Divide and Conquer

As I sit here and write this article I wonder where the summer went and where 2015 is disappearing too. It's now September and even though the temperatures in the first week have been in the 90s, September means cooler weather making it easier and more desirable to spend time in the garden. I know that it's something I'm excited about – my garden is completely out of control and needs to be reined back in.

Maybe you're going to take advantage of adding some new plants or divide plants already in your garden this month. Now is a great time to divide perennials including:

  • Basket of Gold
  • Coral Bells
  • Coreopsis
  • Daylily
  • Hardy Geranium
  • Hosta
  • Peony (usually they can go for many years before needing to be divided)
  • Phlox
  • Speedwell/Veronica

But before you jump up and begin digging up your perennials to divide them and find new places to put them, think about "Right Plant, Right Place." The idea is that you make sure to choose the best location for your plants: light exposure, soil conditions, etc. Making sure to select the proper site for your plants can help reduce plant stress and potential disease or insect issues. This applies to any plant from annuals to perennials, trees, shrubs, herbs, vegetables, etc.

For example, Zinnia, a common annual flowering favorite, prefer full sun locations (8 hours or more of sun per day) but place them in an area where they get only 3-4 hours a day they are more likely to suffer from problems such as Botrytis Blight due to poor air circulation and moisture sitting on the plants and not drying off fast enough. So always make sure to evaluate planting sites first before planting.

If you are ready to dig and divide check to see if the ground is dry, if so make sure to water the area you'll be digging well a few days before hand. When ready to divide, dig up the entire clump then gently separate the clump in to smaller plants using your fingers or a sharp knife making sure to choose the healthiest divisions to replant. For large clumps such as daylilies you can use two spading forks to separate by placing them in the center of the clump back to back and then pulling the opposite direction to break the clump apart. Place one or two healthy divisions in each planting hole. Water well and mulch and make sure to keep the soil moist and don't allow the divisions to dry out but be mindful to not flood them with water.