The Ultimate Guide to Dividing Perennials for a Thriving Garden

The Ultimate Guide to Dividing Perennials for a Thriving Garden

Perennials are a garden’s backbone, offering vibrant colour and texture year after year. To keep these plants healthy and thriving, regular maintenance, including dividing, is essential. Dividing perennials revives the plants, encourages growth, and prevents overcrowding. In this comprehensive guide, we’ll explore the what, why, when, and how of dividing perennials to help your garden flourish.  

What is Meant by Dividing Perennials? 

Perennials are plants that return year after year. Dividing perennials is a gardening technique where mature plants are split into smaller sections, each with its own roots and shoots. This process helps maintain the plants, encourages healthy growth, and prevents overcrowding. 

Why Divide Perennials? 

Dividing perennials helps rejuvenate old plants, promoting healthier and more vigorous growth. Over time, perennials can become overcrowded, leading to reduced blooming and weaker plants. Dividing them ensures each plant has enough space and resources to thrive. 

Crowded plants are also more susceptible to diseases and pests due to poor air circulation and limited access to sunlight. Dividing perennials reduces crowding, helping to prevent these issues and keep your garden healthier. 

Finally, dividing perennials allows you to redesign your garden by redistributing plants. This can create a more balanced and visually appealing garden layout. It also provides an opportunity to share plants with friends or expand your garden without additional costs. 

When Should I Divide Perennials? 

Generally, most perennials benefit from division every three to five years. There is also an ideal time of year for each plant. Here are a few guidelines: 

Ideal Timing by Season 

  • Spring: The best time to divide summer and fall-blooming perennials. This gives plants ample time to establish roots before the blooming season. 
  • Fall: Suitable for spring and early summer-blooming perennials. Dividing in the fall allows plants to establish roots before winter dormancy. 

Signs Your Perennials Need Dividing 

  • Reduced Blooming: If your perennials are producing fewer flowers, it’s a sign they may need dividing. 
  • Center Dieback: When the center of the plant becomes woody or dies out, it’s time to divide. 
  • Overcrowding: Plants spilling over into neighbouring areas or competing for space signal the need for division. 

How to Divide Perennials 

You can’t just dig up a plant and hope for the best; dividing perennials requires careful preparation and technique to ensure successful growth and minimal stress on the plants. 

Preparation + A Step-By-Step Process 

  1. Water Thoroughly: Water the plants a day before dividing to reduce stress and make the soil easier to work with. 
  1. Gather Tools: You’ll need a spade, garden fork, sharp knife, and pruning shears. 
  1. Dig Up the Plant: Carefully dig around the plant’s root ball, lifting it out of the ground. 
  1. Divide the Clump: Use a sharp knife or garden fork to divide the root ball into smaller sections. Ensure each section has a healthy amount of roots and shoots. 
  1. Replant: Plant the divisions at the same depth as the original plant, water thoroughly, and add mulch to retain moisture. 

Post-Division Care 

  • Water Regularly: Keep the soil consistently moist until the plants are well established. 
  • Mulch: Apply a layer of mulch to help retain moisture and suppress weeds. 

Perennials That Benefit from Division 

It’s worth noting that not all garden plants require regular dividing. It’s important to know which ones do so you can help them thrive and prevent stressing out an otherwise healthy plant.  

Common Perennials to Divide 

  • Hostas: Best divided in spring or fall, hostas benefit from division every three to four years. 
  • Daylilies: Divide every three to five years in spring or fall for optimal growth. 
  • Irises: Best divided in late summer, irises benefit from division every three to five years. 

Special Considerations 

  • Peonies: Unlike most perennials, peonies should only be divided in fall and only if absolutely necessary. 
  • Grasses: Ornamental grasses should be divided in spring, ensuring each division has a substantial root system. 

Overwhelmed? Let The Garden Experts Handle Your Perennials  

For expert gardening services and advice, trust Lawrence Park Complete Garden Care. Our passionate team can help you maintain a vibrant and healthy garden year-round. Contact us today to book a consultation.