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Split & Share Perennials

This fall, do something really nice for your gardening friends at no cost to you. Give them plants. No, don’t go out and buy plants. Take them from your garden.

Fall is for planting. It’s also for splitting perennials. If you are a seasoned gardener, I’m sure you already split your perennials every year. If, however, you are a new gardener, you may not.

Many individual perennial plants grow and grow until they get too big and unwieldy. Something has to be done. You don’t want to just dig them out and start over. So, you trim and split them.

If they have grown too tall, they should be cut back to a manageable height. They should also be split into four smaller plants. Here’s how it is done:

Dig up the whole perennial. Lay it on the ground and split the root in half. Then cut each half in half. In other words, quarter the plant. The tool of choice for this task is whatever it takes. A plant with thin, tender roots may be cut with a trowel or pruning shears. Bigger, thicker roots may need a shovel, while the really obstinate roots may need loppers to cut them apart.

Return one of the quarters to the hole in your garden from which you dug the plant. Replant it just as you would a new plant – hole at least twice the diameter of the root, but no deeper. Hold the plant upright in the hole as you backfill up to the previous soil line. Tamp lightly to remove any air pockets and give it a good drink of water.

Place the other three new plants in pots and give them to your gardening friends. Hopefully, they will do the same for you. This is a good way to expand and diversify your perennial beds without spending a cent. Get a group of friends together over a cup of coffee or iced tea and make the plant exchange a social event. It’s great fun.

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