Easy Perennial Division for Free Plants
Today I am sharing one of my best gardening secrets, easy perennial division for free plants. Which you can either add to you garden or share with friends.
Let’s face it gardening can be very expensive if you are a new home owner, or maybe you have just move to area and are not quite sure what grows well in your region. Free plants, should sound very enticing after a couple of $200 receipts from your local garden center and not a whole lot to show for it. Today I am sharing one of my greatest gardening secrets, of easy perennial division for free plants.
First of all you have to do the work, by either buying the plants up front or arrange a plant swap in your neighborhood. I am so lucky to have moved into a great neighborhood 7 years ago, and to have met neighbors like; Lynn Ken, and Clay who were willing to share their 15 year old plants with me and my new home as a welcome to the neighborhood gifts simply by this dividing method. (Lynn gifted me these beautiful Cannas seen below, and Ken the family mums from Ohio above.)
All of these amazing plants were free to me as they were dividing theirs, which had grown very big over the years. Since they were already tried and true to this mountainous regions soil, they knew that they would grow and serve me well into the future of my home. Now I am able to pay it forward to my neighbors and continue that tradition.
Even these beautiful purple bearded Iris below are an example of free bulbs, which are a type of perennial. I actually brought these with me from my previous home. I have had these for years and they originally belonged to my brother-in-law’s mother, a master gardener herself. So they are very dear to me for sentimental reasons.
Gardener Tips- There are many exchange groups online where you can harvest a share varieties for free among other collectors.
As I mentioned before if a plant already grows well in a soil in the local area that is a good sign, no need to reinvent that wheel, the work is already done for you. When you shop at a big box store while they have many pretty things, not all of the plants were grown in your region nor will they do well in your specific soil, even if you amend it. So this is where I can say take the cheat, while it is great to be different and unique, their is probably a reason why everyone up and down your street has similar things growing very well in their yard, right? I did take a chance with these yellow hot pokers but they have done great with red giant cannas which where frees from Lynn, and yellow yarrow which I plan on dividing next year.
Perennial Plants for Division:
- Daylilies- Stella D’oro
- Bee Balm
- Black Eyed Susan (aka Rudbeckia)
- Yarrow (aka Achillea)
When is the best time to do the perennial division? Honestly the best time is in the spring, however in my experience division can be done when perennial pant is just starting to regrow for the season. So whenever that it is for your particular growing region.For example, my Stella D’Oro daylilies (from Clay) start to come up in March but do not bloom until May/June. I have divided them, simply by running a shovel directly threw the middle of the plants in March as they are just starting to grow. It is really just that simple, and you can not even tell I split them off the original by the middle of the season, and while the new plants are smaller they will have doubled in size by the following year. Just a few plants created this entire border row and they were all free and come back every year. You can seperate them during the growing season, however the only thing about doing it during the hot months in Georgia is you have to keep them watered very well until the roots are established. They also have a tendency to not look great the first year since they are mid growing season, but they will come back the next year just fine. Same is true with Hosta, which is a shade plant, so if divided too late in the season they will look droopy, but they following year they will be beautiful. As you can see my hosta below I created this entire planter border from a single set of plants that had grown in my backyard hillside, simply by dividing and replanting here. So these were all free plants, just by digging up the parent plant and cutting into to smaller sections and replanting. Black Eyed Susans also very prolific and can also be divided and they will reseed in the fall if you leave the heads intact to drop seeds to the ground. This can allow the plant to expand into large masses if you like creating large color blocks in your garden each year.
This is also true with Bee Balm as well, since these plants can rapid spread in your garden it is very easy to harvested and moved them into other locations as they emerge the next spring as well. Again you can divide this plant at anytime time during the growing season and move to other areas of your yard, or re pot as a gift for a neighbor.
This is how the nurseries harvest and sell a lot of native plants they all either come from seed or division. Just remember when purchasing plants to get ones that say perennial on the tag and ask around to local gardeners about what will grow well in your specific areas. I personal love the Georgia Growers Guide, it has been a great source for me for 30+ years. I still have tabs and notes in all the margins of my book.
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