Dig, Divide, and Multiply Your Plants
Get out your spades, pitchforks, pruners, and gloves because fall is the time to clean up the garden from oppressive summer weeds and manage perennials that are overgrown or just need rejuvenating.
Plants are amazing. Many can easily be propagated through division. Dividing plants not only invigorates plants when done at the right time of year, it also improves their health and bloom.
Dividing plants involves digging up all or part of a plant and splitting it into several sections, all of which still have roots. Fall is one of the best times to do this. Plants are starting to go dormant, but the soil is still warm. Most perennials benefit from division once every 2-5 years depending on the species.
There are two primary methods of dividing perennials. 1. Digging up a clump of plant and taking a spade and dividing the clump into smaller clumps. 2. Leaving the main clump of plant in the ground and taking a spade and severing off a clump. In both cases, the newly divided plants have all their parts (leaves, stems, and roots) and only need to be replanted and watered in to reestablish themselves in their new garden home. It is also helpful to discard older woody parts of the plant and to replant only healthy young sections from the outer parts of the plant.
Two pitchforks can also be used to split fibrous rooted herbaceous plants. This is done by digging up a perennial and placing the two pitchforks back to back and pulling the roots apart by moving the pitchfork handles away from each other.
Follow this step-by-step process below to divide your perennials:
1. Take a shovel and dig up a perennial plant clump.
2. Place the clump on the ground and with a spade break the clump up into smaller sections.
3. Cut back the spent foliage.
4. Replant the newly divided plants and find new homes for the rest.
Photos courtesy of Michelle Wallace.
Michelle Wallace is a freelance garden writer