After they bloom, check your spring perennials, plants that come back every year. Have they gotten too big for your garden, or maybe other plants have grown up around them? This may be a good time to divide and replant.
Dividing means separating the plant at its roots. This rejuvenates old plants and gives you free, new plants! While you can divide most perennials any time, it’s best to do it either in the spring or fall.
To prevent damage and keep flowers standing, stake young perennial plants so they won’t topple over and break as they grow.
How to Divide Perennial Plants:
- The best time to divide perennial plants is when they are beginning to sprout, but they can be divided almost any time of year.
- The day before, water your plants and cut foliage back about 1/3.
- Divide on a cool or cloudy day, so roots aren’t exposed to heat or sun.
- Use a spade or pitch fork to carefully dig up the plants. To loosen deep roots, work your blade or pitchfork back and forth.
- Use your hands to pry apart clumping plants. For big clumps, put the root ball on the ground and cut with a shovel, spade or serrated knife until you have as many new plants as you want.
- If your plant has a dense root ball, stick two garden forks, back-to-back, into the center. Pull the handles apart to separate the roots. Or use a pruning saw to carefully cut dense roots.
- If your perennial has a rhizome or tuber that grows horizontally, like bearded iris, dig it up and use a sharp knife or pruning shears to cut it into pieces. Leave at least one bud and some roots on each piece.
- Replant the divisions at the same depth they were growing.
- Water well throughout the season.
- If the weather becomes hot, shade your perennials with a row cover until they are established since dividing perennials stresses the plant.
How to Stake Your Spring Perennials:
- Use stakes, bamboo poles, cages or flower rings to help tall perennials, like peonies or lilies, stand strong. If they are bent or have fallen over, be sure to stake.
- Use one stake per for plant with just a few stalks and keep the stake close to the stem.
- Tie the plant loosely to the stake by making a figure eight, so the materials won’t cut into it. Keep the ties loose, so the plant can move. Pre-made plant ties can be cut and adjusted to any length without knotting.
- To make a cage for bushy perennials, put 3-4 stakes around the plant and wrap twine several times around the outside of the stakes.
- Be sure your supports are anchored securely.