All Things Green
Last Updated on Wednesday, 06 April 2011 03:33 Written by Georgianne Kennedy Wednesday, 30 March 2011 00:00
(or How to Cut Spending on Plants)
If you’re itching to get your hands and knees completely covered in earth, here is a garden task that will give you a great deal of gratification. Make more plants!! You can divide your overgrown perennials as soon as you can see what you have in the garden. I can think of four great reasons to divide perennials:
1. Cost: Plants are always propagating underground. Why pay for what nature does free? You can save yourself the agony of regret over impulse purchases when the fragrant nurseries call you.
2. Health: Strong roots need sufficient space. Division keeps the plant from dying due to overcrowding. By dividing, you give each separated plant more wiggle room and greater opportunity for gathering nutrients.
3. The Wow! Factor: Masses of beautiful varieties have great design impact. Make more! Every time you divide you make one into two and then two into four….
4. Generosity: Share lovely extra plants with friends. Please don’t give away your problem plants. Divide and give away (or sell) your treasured favourites. If you start in April or early May, you can donate them to a charity plant sale.
When Should I Divide the plants?
When your herbaceous perennial seems crowded or the centre crown looks empty, it needs a larger space. Ideally, division is done in spring or in early fall, not when it is in bloom. Divide spring-blooming plants such as iris in late summer or early fall. Plants have an easier recovery time when the temperatures are cool.
How to Divide: A Few Examples
Coral Bells (Heuchera) EASY Plants with many crowns and shallow roots, such as coral bells and Lady’s Mantle (Alchemilla mollis) can be gently pried out of the earth with a spade and pulled apart by hand. Ensure that every new piece contains undamaged root and stem.
Woolly Thyme (Thymus pseudolanuginosus) EASY You can divide your newly acquired thyme, sweet woodruff (Galium odoratum), Creeping Jenny (Lysimachia nummularia) and other small groundcovers into small sections using clean clippers or garden scissors.
Hosta (Hosta) and Day Lilies (Hemerocallis) STRENUOUS Dig up the whole plant. Some gardeners hose off the entire plant for better visibility. Use a clean (not too sharp) knife and work the sections apart. The more shoots per division, the more vigorous the new plant will be. It’s true that some gardeners push two garden forks or a shovel in the centre of the plant and use them to separate a large clump, but this method can damage the plant to some extent.
- Discard dead or damaged portions. Cut down day lily leaves and large hosta leaves.
- Keep plants cool and damp while awaiting planting.
- Create planting holes larger than the root. Line the bottom with compost.
- Add transplanter liquid or compost to the hole. Water.
- Place the plant in the hole and cover its roots with good soil. Water generously.
- Compost and mulch in the fall.
Have patience. Give your plants plenty of water and time to get established. For specific instructions on dividing all kinds of plants, read Making More Plants by Ken Druse.