Love Of Nature, Photography, Gardening And Country Valley Living

Saturday, September 8, 2012

Fall Division of Perennials

         A bit of helpful info from my garden centre   !

Fall is a great time to get back out into the garden and start evaluating your perennial beds. Now is a good time to divide many perennials and move others around if you've found they aren't in the right spot for you. Most gardeners start the season in the early spring by dividing and adding perennials, but if you missed the opportunity at the beginning of the season to do this, you can still get some work done now so that next spring, you can relax a little.

Most perennials take well to being divided at any time during the season, as long as they are given plenty of water and some fertilizer in their new homes. So, how do you know when the best time to divide certain perennials is? As a rule of thumb, spring and early summer flowering perennials are said to be best moved and divided in the fall, and any later summer through fall bloomers should be moved in the spring. This however is a rule that can generally be broken as long as any divided perennials are kept well watered in their new homes.

The best time to attack the fall division of perennials is when the foliage has started to yellow off after the first couple of frosts. At this point, your perennials will be heading into dormancy, so won't even know what you've done 'til next spring when they wake up again!

To start dividing your perennials, you will need to first cut back most of the foliage to make your job easier. Start by inserting your shovel into ground around the outside edge of the plant growth. This area is referred to as the 'drip-line' of the plant. Work your way around the drip-line of the plant, inserting your shovel into the ground deeply all the way around to loosen up the patch and make lifting it easier. Once you have done this, lift the patch out with the shovel and start to shake off all the excess soil around the roots.

Once you have shaken off all the excess soil, you will be left with a patch of roots and growth that may resemble the picture below.

Once you have it out of the ground, you will first want to make sure all the roots are healthy and firm. If any pieces of the roots are soft and squishy, cut these out and discard them. Once you have only healthy roots and plants left, you can start to divide them up. Don't worry; it's not a delicate job where you have to be very exact.

The best way to divide large heavy clumps of perennials, such as daylilies, hostas and coneflowers is to take 2 large garden forks and insert them into the centre of the clump and start pulling them in opposite directions. Some perennials will require a little more effort than others to divide, so don't worry about ripping the roots. When dividing peonies, you want to make sure that you each section has at least one eye in it. The eye is the little bit of growth visible just below the soil line when dug out. With peonies you can either pry pieces away, or take a sharp clean knife and cut sections. Make sure that all pieces are healthy and firm with no rotten roots attached. If there are any rotten or mushy pieces, cut these away and discard them in your compost or garbage.

With perennials, you can divide a mature clump into many pieces without worrying about hurting the plant. Make sure that each piece is a good size though, so that you aren't re-planting very small clumps. Small clumps may take a few seasons to fill in again and may look small and sad for the next season or so. If you are dividing irises, you can divide them into small pieces, but when replanting, group a few smaller pieces together for a good show over the next season or so whilst they fill in again.

Replant all perennials at the same depth as they were before the division, ensuring all the roots are covered in soil. Add some compost or manure to the soil before replanting to help rejuvenate older soils. Once all clumps have been re-planted, give them a good deep watering to settle the soil around the roots. Because it is late in the season, using a transplant fertilizer is not necessary at the stage, however adding a small handful of bone meal to the bottom of the planting hole will help the divided plants to root next spring when the plants start to take up moisture and nutrients early in the season. As a final step before heading out of the garden, a layer of mulch is a good idea in any garden, especially so when perennials have been divided and moved. It provides much needed moisture around the roots, and also extra insulation for the winter. A layer 2-3" deep is ideal. When placing mulch around perennials, make sure you keep the mulch away from the crown of the plant, a good rule is to put your index and middle fingers together next the crown of the plant and place mulch up to the outside edge of your fingers, but no closer to the plant. This is will ensure that extra moisture is not stored at the crown of the plant, which can cause rotting during the season, especially in the early part of the year when it is usually quite wet.

If you don't want to re-plant all the pieces of perennials that you divided, consider giving some away to friends and family. If you are transporting these pieces, place them in an old plastic pot or in a piece of plastic and cover the roots with soil to keep them moist until they can be re-planted in their new home!

         We got lots of rain last night and most of the day today . Right now it is sunny with cloudy periods and a cool fall like breeze and guess what ?  No HUMIDITY !! finally ! Windows are wide open today !                                   

                                         Some of  September’s wild  grasses and flowers !DSC_0010DSC_0012

                                                  Until next time , have a good day !

                                                  Country Gal


DeniseinVA said...

That's great advice. I still feel a bit of a novice in the garden even after all these years, and of course I always love your photos.

Julie Marie said...

Sounds like a perfect September day... rain and open windows!... pretty flowers and grasses, xoxo Julie Marie

黄清华 Wong Ching Wah said...

Thanks for lesson! Enjoy the weekend !

~Kim at Golden Pines~ said...

I was just thinking today about dividing my perennials and your post is really timely and full of great advice, that I'll certainly put to use--THANKS!!

I hope you've enjoyed your day!!

Teacup Mosaics said...

A great reminder we are getting close to relocating and thinning the friends of my garden. I always perfer fall so when spring comes along it is like a little gifts sprouting everywhere.
I jumped over from Laughing with Angels, I can see I will be visiting again.
Wishing you a Happy Week!