If your perennials didn’t put on their usual show this spring, it may be time to dig and divide. Perennials need space, and once they become crowded, blooms can become smaller and infrequent. Dividing the plants to create more room usually restores their vigor.
Spring and fall are good times to divide many perennials. If you are unsure about the timing, here is a good rule of thumb. If the plant blooms in the spring, divide it after it blooms or in the fall. If the plant blooms in the summer or fall, divide it in the spring.
Perennials grow from underground structures like fleshy roots, rhizomes or bulbs. This is the part of the plant that needs to be divided. Dig up the plant, remove old leaves and shake off loose dirt to expose the underground parts.
Gently pull or cut the plant apart into several sections making sure each section has some recent growth at the top. Use one section to replace the original plant and set it in so that the crown is just at soil level. You can use the remaining “new” plants created from your divisions to expand your landscaping or share with gardening friends and relatives.
A fun way to get the most from your extra perennials is to organize a plant exchange in your neighborhood, civic organization, workplace or school. Encourage participants to label their contributions and provide information such as whether the plants prefer full sun or partial shade. Not only will you get new acquisitions for your home landscape, but you may even make a new gardening friend.
For more information on horticultural topics, contact the Boyle County Cooperative Extension Service. gin.
Jerry Little, Boyle County extension agent for agriculture/natural resources.