Now is a great time to divide hardy perennials before we get too far into the spring growing season.
Because division can be fairly tough on plants, it’s best done 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.
Do not divide those few perennials that are in active growth over the winter and spring, such as Louisiana irises, calla lilies, acanthus, lycoris (red and yellow spider lilies), Easter lilies and spring-flowering bulbs. Divide them in late spring or summer as they go dormant or are dormant.
When it comes time to divide a clump, 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.
Common reasons for division are to propagate or create new plants, to control the amount of space a plant takes up and 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.
The LSU AgCenter Botanic Gardens at Burden will present the sixth annual Brush With Burden art exhibition on March 13-20. This event celebrates Louisiana’s talented artists and their depictions of the state’s cultural and natural resources, says Jeff Kuehny, director of the LSU AgCenter Botanic Gardens at Burden.
The exhibition will kick off with a free reception from 4-6 p.m. on March 12 and continue in the Steele Burden Memorial Orangerie and the Ione Burden Conference Center from 1-4 p.m. Sundays and 10 a.m.-4 p.m. other days March 13-20.
Got a gardening question? Write to GardenNews@agcenter.lsu.edu.