Although I usually divide my perennial plants in spring, fall garden division is the next best thing. And where I live (in NC), we have a long enough growing season that there’s still plenty of time for the plants to take root and establish in their new location before winter sets in.
Splitting Plants in Autumn
This year’s fall garden to-do list includes dividing perennials for a new bed that I’m planning to put in. Along the driveway we have old looking (and by old, I mean ancient) cinder blocks that the previous owner put in. I hate them, but it’s easier to work with the concrete blocks rather than pull them all out. I already have a smaller bed that I added a few years ago with plants growing next to and around these blocks, which helps camouflage them. I want to add onto this by working my way along the remainder of the driveway. There’s another bed a few feet down too where my monstrous forsythia shrub grows. I’d like to connect this to the other bed.
It’s going to be a huge undertaking, but I’m up for it. I’ve already gotten a number of plants ordered, but there will be areas that need filling in and I’ve got plenty of plants on hand to fit the space. Among these are daylilies, irises, hosta, and coneflowers. I’ll also be adding in a few sedum plants too, which are quite easy to divide (and even root should a piece break off). I can normally leave it to nature to fill in empty spaces with wild violets, as they seed all over, but why wait when I can simply pop up what I need from my already abundant supply and transplant myself.
In addition to these I’ll be transplanting a potted tea olive tree and some other plants. Fall is not only a good time for plant division, but it’s great for transplanting too. In fact, it tends to get hot here in spring much quicker these days than in years past, so I find both transplanting and dividing perennials in autumn to be better. We may still enjoy warm days, but the heat and humidity isn’t as excruciating, and the plants still have plenty of time to soak up some sun while they establish in their new setting. It’s more pleasant outside when I’m watering too, which is of utmost importance whenever you divide and transplant.
By the time spring rolls around next season, the plants will have developed a good root system in their new location and I’ll be rewarded with lush new growth. Another great thing about splitting plants in autumn (or anytime really) is the fact that they’re coming from older plants so, depending on the plant, you don’t have to wait as long for blooming to take place. And the bigger the clump, the more area covered so long wait for the garden bed to fill in and mature.