At this time of year, I start preparing the garden for the fall and winter. Now is a good time to look around to see where I need a plant, or where I need to thin out or move the plants. After reading an article about dividing plants, I was asked to look in my flower garden for clumping, spreading, or woody plants. Yes, I had clumps, planters and logs that needed to be divided and replanted or potted.
It’s not mathematics, but horticulture. How do you know which perennials to divide? The rule of thumb is to divide perennials every two to five years. If your plant is clumping, spreading, or woody, it’s probably time to divide. Another clue is if your plant is not blooming with fewer flowers or has stopped blooming altogether.
If your plant has wandered off into its space or seems very stressed, you may want to divide it. If your plant becomes woody, you may want to divide it. I’m not going into the wooden chapter. It’s a little more involved.
Reasons you might want to divide your perennials? “Vegetative propagation, or separating perennials into two or more cuttings,” helps the plant grow healthier with more blooms, if it does flower. The roots also have the opportunity to absorb the nutrients and water they need for optimal growth.
Second, you can control the size of your plant, and third, you will have free plants for other areas, or you can pot some cuttings to give to friends and family. I plan to post the Garden Club Spring Plant Sale in April!
These are general tips for separating perennials. First, plan to split on a cold day; Not too hot, not too cold. Prepare the new space before drilling the divider. Use a general fertilizer in the hole and water when transplanting is complete.
There are three ways to separate your plant: Separate it by hand if the part is small or easy to pull; Use a knife/serrated tool or shovel; Or insert two of something, back to back and split. Remove dirt from the roots and check for any problems. For easy handling, you can separate them into quarters. If the quarter is still too large, separate it into smaller groups of 3 to 5 well-rooted leaves. This works well on iris blocks. After separating the iris, cut the leaves to 3 to 5 inches long, and shape them into a point. Also, the best time to separate perennials is during the dormant stage. Or if it blooms in the spring, divide in the fall, before freezing weather, and fall blooms, divide in the spring.
I have procrastinated for a long time to attack my huge collection of Indian paintbrushes, and I will need to shovel deep, so as not to injure the roots, and then I will use a trowel, or a hacksaw, to separate them; Hence my research on how to do it! My propagator, California Fushia, will have an easier time digging out the outlying parts for planting. No need for a saw. I’ve been checking my feverfew and chrysanthemums, which reproduce by rhizomes and seeds. I will need to dig a wider area around the plant and split the crown with a shovel. It is easy to dig up a plant that is growing in the wrong place. Certainly, not as strong as the Indian paintbrush.
Judicial notice. It is recommended not to divide the following perennials: poppies, baby’s breath, euphorbia, columbine, butterfly weed. This is not an exhaustive list, so you will need to research your perennials. On the other hand, there are plenty of perennials that can be divided.
I’ve been writing about outdoor perennials. However, the general guide can be applied to houseplants. I have a Chinese money house plant that overflows the planter! The process of vegetative propagation is much the same. I assembled small containers and potted soil. I cut the rootstock between the baby plant and the mother plant, then carefully pulled the roots and plant out. There are two differences in not watering and not fertilizing for one week. I’ve been at the edge of the water. The soil seemed very dry and I only added a little water. At this time there are 12 new factories.
If vegetative propagation is successful, there will be Chinese money plants, chrysanthemums, Indian paintbrush and many other plants at the April plant auction.
The Red Bluff Garden Club will meet Sept. 26 at First United Methodist Church, 525 David St., Red Bluff. Doors open at 12:30pm and the speaker begins at 1pm
The Red Bluff Garden Club is a member of the Cascade District California Garden Clubs, Inc., the Pacific Region Garden Clubs, Inc., and the National Garden Club.