Perennial plants are a wonderful way to add color and ease in care to your garden areas. By using a combination of perennials, which take less care, and annual flowers you can easily create a wonderful backyard flower garden that will add to your garden area and home décor.
photo credit: amy_b
While perennials are easy to care for they do need to be divided when they get overcrowded. This will be every three to five years depending on the variety. If not divided, perennials will not flower as well and will not have a healthy robust look. You also have the added benefit of more plants for your garden areas if you divide the plants.
Perennials are divided in the fall or spring depending on what variety they are. If you plan to divide your perennials this spring here are some helpful hints on how to proceed.
Take care in up the entire root system, including all the soil from about 6 to 8 inches around the roots. A spade or spading fork seems to work best for this. Gently separate the root clumps with your hands by shaking off the excess soil. Then you will be able to pull the roots apart into divisions without damaging the roots.
If the roots are growing in tight clumps use two forks to help encourage the roots to separate. To do this by placing the forks, with their backsides together, between the clumps then push the handles apart. This should gently pry the plants apart.
Now it’s time to replant the new divisions in the ground. If your new garden area is not ready, place the plants in containers filled with a soil mix. It’s very important to get the divisions in soil as soon as possible so that the roots do not dry out. I don’t divide my perennials until I have their new location chosen. It’s just easier on the plants. Water well.
If the perennial plant you are digging up has runners (underground stems) or spreads by growing roots through the soil and sending up stems above ground, it will need to be treated as a single stem perennial. The following method will work better for transplanting this type of plant.
Plunge a shovel or spade straight down into the soil between groups of upright, stems that are above ground. This will separate the plant into sections. Next dig up a clump of soil that has three or four stems growing and shows a root system. You now have a new plant. Continue this method until you have thinned the plant down. Depending on the plants size you may end up with two to six more plants.
Refill any holes in the ground near the original plant with fresh fertilized soil and water well. I usually use a little compost tea to help the plant with any shock it suffers from dividing the plant.
Replant the new plants and water well. Again, it’s best to divide plants on an overcast day. I have also found digging up the perennials that send out roots dig up better when the soil is wet. You can water the ground the day before you dig up the plants or dig them up after a rain.
Breaking up your perennials will keep your plants healthier and will give you more plants to use in your gardens or to trade for other plants you may want. I have traded my left over perennials for many new plants and even a few trees and shrubs. It has saved me a lot of money over the years