Tips for Dividing Perennials

After several seasons, you may start to notice perennials not looking as lively as they once did. Rather than maintaining the shape of a full cluster, the plant may begin to die in the center, forming more of a ring shape. With spring fast approaching, now is an ideal time for maintenance on these plants, as they are actively growing and can handle the slight disruption.

Keep your plants healthy and blooming, by following these tips on dividing perennials:

  • Division is good for perennials in the long run; however, initially it can be unsettling for the plant. Be sure to water thoroughly a day or two before division to prepare the roots for the disruption. This will also help soften the soil, making it easier to dig.
  • When dividing perennials that are top heavy, trim leaves by one-third to lighten the workload for the roots, allowing them to maintain the shrubbery.
  • Make sure the new hole is ready for planting before digging up the plant. This will reduce the time that the roots are out of the ground and exposed to open air.
  • You'll want to preserve as much of the root ball as possible. To do this, use a flat edge, such as a shovel, and slice around the perimeter of the plant. Dig about 6 inches deep, leaving a few inches outside the border of the foliage.
  • Only replant the healthiest pieces of a perennial. If the plant has grown unhealthy, use the outer, sprightlier pieces for your division.
  • Where perennials are removed, replace with compost before planting something else. This will revive the soil and help prevent pest infestation.
  • Treat the recently divided perennials like new seedlings; keep the plants well-watered, plant on a cloudy day and provide shade when needed.