NOVEMBER / DECEMBER 2002
Texas Cooperative Extension, Texas A&M University, College Station, Texas
Dividing Your Perennials in Winter
By Cynthia Mueller
n order to increase your stock of clumping perennials, divide spring and summer bloomers during the fall and winter. ( Those which are fall bloomers can be divided in the spring, or season opposite to bloom time).
Louisiana phlox and
Phlox pilosa, seen here in the
garden of Dr. Bill Welch,
may be divided now
Passing favorite plants along to friends or trading for a prized plant are a favorite part of perennial gardening. Most perennials left in the ground in the same place for more than 3 years are likely to become overgrown and overcrowded. They may have dead, unsightly centers and need basic feeding and soil amendments. Flowers tend to be sparse and growth is poor. The clump depletes the soil fertility as the plant crowds itself.
To divide mature clumps of perennials, select only vigorous side shoots from the outer part of the clump. Discard the center of the clump. Section the plant into clumps of 3 to 5 shoots each. Be careful not to over-divide; if a clump is too small, it does not give much color the first year after replanting.
Verbena may be divided now
Separate fall perennials in time for them to become established before the ground freezes, or divide when the plants are dormant just before a new growth season. Stagger plant divisions so that the whole flower bed will not be redone at the same time; good rotation yields a display of flowers each year. Do not put all of the divisions back into the same space that contained the original plant; this places too many plants in a given area. Mulch carefully in order to give the newly separated plants more protection against drying winds and/or cold. Do not apply so much mulch over the crowns that rotting is encouraged, or newly emerging shoots in the spring stretch upwards to reach the sunlight.
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