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Dividing Perennials

A landscape filled with mature, vigorous plants. It's what gardeners look forward to when they select perennials! But while healthy three- and four-year old perennials are the pride of any plant enthusiast, just one season can make the difference between a thriving, well-established bed or border and an overcrowded, lackluster one.

Proven Winners has both perennials and "tender perennials." Tender perennial means that depending on where you live, that plant will perform year after year. Dividing your favorite Proven Winners plants and flowers is an easy way to help them maintain their youthful vigor and beauty once they've achieved veteran status in your garden.

Which Season to Divide?

Many gardeners wait too long to divide their perennials because they aren't sure if it's the right time of the year. Early spring and fall are the best seasons generally. Don't divide a plant that is in flower or is almost ready to flower. Instead, divide after flowering has stopped. So resist the urge to disrupt those spring performers that are filling your garden with blooms right now. They'll be fine until fall. Instead, focus some pre-season attention on perennials like those from our Fall Magic collection and those varieties that bloom from summer to fall. Most ornamental grasses also need to be divided in the spring.

Which Plants to Divide?

Does the aster or ajania that has brightened your flowering border for the past two seasons need to be divided? Take your cue from the plant itself:
•    Does the plant look crowded?
•    Does the center of the perennial seem woody or dry?
•    Were flowers smaller or less prolific this past season?

If the answers to these questions are yes, it's probably a good idea to divide.

How to Divide?

Carefully dig around the primary root ball of the plant to remove it in its entirety. Work quickly and out of the direct sunlight to protect exposed roots and minimize stress on the plant. Depending on the variety, the plant may naturally separate into clumps or you might need to use a knife or spade to cut the plant into divided sections. In either case, be sure to remove all unhealthy parts of the plant-especially those woody centers.

Tough Love

Don't worry about being too hard on a plant that's made itself comfortably at home in your perennial bed. As long as each division has several good roots and some healthy foliage, the plant should take well to division. While the plant is out of the bed, take the opportunity to amend the soil. Replant one of the divisions where the larger plant used to be. Water the divided plant well over the next few days. As the roots begin to establish themselves, the plant will perk up.

More Plants; More Friends

Dividing perennials rewards you with healthier, more vigorous performance from you favorite varieties. It also leaves you with more of your favorite plants to share or add to other parts of your garden. But be forewarned! Once friends and neighbors hear that you're dividing Proven Winners plants, you may become the most popular gardener around.

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