Now is the time of year to make the adjustments. If a plant is now too large for its site, it may be time for a "root division." Much less painless than a root canal, but just as important.
This is where the plant gives you a dividend, not unlike a two for one or three for one stock split. This is the truly inexpensive way to populate your garden with your favorites.
Here are some of my general observations about dividing:
Generally, perennials won't need dividing for three or four years following introduction to your garden.
The candidates for division include both "clumpers" and "ringers." Some plants just get bigger and bigger in size. These are your basic "clumpers." Others seem to expand from the center out.
In a few years, you have a dead or ugly center and the young vital parts are in a circle around the center. Asters, astilbes and chrysanthemums are three examples. For obvious reasons, I call these "ringers."
You can lift and divide "clumpers" as you would cut up a pie. Just cut out a section or two (including at least three vig- orous shoots in each piece).
"Ringers", on the other hand, require you to cut and lift the new, vigorous growth at the perimeter, leaving the center to toss. Don't bother to compost these tough centers because they take forever to break down. Don't be nervous about this. Dividing is actually good for the plants. It revitalizes them and extends their lives.
A final warning: Don't divide on warm dry days. The ideal is a day that is cloudy and cool with rain in the forecast.
David Soper, The Garden Guy, writes and lectures on gardening topics. Read more on his website, Adventures in Gardening, www.gardenguy.com
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