Why buy new plants when it’s a doddle to divide what you’ve got

Craig Constance-smith


16:31 EST, 25 October 2013



16:31 EST, 25 October 2013

Dividing plants is one of the most satisfying garden jobs – and autumn is the time to do it. As well as saving you money, dividing also helps keep your stock healthy.

It’s important to divide plants that have started to die out in the centre – this often happens with sedums and ornamental grasses. Look out, too, for plants that have grown to two or three times their original diameter and are getting congested.

The first step is to ease the plant gently out of the soil with a garden fork. Shake off the excess soil so you can get a good look at the roots. Your aim is to divide the plant so that each piece has a good root system.

Plants for nothing! Why buy new ones when it's a doddle to divide what you've got

Plants for nothing! Why buy new ones when it’s a doddle to divide what you’ve got

Some plants, such as ajugas (bugle) and primulas, produce individual plantlets which can be pulled off and replanted. Others, like heucheras, hostas and hardy geraniums, need to be carefully pulled apart.

The most challenging plants are fibrous rooted ones such as daylilies, agapanthus and veronicas, where the roots are so matted that you need to cut the plants into sections.

The traditional way is to insert two garden forks into the crown of the plant, back-to-back, and pull them apart to break up the roots.

Don’t be too greedy with your divisions; you want each piece to be a decent size, as a very small plant can take a long time to bulk up. Once divided, replant the sections as soon as possible, either in the ground or in a container, and keep them well watered.

Some plants, like hardy geraniums and primulas, will flop alarmingly for a few days and then suddenly perk up, while others will seem completely unaffected. 

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