Best way to divide perennials

Photo Courtesy University of Minnesota A photo of daylilies.

It is time to divide and conquer in the garden. We often think that springtime is the only time to divide plants. In reality, there are some plants that will do better for you if they are divided now.

A good rule of thumb is if the plant is flowering in the spring or summer, now is the time to dig it up and divide it. If the plant flowers in the fall time, then spring time is the best time to dig it up and divide it.

Plants that particularly do better being divided now are Peony plants, iris plants, poppy plants, and many other flowering plants. You just need to take a pencil and paper around the garden and decide which plants seem to be overgrown and decide which ones you would like to dig up and split. This is the time when you can share those extra plants with family and friends or start a new garden.

So what is the best way to divide perennials?

Dig up the parent plant using a spade or fork. Gently lift the plant out of the ground and remove any loose dirt around the roots. Separate the plant into smaller divisions by any of these methods: Gently pull or tease the roots apart with your hands; Cut them with a sharp knife or spade; or put two forks in the center of the clump, back to back, and pull the forks apart.

Each division should have three to five vigorous shoots and a healthy supply of roots. Keep these divisions shaded and moist until they are replanted. Divide hosta in spring before they get too large. When to divide: Divide when the plant is not flowering so it can focus all of its energy on regenerating root and leaf tissue.

And finally, Emerald Ash Borer is on the move-again! Emerald ash borer (EAB) has been confirmed in Steele County for the first time in the city of Medford.

Several dying ash trees were discovered by a tree care professional who contacted MDA. MDA was able to find live EAB, which were confirmed by the USDA.

Steele County is the 20th county in Minnesota known to be infested with EAB. This invasive beetle was first found in Minnesota in 2009. Since EAB was first found in North America in 2002, it has spread to 35 states and five Canadian provinces. It has killed hundreds of millions of ash trees and has cost hundreds of millions of dollars. Minnesota has nearly one billion ash trees in the state, one of the largest in the country.

Minnesotans can help prevent the spread of EAB with these three easy steps: Don’t transport firewood. Buy firewood locally from approved vendors, and burn it where you buy it; be aware of quarantine restrictions.

If you live in a quarantined county, be aware of the restrictions on movement of products such as ash trees, wood chips, and firewood; and, Watch your ash trees for infestation.

If you think your ash tree is infested, go to www.mda.state.mn.us/eab and use the “Does My Tree Have Emerald Ash Borer?” guide. Suspect infestations can be reported to MDA’s Arrest the Pest line at 1-888-545-6684 or  arrest.the.pest@state.mn.us.

For more information on gardening or how to become a Master Gardener, please contact me at s.dejaeghere@me.com

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