It’s August, and there's not a lot to be done in the garden during this grueling heat. Right now, it’s a chore to help our struggling plants survive. Try to stay on top of watering and do your best to keep pests and weeds in check.

One thing you can do this month, besides getting fall vegetable garden seeds started or planning big landscape installations for the fall, is to dig up and divide perennial flowering plants such as daylilies and irises as well as ornamental grasses.

Overall, perennials are best divided in the very early spring when they are just breaking dormancy or in the late summer after they have stopped flowering and begin looking a bit ragged. You should avoid disturbing perennials when they are forming flower buds or are in bloom.

Dividing and replanting during the late summer and early fall allow plants to establish a good root system before going into dormancy during cooler winter months.

If you notice a decrease in the number of flowers and an overall decline in plant health, it’s probably time to divide these plants.

Dividing them will decrease competition for nutrients and water, allowing your plants to thrive once again.

The best time to accomplish this task is first thing in the morning or in late evening when the temperatures have cooled slightly.

When dividing plants, use a spade or shovel to carefully lift the clump of plants from out of the ground. Be careful and try to prevent as little damage to roots as possible.

When you’ve got a good clump out of the ground, use a garden knife or spade to cut clumps into smaller pieces for transplanting.

Transplant to a new container or to another part of the yard or share them with friends or family.

Once planted, be sure to water plants well to avoid added stress. Continue to watch plants over the next few weeks to ensure adequate water as they establish new root systems.


Email questions to gardennews@agcenter.lsu.edu.