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How to Divide Perennials

Our tips for dividing perennials will help you have a healthy and thriving garden.

If you aren’t familiar, dividing your perennials should be a part of your gardening routine. Dividing perennials is one strategy for improving the health and beauty of your garden. Read on for tips on why you should divide your perennials and how to do it. Get ready to divide and conquer!



Why Divide Perennials?

There are many reasons for dividing your perennials:

- If you notice there are “bald spots,” or your patch of perennials is starting to resemble a doughnut, it’s a sign that they are not thriving, and you need to start dividing.

- Another sign that you need to divide your perennials is if your perennials aren’t flowering as frequently or as impressively. The plant may be crowded, or the roots are old. When plants get crowded, they begin to compete for nutrients and root space, and they won’t be able to thrive fully.

- The plant itself may be struggling or looking unwell. If you notice yellowing leaves or a lack of overall growth, first try adding fertilizer, but it may be time to divide and relocate.

- Weed attack! If weeds have infested your patch of perennials and you can’t fix it with a simple weed pruning, it may be wise to uproot your plants, pick out the weeds, and replant.

- Dividing your perennials is also a great idea if you just want more of your favorite plant. Dividing perennials means you can relocate some to another area for more ground cover, or you can pass them along to a friend.


When to Divide Perennials

Timing is important when it comes to dividing perennials. If the plant blooms between early spring and early summer, you should divide it at the beginning of fall. If the plant is a later-summer bloomer, you can divide it in spring. The best time to divide a perennial is after its blooming cycle. After they have been uprooted and replanted, they will need some time to recover.
  • Ornamental Grasses should be divided in spring.
  • Peonies should only be divided in the fall.
  • Lilies should be divided in mid to late fall. Daylilies can handle being split up nearly anytime, but spring is likely best.
  • Irises should be divided after their spectacular summer blooms have finished.


How to Divide your Perennials

Don’t be intimidated! Dividing your perennials doesn’t have to be scary. Try to choose an overcast day to get your green thumb going. A day that is too hot and sunny will dry out the plants and could damage them. The day before you dig in, water the soil well to make sure the plants have had a good drink. Ideally, you will be able to divide and transplant after some rainier days so that all plants, and the spaces they are relocating to are well hydrated. On the day of the dig, use a fork or spade to gently lift the “parent” plant out of the ground. Make sure you remove excess dirt off the roots with your gloved hands or by shaking the plant gently.

We like the Root Slayer or Root Slayer Mini for digging up perennials and for planting new ones. There are three main ways to divide one plant into multiple smaller ones:

- Cut them with a sharp knife

- Gently pull apart the roots with your hand

- Insert two forks back to back into the clump of roots and gently pull them apart. You should have 3-5 new plants, each with a healthy root system attached!

- Keep each of your new babies out of the hot heat of the sun and keep them moist.


re planting a divided perennial

Replanting Divided Perennials

When you’re ready, prepare the space where you will replant the divided perennials. If you’re not planning on getting them into your garden right away, you should get them into pots as soon as possible. Dig up space for your divided perennials in a similar size and depth as they were originally planted. Try to recreate a similar environment as what they are used to avoid shocking the plant. When planting perennials, make sure the soil where you are planting them is moist. You can add some mulch around the base of the plants to help regulate moisture and keep nasty weeds at bay.


Dividing perennials is easy and a great way to keep your garden looking beautiful and healthy. If you are looking for any tips for how to divide perennials in Bettendorf, please visit us! We are always happy to help answer any of your home and garden questions.


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