In many parts of the country, perennials are just beginning to show their green, leafy heads. Lilies; herbs like thyme and sage; daisies; lambs ears, snow in summer or dusty miller (that fuzzy green/gray fill-in stuff); iris…even rosebushes are just starting to grow. Now is the perfect time to divide them, and get double the plants for this growing season!
Divide And Conquer
It’s not difficult. Get a good sharp-edged trowel or shovel ready, along with a bucket or pan to put your plants in. (A pocketknife can also help.) Dig around the edge of the clump you plan to divide until it’s loosened and can be lifted out of the ground.
Find the center of the plant, then use your sharp edge to make a quick, clean cut. (Banging the plant a little, if it has a clump of roots, like iris or daylilies, also encourages the roots to separate.) Pull or cut the plant apart into 2-4 sections; plant one back in the original hole. (Add a little fertilizer or compost. Soothing words also help.) Your ‘new’ plants are now ready for their new home. (Warning note: it’s said that iris will not bloom that season if you disturb their roots early. I’ve done it – and seen plenty of iris. But if you’re not sure, wait to separate them until after they’re done flowering. Better yet, try it both ways, and see what you prefer.)
Bulb plants, like daffodils, tulips, hyacinths (especially grape hyacinths) have often produced additional bulbs — they can be dug up and separated after the plants have bloomed. (Make a note on the calendar about June 1.) Add a little bonemeal and fertilizer in the planting hole to give them a boost.
Another way to ‘make more:’ take cuttings of your favorite plants. Roses, lavender and other woody-stemmed plants do well with this method. Take a clean twig with at least one set of leaves on it, dip in rooting hormone powder, then gently push into a pot of soil or sand. Pull a plastic bag over, to keep the cutting moist. Check occasionally and water as needed. Some cuttings won’t root. (I’ve had about 33% success.) But the ones that do will start putting out new growth. Set them out (with fertilizer, naturally) past frost, when the ground is warm.
Some plants, like geraniums and petunias, will root if you place the cuttings in a jar of water. In a few weeks, when the roots form, plant them in an enriched mixture of potting soil and fertilizer. Put out after the frost date. (I’ve literally filled a long stone planter this way, beginning with a hanging planter of geraniums a friend was going to throw out.)
Then sit back and enjoy your newly-expanded garden.
Cindy Brick is a personal property appraiser, judge and national teacher who loves to write about frugality and other personal finance topics. She has written six books and hundreds of articles, but often focuses on quilting, her teaching specialty. She lives in Colorado with her husband, two golden labs and a flock of very suspicious chickens. Find out more at Brickworks, http://www.cindybrick.com, or visit her personal blog: http://www.cindybrick.blogspot.com