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An often-overlooked aspect to gardening

Posted: Tuesday, Oct 2nd, 2012

Ed Close

In the fall or late summer, there is an aspect to gardening that many overlook. This is the time to check perennial flowers and see if they need to be separated. Many will need this to stay healthy and robust. They can crowd themselves out or die out in the center, forming unwanted rings of plants with empty centers.

I just dug up several hostas while moving my garden, and at least three of them need this treatment. Itís actually fairly easy to do without harming or losing plants.

Use a large bucket or Tupperware tub and fill it with water, so itís about half full. Dig up the entire root ball of the clump of plants if at all possible, and immediately drop it in the tub.

Once the roots are submerged, carefully tug the root crowns apart so they are completely separated. Once you have that done, dig the holes in your flowerbeds where youíd like the plants to go and fill these holes at least half way with water. Remember to put one of the plants back in the original hole so it can fill that space again.

Place the separated plants into their new homes, back fill the holes around them with good garden soil and gently press the soil down around them until itís firm and solid. Now, water them so they donít dry out. Keep the new plants damp for the next week or two, until the roots set and they settle into their new homes.

There are very good reasons to take the time to do this with most perennials. New plants can be expensive, and the ones you get doing this are free, except for the labor it takes to separate them and plant them. You may also find that your favorite varieties are no longer available at the nurseries or in your favorite catalog. Nurseries and catalog plant sellers are always looking for the newest thing and they can only stock so many items, so your favorite may be one of the plants they take out of their inventories to be replaced by something new.

I have separated Hosta, Shasta daisy, day lilies, sedum and a large number of other perennials in this way. That bald spot in the flowerbed by the fence or back porch can be filled in short order, and at little expense using this method.

Happy gardening. I hope this works out well for you.

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