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Dividing Perennials In The Fall – How To Landscape Beautifully For Free!

When it comes to landscaping on a budget, nothing can save more hard-earned cash than dividing perennials! And fall is the perfect time to do it!

Fall transplanting allows new plants time to become established in the soil before going completely dormant for winter. When spring arrives, new plants are settled in and ready to grow!

dividing perennials
This is one of our favorite transplants at the farm – coming from a start from my mom’s house.

Dividing perennials is simple, easy, and an absolutely free way to create hundreds of new plants for your landscape.

Beyond creating new plants, dividing is the perfect way to keep plants healthy and under control.

Perennials that have occupied the same space for too many years can begin to fail. Their root structures starts to become overcrowded. As this happens, the roots have a more difficult time finding enough nutrients in the soil to feed the plant above.

The result? Perennials that bloom less or not at all.

Dividing Perennials – Creating A Landscape For Free

When we first cleared off the land for the farm some 8 years ago, we had a small problem.

dividing perennials
This Sedum plant came from a start from our old house before moving to the farm.

On one hand, we had big ideas for flowerbeds everywhere. We wanted beds loaded with a mix of perennials filled with color, texture and beauty. On the other hand, we had quite the small budget to do it with. And by small, I mean near zero!

At that point, there wasn’t a plant to be found on the 3 acre property.

8 years later, there are now some 20+ flower beds overflowing with roughly 1300+ plants. And best of all, nearly all of the plants that now fill our beds came at zero cost. All through the power of dividing perennials!

Dividing Perennials

Today, the farm is filled with nearly 45 species of perennial plants. Coneflowers, daylillies, shasta daisies, lirope, black-eyed susans, coral bells, peonies, sedum and a host of other perennials help to provide color and texture to what was once a wide open field of overgrown grass.

And with the exception of ornamental grasses, which need to be divided in early spring (see : Ornamental Grass Care), all were created from transplants each fall.

Some came from our old house, while others came from starts from friends, family, and even visitors to the farm. When we had space ready, we planted our transplants immediately. When we weren’t quite ready, we simply planted transplants into a holding bed in the garden.

We still use that technique today. It is a great way to have ready-to-go transplants for newly created flowerbeds for spring, summer or fall.

Here are a few big keys to dividing perennials in the fall.

Keys To Dividing Perennials

Always use a sharp spade, being sure to dig up the entire plant. Start a few inches outside of the base of plants to ensure you remove the entire root ball.

dividing perennials
Dividing from the back side of plants makes it easier to divide equally.

Once you have removed the plant from the original space, flip the plant over. This allows you to see the entire root structure before splitting. Use your spade or a sharp knife to then slice through the roots to create even sections of new plants.

This is where our Hori-Hori knife is amazing. It can slice or cut through the toughest of perennials roots with ease.  Product Link : Hori Hori Horticultural Knife

By cutting the roots in like-size sections, new plants will grow to about the same size as they mature. This is great for keeping flowerbeds looking uniform and well-groomed.

Don’t wait around days to plant. The quicker a divided perennial is planted, the better chance it has to settle in and establish a few roots before winter.

Don’t worry if the new transplants foliage drops off or dies back in the fall. Most are completely finished growing by fall, and are simply heading into dormancy. By getting these plants split and in the ground in the fall, it allows the roots to be ready to grow strong the following spring.

Happy Gardening! Jim and Mary. To receive our 3 Home, Garden, Recipe and Simple Life articles each week, sign up below for our free email list. You can also follow us on FacebookTwitter, Pinterest, or Instagram. This article may contain affiliate links.