You can make three gardening friends happy and your garden happy with just a few minutes of work. All you have to do is divide an overgrown perennial. A few more minutes to split another perennial and you can please three more friends and your garden will be even happier. Fall is the best season for all this happiness to take place.
If you’re new to gardening, you surely have seen those small perennials you planted grow and grow and grow over the last year or two or more. Gardens don’t like crowding and, despite the temptation to rip out those unruly perennials, the proper procedure is to split them.
Fall is a good time to split perennials because fall is for planting. You’ll give each new perennial that you create an opportunity to become well established before winter sets in.
Perennial splitting can be good exercise and a stress reliever. Here’s how it’s done:
- Dig up the whole plant with as much root as possible.
- Shake the soil from around the root on to a tarp.
- Lay the plant on its side on the ground and, with a sharp tool, cut it in half and then quarters. The tool you use is a personal preference. The root thickness also influences your choice of tools. Some use a shovel, some a hoe, others an axe and a few a saw. The two most important considerations are that you are comfortable using the tool and that the blade is sharp.
- Replant one quarter in the hole from which the plant was dug. Backfill and water the same way you would a nursery-fresh plant.
- Plant the other three quarters in nursery pots and give them to friends for their gardens, plant them in different gardens on your property, donate them to a plant exchange or give them to your community parks department for planting in a public garden.
- If you have more than one perennial in the overgrown garden, repeat the procedure and spread even more happiness.
Perennials give gardens their lasting beauty, beauty that it behooves us to share with others. When you split overgrown perennials, you extend your gardening season, or someone else’s, without spending a penny. I call that a good deal, and it’s fun.