By Bud Arnold
Horticulturist / Garden Center Manager, Schalow’s Nursery
Even though the temperature outside is dropping, there is no need to replace your gardening shovel with your snow shovel just yet. Fall is a great time to split perennials to improve their health. Most perennials respond quite well to splitting at least every three years. Splitting perennials is not difficult, but it does take a little time.
The first step is knowing when to split. A great rule of thumb is when your plant looks the best it has ever looked, divide it that fall. A healthy parent plant is going to yield healthy babies. Other clues that it is time to split include when the center of the perennial is producing smaller leaves or if the middle of the plant dies out.
Now that you know when to split, the next step is learning how. The tools you will need include a sharp shovel, gloves, hand pruner, trowel or knife, and water for soaking the plants when finished. Now it is time to get down and dirty.
- Use your shovel to dig at the drip line or outer edge of the leaves. Cut back the foliage of the plant so you can work with it more easily. Dig a trench around the entire plant, severing all the roots cleanly. Then dig under the plant at an angle, and pry the clump out of the ground. With larger, heavier plants, you may want to slice the whole plant in half or quarters before popping it out of the ground.
- Once you have the plant removed from the ground you can begin splitting. Usually your hands work the best, but you may need to use a trowel or knife to divide large plants into approximately four or five sections called plugs. You are inevitably going to get more plugs than you need. Plant the plugs you want back into your landscape and the rest make great gifts to give to friends and neighbors.
Now that you have your perennials dug, divided, and divvied up, water them in, and let them do the rest of the work. At least for the next three years.
For more information on Schalow’s services or for landscaping-related questions, call 715-591-3478 or visit http://www.schalows.com/.