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  • Writer's pictureLu Blue

"Maximizing Garden Space: The Benefits of Dividing Perennials"

Hellebore rootball divided into extra plants
Divide Hellebores with sharp knife

Why divide perennials?

Dividing perennial plants is crucial for maintaining their health and promoting new growth. Overgrown foliage can attract disease, and crowded plants may deplete soil fertility. Signs like dead centres and decreased flowering indicate the need for division ready for transplanting and making lots of free plants.

So this practice not only rejuvenates plants but also provides free plants to your garden!

When to divide

Dividing perennials is an essential task to maintain their health and vigor, typically recommended every 3 to 5 years. Spring is often regarded as the optimal time for dividing, as plants emerge from dormancy, minimizing the risk of irreparable damage. However, some experts suggest that specific plants, like Oriental Poppy, Peony, and Siberian Iris, respond better to dividing later in the growing season, preferably Autumn/Early Winter. Nonetheless, if spring is the only feasible time for division, its absolutely fine for most perennials.

For early spring bloomers, dividing should occur after their blooming period. This timing allows plants ample time to establish new roots throughout the growing season, ensuring robust growth and bud formation for the following spring. Conversely, for perennials that bloom in summer or autumn, dividing in spring still offers ample opportunity for root establishment, bud formation, and flowering during the same growing season. By understanding the specific needs and timing preferences of different perennial species, gardeners can optimize the success of their dividing practices, fostering healthy and vibrant garden beds year after year.


Just make sure you keep them well watered if dividing in Spring particularly. In autumn, plants can take advantage of the warm, damp soil, to get their roots established, ready to grow away strongly the following year.

Newly divided plants potted up individually
Individual potted plants

How to divide perennials

1. Dig around the mature clump, lift, and eliminate any excess soil from the root ball.

2. Select the active healthy growth zones for replanting or sharing.

3. Divide larger clumps into smaller segments using a knife or sharp spade; some may separate effortlessly with your hands.

Prepare the planting site by incorporating compost or aged manure, invest the time in ground preparation for enhancing the planting area with compost and soil improvers.

Perennials can be re located and/or planted into the same spot.

Immediately replant new divisions; pot them up; or heal them in until planting to prevent root dehydration. Give them a good water regardless of ground conditions.


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