August, like a cherished, faded bloom, is being tucked away and pressed between the pages of an unwieldy book to be preserved and remembered as a sweet and affable time.  Summer is dwindling and grows weary and worn, her youthful looks strained and antiquated.

But despair not.  In addition to deadheading and pruning, both effective methods in developing healthier plants with more blooms and better shape and structure, dividing perennials is yet another helpful practice.  It helps rejuvenate and stimulate the plant while controlling the size and increasing the amount of plants.

Timing is important, and the general rule of thumb is to divide Spring and Summer blooming perennials in the Fall, and Fall blooming perennials in the Spring.  The idea is to divide when plants are not blooming.  This is because the plant’s energy is being focused on regenerating root and leaf tissue, which makes for the perfect time to divide and plant.

First, choose a day that’s a bit overcast and cool as sunny, warm days can make plants dry out faster.  If the weather has been warm and dry, water the plants the day before you intend on dividing them.  Next, begin digging at the drip line to help mitigate root damage.  Dig out the plant and gently remove any loose dirt.  Then divide the plant by easing the roots apart or cutting with a knife or spade.  Each new plant should have 3-5 vigorous shoots and a healthy supply of roots.  Lastly, be sure to keep the newly divided plants shaded and moist until they are planted.

Dividing perennials not only helps the health, vigor and beauty of the plant, it’s also a cost-effective way to add more plants to your landscape.  Consider sharing with your friends and neighbors.  It’s a great way to diversify and connect with your community.  As always, reach out to Sweeney’s!  We’d be thrilled to help you divide and conquer, or simply guide you through the process.

Plant of the Week

Photos courtesy of Midwest Groundcovers

Toad Lily

Sprays of dainty white orchid-like flowers blushed in pink bloom August – October amongst dark green foliage.  Prefers shade to partial sun and moist, well-drained soil.  Grows 24-36″ tall and 12-18″ wide.  Attracts hummingbirds and is deer resistant.  Excellent addition to shaded, woody areas.

“Whilst August yet wears her golden crown,

Ripening fields lush-bright with promise;

Summer waxes long, then wanes, quietly passing

Her fading green glory on to riotous Autumn.”

-Michelle L. Thieme

Best wishes,

Kim Sweeney