How to Divide Perennials

How to Divide Perennials

Discover the art of dividing perennials so you can enjoy their beauty for years to come.


Whether you’re a novice gardener or were born with a green thumb, a short refresher course on the basics of perennials gets you ready for the upcoming months. Learning the basics with this step-by-step guide will help you keep your perennials coming back so you can look forward to them every season.

Why Divide Perennials?
Multiple growing seasons cause perennials to flower less often, become weak or run out of growing room, which causes them to take over neighboring plants. Dividing helps them remain healthy and blooming, plus it yields more plants.

When to Divide Perennials
Perennials can be divided at any point during their growing cycle, but warning signs to watch for include:

  • Reduced flowering and smaller leaves
  • Outer edges of the plant are healthier than the center
  • Center stalks of the plant are weak or dead
  • The plant has run out of room to spread

Tip : Try to divide when plants are still healthy but not too large — typically in early spring when new growth is low to the ground, or in early fall when the sun is less harsh.

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How to Divide Perennials

  1. With a shovel or trowel, begin digging a trench around the plant at the drip line (the circular area around plants, made by water dripping off outer leaves).
  2. Dig through the soil at an angle, working your way around the drip line at various points to loosen the plant and its roots.
  3. Pull the plant out of the hole, and separate it into sections that are a quarter of the size of the original plant. Keep each section’s roots as intact as possible.
  4. Add new soil or compost where the perennial was uprooted to replenish the area for new growth.
  5. Spread out and replant the healthy sections. When replanting, place the sections into holes that are as wide as the spread-out roots.
  6. Treat divided plants like new seedlings — water regularly to keep the soil moist.

Tip : While prepping the replanting spot, keep the divided sections moist and shaded with damp newspaper.

With a little care and some upkeep, perennials can come back indefinitely, providing your home and garden with color you can look forward to every year.

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