soft parts—but not in your compost pile! Next, dig a hole big enough so you can spread roots straight out. Then work in plenty of organic matter. Set your new plant slightly on the high side, especially daylilies and others susceptible to root rot. Spread roots, then backfill with more compost and some of the soil. Tamp down, water, and mulch. For more information about dividing plants with taproots, runner roots, and other kinds of roots, visit your state university’s cooperative extension website—a free resource tailored to your geographic location.
Written by Elaine Ambrose