Garden news: Dividing time for perennials

Photo by DAN GILL  A sharp knife is all thats needed to divide some perennials, such as this liriope. Show caption
Photo by DAN GILL A sharp knife is all thats needed to divide some perennials, such as this liriope.

Now is a great time to divide hardy perennials in your landscape. This is best done before we get too far into the spring growing season.

Because division can be fairly tough on plants, do it when the weather is cool and moist — like in the next few weeks, says LSU AgCenter horticulturist Dan Gill.

Dividing plants during late winter or early spring also allows the divisions some time to recover and re-establish before the intense heat of summer arrives around May or June.

Most perennials are dormant this time of year. Dormant perennials without foliage, evergreen perennials with foliage and those just waking up all may be divided now. These can include monkey grass, liriope, daylilies, ferns, yarrow, black-eyed Susans, Shasta daisies and many others.

You may also divide tropicals that grow from rhizomes or bulbs now through April, Gill says.

As you divide them, trim off any cold-damaged foliage if you have not already done so. This includes plants such as the many different types of gingers, canna, elephant ear and bird of paradise.

To divide a clump, first dig it up carefully. Perennials that grow into a clump of individual crowns or bulbs often can be pulled apart by hand.

The other technique is to decide how many divisions to make out of the clump and then use a large, sturdy knife to cut the clump into sections.

You may want to divide plants to propagate or create new plants, to control the amount of space a plant takes up or to reinvigorate them when they become crowded over time. Dividing plants in that situation will reduce the crowding and encourage more vigorous growth and flowering.

Upcoming events

The Hammond Spring Garden Day will be held from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. March 8 at the LSU AgCenter’s Hammond Research Station, 21549 Old Covington Highway (La. Highway 1067 just off U.S. Highway 190).

The program will feature plants for sale, a plant swap, educational gardening seminars and children’s activities, along with commercial and educational exhibits, commercial vendors and concessions.

Admission is $5 per vehicle. Only cash and checks will be accepted at the gate and at all vendors.

Got a gardening question? Write to GardenNews@agcenter.lsu.edu.