Blue salvias, day lilies, phlox or whatever your perennial of choice, all have something in common: Sooner or later, they will need to be divided.
Normally, dividing is done for the health of a plant.
"I have a number of day lilies in my garden," said master gardener Dorothy Packard, of Evans. "And to me, they just do better when they're divided."
"Just dig up a clump, and you will need one shoot and one piece of root for each transplant," advised Jenny Addie, of Green Thumb West Nursery.
Some perennials can be divided by pulling sections apart by hand or by using two forks back to back. Plants that have solid, fleshy roots can be divided easily with a spade.
Each variety of plant will give a clear sign of when it needs to be divided.
Cessation of bloom is usually the first and most obvious indicator that a division needs to take place. If it is a perennial that once bloomed profusely, its current growing conditions might be a bit too cramped.
When the overall vigor of a plant decreases, producing not only fewer flower buds but also smaller ones, it might need to be divided.
"Hostas are another good plant that benefit from division," Addie said.
"To divide the plant, use a hatchet and divide it into four pieces," she said. "Just do it while you still have some vegetation."
Despite your best efforts, some perennials should be left intact. The process of division is traumatic, and they will not benefit from being disturbed.
Milkweeds and gas plants are two plants that under good growing conditions will continue to thrive without being divided.
Most perennials should be divided soon after they bloom, Addie said. By doing so, any new divisions should be well-established by the winter.
When it's time to replant, be sure that the roots are well spread out in the planting hole and the plant is firmly set in. Thoroughly water the new divisions, taking care not to expose the roots by washing away any soil.
Dividing is an inexpensive way to grow your garden, and now is a good time to dig, divide and share for the eighth annual Plant Swap.
It will take place from 9 a.m. to noon Saturday, Sept. 29, at the Savannah Rapids Pavilion. A variety of plants will be available to swap or to purchase.
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