Divide And Conquer With Cheap Plant Propagation

By Bonnie Grant | October 7, 2020
by Bonnie Grant
October 7, 2020

My first garden wasn’t really mine. I mean, it was on my property, but most of the plants came from another gardener’s garden. I could barely afford the mortgage so plant shopping was out of the question. That is when I became fixated on plant division. As soon as I heard about the practice, I knew it was for me.

Cheap Plant Propagation – Divide and Conquer

When I’m dividing garden plants it’s like Christmas. Through just a bit of labor, I can get a whole new plant. As a bonus, the original parent plant usually does better. As a new gardener, I was the recipient of numerous divisions from my mother and mother-in-law. Both were prolific gardeners and it was probably time to do some dividing, plus they had a kid with a new house. I even got a few things from my grandma and made friends with neighbors, whose plants I admired. Not ashamed to grovel for a plant division, I did just that when I took my daily walk and spied a plant I wanted. Over time, my garden was filled with delicious specimens that I could not have afforded from a nursery.

When is a Good Time for Dividing Garden Plants?

There is no best time to divide plants, in my opinion. Most garden plants seem to prefer to be divided in spring. That gives the new division time to establish in the soil. However, I’ve never been shy about dividing garden plants in late summer or fall either. If they are mulched and watered in well, I’ve never had a problem. I suppose if you have a tender specimen that is barely hanging in there in your zone, the best time to divide would be spring. That way the plant isn’t disturbed and traumatized before cold weather sets in.

Indoor plant division should be done in spring for the best results, although I got a piece of grandma’s Trandescantia in winter and it did great. Err on the side of caution when dividing plants and do it when the division has time to establish and won’t suffer any extreme weather.

You know it is time for plant division when your plant fails to bloom much or the center starts to die out. You can often get three or more divisions off mature, established plants. For the best chance of success, dig up the parent plant carefully to preserve as many roots as possible. Use clean, sharp cutting implements. I have a soil saw that I use specifically for this purpose and I clean it after every use, so I don’t spread disease.

When you cut into the plant, make sure there is a good section of roots or tubers or whatever the plant grows from. Ensuring this will help the plant establish quickly. You should also have a good amount of foliage attached to the clump. Foliage will drive photosynthesis which feeds the plant.

Choosing Plants for Division

What can you divide? Some of the easiest plant division are:

Really, most blooming perennials and those that stem from bulbs, corms, or tubers can be divided. If you ever planted a few daffodil bulbs and found that over the years those few became an army, you know what I mean. As bulbs and other underground storage structures mature, they naturalize, meaning they produce more. So, if an area is inundated by daffodils or any other perennial plant, separate some out and populate another area or give the divisions away.

Dividing plants is a great way to perpetuate a favorite specimen and to give away the delights of your garden to friends and neighbors.

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  • Amy Hildreth
    Comment added October 26, 2020Reply

    I thought this was a fab article for us beginners. I too have gotten a lot of my plants from others. My garden feels like love. Thanks for helping me learn that you can divide plants safely.

  • Julianne
    Comment added October 26, 2020Reply

    No this article had nothing to do with propagating plants. I was looking for how to do cuttings like tarragon, scented geraniums etc. Dividing a plant is different than propagating.

  • Julie Stroeve
    Comment added October 25, 2020Reply

    I'm trying to propagate wild rose cuttings - the USA Midwest variety. One, hard to find, and two, tried it with horrid results. End result will be a full hedge of mature wild roses. thanks all!

  • Sir Kevin Parr Bt
    Comment added October 25, 2020Reply

    beat and easy way to have more of one plant out of buying from garden centres potted plants on sale. I wait until I only want a few and seeds of one type hard to start. I then buy a pot bound at less cash and divide into, sometimes, six plants and pot them all up. Later in summer plant out. Garden centres often dont have a clue why i look for pots of plants with many signs of being so split. Its a very good way if you only need a few of one plant. I do it across the board really. Seeds though are my main line for a six acre gardens. Any way one can save is the way to go.

  • Sam Anderson
    Comment added October 25, 2020Reply

    Why so many whingers on here i thi kthis was for people new to gardens
    Whyjust not request an update for more advanced gardeners after all the writer dosnt know his readers capabilities

  • Joan Manson
    Comment added October 25, 2020Reply

    I agree - insufficient detail on propagation - I'll have to Google it and hope for more

  • Joan
    Comment added October 24, 2020Reply

    I too was hoping for a bit more "how-to" in this article. Instead, it was too anecdotal to be truly useful to those of us who want to try propagating plants but aren't sure how to proceed. Maybe Bonnie could do a follow-up article sharing her actual experiences??

  • Cynthia Brow
    Comment added October 24, 2020Reply

    I agree with Daniel. Everyone knows how to divide perennials. If it blooms in spring you divide in fall, if it blooms in summer or fall, you divide in spring. It's not magic or rocket science. If this were truly about plant propagating, I would have liked to read more about how to take cuttings, and rooting them...

  • Rhonda
    Comment added October 24, 2020Reply

    hi Bonnie:
    I've had beautiful pink hydrangea in my garden for some years now. For the last couple of years I've had no blooms.
    Is there something I should be doing?
    Thank you

    • Sherry
      Comment added October 24, 2020Reply

      I've had a similar problem.
      You are not alone!

  • Daniel
    Comment added October 24, 2020Reply

    This article was far too generalised and gave no real instructions on how to do the subject matter properly.

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