The days are getting shorter and the nights cooler. Fall’s inevitable arrival seems a little sooner than we might like. But there’ s a lemons and lemonade adage that I believe is suitable for this situation. Looking into my garden right now it’s easy to see what is competing for space and may need to be separated for next year. Though this week is a little hotter than of late I expect that by mid September it should be time to again divide up some established plants.

Doing it properly is paramount!

Cut the plants back so you can see what you are doing, this process will double as your fall pruning. Dig a narrow trench around the plant at its drip line. (Check our diagram regarding the drip line) If the plant is large and you are only dividing a plant and not moving it entirely you only need to dig out the side you will be severing. Slice down the centre of your clump with a sharp shovel or separate with your hands in the case of a smaller plant. Have your new location dug and ready. It’s said with proper care a root can live up to several weeks but frankly I rarely have the storage space or patience. By having your hole ready to go you reduce root stress and that’s the name of the game. Ensure not to make the new divisions too large, they should not represent more than 30% of the original pant or you will just need to move them again next fall. This website has a great breakdown specifying different separation methods for individual roots types; check page 5! Keep only the healthiest divisions, looking for disease or breakdown in the root systems. Place a division into a hole that is at least as wide as its roots when spread out. You can’t go squishing a big root into a small hole as it will stunt the plant from the word go!

Once everything thing is moved into its new location add a little love in the form of organic compost. By keeping up the soil integrity you are setting the new plant up for success and helping the remaining plant recover.

Now go forth into your garden, prepared to divide an conquer!!!

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