Perennial flowers bring beauty and life to your garden, year after year. But they do require a bit of maintenance each year.
Generally, fall-blooming perennials should be divided in the spring, and plants that flower in the spring or summer should be divided in the fall. Dividing perennials outside of their flowering seasons allows the plants to put all of their energy toward healthy root and leaf growth.
Why should you take the time to divide perennial flowers? And how do you go about doing it? Our outdoor plant experts offered these pro tips.
Why Should You Divide Your Perennial Flowers?
After a few years in the garden, your perennials may start to show performance issues, like smaller blooms and weaker stems. Dividing them can stimulate new growth and rejuvenate the plants for a return to more vigorous flowering.
Some varieties of perennial flowers spread rapidly through the garden. Division can help keep these plants under control, as it helps to limit their size.
Perennial division is also a cost-effective way to increase the number of flowering plants in your garden. After all, dividing perennials will give you two or three times the number of plants.
How Do You Divide Perennial Flowers?
Dividing perennials is really quite simple. First, you’ll need to gently dig them up from the ground. So, grab a sharp spade or a garden fork, and gently lift the plants out of the dirt. Remove the loose soil around the roots, along with any dead spots.
Now, carefully tease the root clumps apart into a few smaller sections, each with several strong shoots and a healthy amount of roots. You may be able to use your hands to pull the roots apart. With tougher, more fibrous-rooted perennials, however, you will likely need to use a knife or small garden spade. For really fleshy-rooted plants, you may need to use a hatchet or saw.
Replant one of your sections into the original location. Use the other perennial divisions elsewhere in your garden, or share them with family, friends or neighbors. If you won’t be planting them right away, wrap them in wet paper towels or newspaper, and place them loosely in a sealed plastic bag. Keep them in a cool location and try to get them back into the ground as soon as possible.
Tips for Dividing Perennial Flowers
To ensure that your perennial division goes well and your plants come out of it healthy and strong, do the work on a cool, overcast day. If you opt for a warm, sunny day, your plants could dry out and become damaged.
Gardening experts also suggest watering the soil the day before you plan to divide your perennials. Not only does this make your job easier, but the roots will be moist and less likely to go into shock. Make sure you plant the new divisions in prepared soil and spread mulch over and around them well to keep the roots insulated.
Do not fertilize the plants during your fall perennial division, as fertilizer will encourage new growth that will only die off with the first frost. But do continue watering weekly until the ground freezes.
If you would like to learn more about caring for your outdoor plants, stop by and talk with the friendly, professional staff at Millcreek Gardens in Salt Lake City. We are your local plant nursery and garden center, with all of the plants and supplies you need to keep your garden and landscape looking great all year long.
We look forward to seeing you soon, and helping you with all of your outdoor plants, perennial flowers and supplies.