Your local independent, family run, Dartmouth garden centre, café and farm shop

Gardening Tips

Guide to Splitting Herbaceous Perennials

Splitting herbaceous perennials is an excellent way to propagate and rejuvenate your garden plants. This process involves dividing the clumps of mature perennials into smaller sections, each containing a healthy root system and foliage. By splitting perennials, you can create new plants, control their size, and promote better growth. Here’s a step-by-step guide to help you successfully split your herbaceous perennials:

  1. Timing: Choose the appropriate time to split your herbaceous perennials. The best time is typically in early spring or autumn when the plants are dormant or showing signs of new growth. However, some perennials may have specific preferences, so it’s a good idea to research the particular species you’re working with.
  2. Preparation: Gather the necessary tools, including a garden fork or spade, a sharp knife or garden shears, gardening gloves, a trowel, and a watering can or hose. Prepare the new planting locations beforehand, ensuring they have suitable soil, light, and drainage conditions for the specific perennials.
  3. Watering: A day or two before you plan to split your perennials, water the plants thoroughly. Moist soil makes it easier to separate the root clumps and minimizes transplant shock.
  4. Digging: Carefully dig around the base of the perennial clump, creating a wide circle to avoid damaging the roots. Use a garden fork or spade to gently lift the clump from the ground. For larger or more established perennials, you might need to divide them into several sections.
  5. Division: Once you’ve lifted the clump, examine it for natural divisions or areas where the plant naturally separates into smaller sections. Look for individual crowns or groups of shoots that can be split apart. Use a sharp knife or garden shears to cut through the roots and foliage, ensuring each new section has a good set of roots and foliage.
  6. Trimming: Trim back the foliage of each divided section to reduce stress on the plant and balance the root-to-shoot ratio. Remove any damaged or diseased leaves, and if the roots are excessively long, you can trim them slightly to promote new growth.
  7. Planting: Dig individual holes for each divided section in the new planting locations. Make sure the holes are wide and deep enough to accommodate the roots comfortably. Space the new plants according to the specific spacing recommendations for each perennial species. Place each section into its respective hole and backfill with soil, gently firming it around the roots.
  8. Watering and Mulching: After planting, water the newly divided perennials thoroughly to settle the soil and remove any air pockets around the roots. Apply a layer of organic mulch around the plants to help retain moisture, suppress weeds, and protect the roots.
  9. Post-Care: Monitor the divided perennials closely in the weeks following transplantation. Keep the soil consistently moist but not waterlogged. Provide adequate sunlight based on the plant’s requirements. If necessary, stake taller perennials to provide support. Regularly remove weeds and check for any signs of pests or diseases.
  10. Patience and Maintenance: It may take some time for the divided perennials to establish themselves fully and resume vigorous growth. Be patient and provide regular care, including watering, fertilizing, and seasonal maintenance, as needed. Over time, the new plants will develop and bloom, enriching your garden with their beauty.

Remember to consult specific plant care guides or gardening references for the particular herbaceous perennials you’re working with, as different species may have unique requirements. With proper care and attention, splitting herbaceous perennials can be a rewarding and effective way to expand your garden and share your favorite plants with others.

Date posted: March 1, 2023
Contributor: Garden Time

view all gardening tips
WordPress Cookie Plugin by Real Cookie Banner