Dividing Perennials in Spring

Perennials are commonly divided for three reasons: to control size, to rejuvenate plants, and to propagate a prized perennial.  Vigorous perennials may grow so rapidly that they crowd out neighboring plants in the flower bed.  Other perennials decline in vigor if not divided at the appropriate time.  One of the easiest ways to propagate a prized perennial is to divide the plant into two or more smaller plants. 
 
The best time to divide perennials varies with the different plant species.  Early spring (just as new growth begins to appear) is the best time to divide aster, chrysanthemum, hosta, bee balm, sedum, yarrow, obedient plant, perennial salvia, purple coneflower, and ornamental grasses.  Other perennials that can be divided in spring include coreopsis, daylily, garden phlox, speedwell, and hardy zinnia. 
 
In early spring, dig up the perennials just as new growth begins to appear.  Divide each plant clump into sections with a sharp knife.  Each division should contain several shoots and a portion of the root system.  Replant the divisions immediately.  Keep the newly divided perennials well-watered through spring and summer.  Most newly divided perennials do not bloom well until their second growing season.

Category: 
Tags: 
Authors: 

Richard Jauron Extension Program Specialist II

Provide horticultural information to home gardeners and extension staff via the telephone, written communication (Horticulture and Home Pest News, Yard and Garden,  and extension publications), radio, computer (Internet and e-mail), and live presentations.   Also assist with the Master ...

Links to this article are strongly encouraged, and this article may be republished without further permission if published as written and if credit is given to the author, Horticulture and Home Pest News, and Iowa State University Extension and Outreach. If this article is to be used in any other manner, permission from the author is required. This article was originally published on March 25, 2016. The information contained within may not be the most current and accurate depending on when it is accessed.