Your Guide to Dividing and Replanting Perennials in the Fall

flowerbed flowering phlox in the garden

Are you growing perennials in your garden? You might not know this, but dividing and replanting perennials in the fall is a critical step for garden care.

It’s actually quite easy to divide the perennials in your garden without damaging the plant itself. Here’s how to do it.

Why is dividing and replanting perennials necessary?

If the leaves are starting to turn, you’ll need to divide and transplant them soon because:

  • They’ve become overgrown
  • They’re crowding the garden
  • You want to spread them around to other areas in your garden
  • You’d like to share them with a friend

Whatever your reasoning is, many perennials will benefit from division once they’re overgrown or crowding.

Identify when it’s time for dividing and replanting your perennials

Spring and fall are the ideal seasons for dividing and transplanting perennial plants:

  • Spring is best for transplanting autumn-blooming perennials
  • Fall is perfect for perennials which bloom in the springtime

Before your plants bloom, make sure they’re fully established in the ground.

Plus, they also require – at minimum – six weeks of garden care and growing time before the hard frost settles in.

wheelbarrowTools you’ll need

  • Gardening gloves
  • Shovel or spade
  • Pitchforks (two of them)
  • Compost and organic matter
  • Wheelbarrow for transporting the perennials

Prepare to divide your perennials

The day before you’re going to divide your perennial seasonal plantings, water them thoroughly.

This will help them to stock energy and nutrients and survive the shock of being transplanted.

If your perennials are tall in height, consider cutting them back approximately 33% to limit accidental breakage.

Dig up your perennials

The way you dig and divide your backyard perennials is dependent on which types you have in your garden:

  • Clumping perennials (daylilies, mums, asters, hostas): These perennials usually grow from a single crown, which gets bigger each year These plants are the simplest to divide if you dig them up completely – including the crown.
  • Spreading perennials (bee balm, phlox, leadwort): Grown by surface, under-the-ground roots or by dropped seeds, these perennials look more like individual plants with its own crown and root. Divide these plants by only digging up the ones you wish to transplant.
  • Woody perennials (lavender, rosemary, candytuft): These plants usually have a single stem or trunk, but they spread with a steam reaches the ground and takes root. Sever the root and dig up the newly grown plant.
  • Taproot perennials (oriental poppies, butterfly weed): These perennials have one main root which runs deep. Divide them by digging up the plant and cutting it so that each divided piece has some of the taproot attached to it.

Divide the perennials

Pull or cut apart the crown into approximately 3 or 4 pieces. Each piece should have multiple stems attached to it, as well as a strong clump of roots.

Larger pieces will establish quicker and bloom faster than smaller ones. As a general rule, you can expect next year’s plant to be about as wide as the newly divided root ball.

For large plants, you can place the two pitchforks directly in the middle to pull the plant apart.

Whatever you do, don’t worry about breaking a few roots. But do try to follow the plant’s natural lines of growth.

Lastly, throw away and broken or dead parts of the plant and only keep the healthiest pieces.

replanting perennialsReplant the perennials

Follow these steps to ensure your transplanted perennials will grow and thrive in their new location:

  • Dig a hole as deep – and a little wider – than the root ball
  • Mix in your compost mix and sprinkle in organic matter to help the roots grow
  • Put the divided perennial in the hole, being careful to spread out the roots and aim them downward
  • Fill around the plant with soil and pat it gently down
  • Water the transplanted perennial well (about every other day) and fertilize it on a regular basis
  • Add mulch around the plants to protect the roots and lock in moisture

Let us help you with all your fall gardening needs

If you’re looking to divide and transplant your perennials – or if you just need a hand with your fall landscaping projects, we want to help.

Request an on-site consultation today. We’ll come to you, talk about your garden care needs and make a plan to ensure your garden and properly looks its best all season long.

Lawrence Park Complete Garden Care