Spring is one of the best times to divide the ever-proliferating perennials in your garden, according to one local horticulturist.
Mary Ann Woodworth, of Greenbrier Nursery and Gifts in Evans, said that nonwoody plants are among the most commonly divided.
Dividing your perennials should coincide with the desired planting date.
"The rule of thumb is to divide plants when they are dormant in the spring or fall," Woodworth said.
"Divide early-blooming species in the fall and late-blooming species in the spring."
When dividing plants in the spring, it's important to wait until they are up two- to three-inches tall.
For fall plant division, plants can be divided once growth has slowed down, there are no visible flowers and the foliage is dying back.
Perennials are divided for a number of reasons: to control size, to rejuvenate plants and for propagation.
There a number of books on the market which discuss plant division.
Among them is Jackson and Perkins: Selecting, Growing and Combining Outstanding Perennials Southern Edition by Terri Dunn and Walter Reeves. Dunn and Reeves say that plant division can occur by either digging the plant up or by dividing the plant while still in the ground.
According to the University System of Georgia Extension Service, mature clumps can be cut or pulled apart and divisions should usually contain three to five shoots or growing points. Weak or diseased divisions should be discarded.
"Try to keep as much of the root system intact as possible," said Woodworth, who also suggested gardeners use a sharp cutting tool for a clean cut.
Woodworth said there are a lot of popular perennials that are typically divided in the spring.
They include hostas, mondo grass, daylilies, iris, salvia, verbena, chrysanthemum, canna and calla lily. Viola, phlox and dianthus are among the plants that can be divided in either spring or fall.
"Certain perennials require dividing to maintain vigor," she said.
"As an example, Shasta daisy requires dividing every year or two."
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