The Great Divide: preparing perennials

Don't leave off dividing perennials until early spring, when the plants are still dormant or in bud. Fall is the perfect season to take on this task!

Credit: Terry Guscott

dividing perennials in the fall

Not only will you have fewer garden chores to tackle in the fall, but by doing divisions at this time of year, you’ll give the plants plenty of time to acclimatize themselves to their new homes. Even though top-growth has ceased for the plants, their roots are still actively growing throughout the cool temperatures of winter.

Many perennials are amenable to division in the fall. If you are new to this, stick with the hardiest and heartiest types of plants, such as hosta, alchemilla and pulmonaria. The dividing process can be quite shocking to roots and crowns, and more tender types of perennials will not appreciate the disturbance before the cold season. These are best left until spring.

A sweater, a shovel and a little brute force are all you need to divide your perennials this fall.

It is easy to divide plants using a shovel. Remove these divisions and transplant to other locations.