Tips for Dividing Perennials

Learn the best time for dividing perennials in your garden.

Hosta ~Royal Standard~ (01) Habit

Hosta ~Royal Standard~ (01) Habit

Hosta ~Royal Standard~ (01)

Even though perennials bloom year after year, that doesn't mean that you can plant them and forget them. The best way to keep them healthy and to keep them from crowding out other plants is to divide them before summer growth begins.

For perennials that bloom in spring to early summer, fall is the best time to divide:

  • Irises
  • Bleeding hearts
  • Lilies of the valley

For perennials that bloom in summer or fall, divide in spring:

  • Vinca
  • Ornamental grasses
  • Chrysanthemums
  • Siberian irises
  • Daylilies
  • Purple coneflowers
  • Obedient plants
  • Hostas
  • Many groundcovers

Thin perennials when they start getting overgrown. When crowded, the plants produce fewer blooms and are more likely to become diseased. 

Thinning is an easy, inexpensive way to generate more plants and to prevent one species from crowding out others. 

The basic tools you need for this task are:

  • Clean plastic pots
  • Potting soil
  • Pair of shears
  • Strong, sharp knife
  • Sharp spade
  • Wheelbarrow
  • Plastic bags

A few tips to keep in mind as you divide perennials:

  • Resist the temptation to use soil from your garden when planting new divisions in containers; the soil becomes hard and compact, and plants suffer from a lack of oxygen to their roots. Instead, use potting soil.
  • Divide perennials late in the day or when the sky is overcast; keeping new divisions out of direct sunlight spares them from extra stress during replanting.
  • If you live in a warmer climate (Zones 7 to 10) and your perennials have already started growing, you can still divide the crowded plants, but they may not recover as quickly as dormant plants.
Keep Reading

Next Up

When to Divide Perennials

Learn how to tell if your perennials need dividing—and when to do it.

Perennial Stars

Have planting to do? Master gardener Paul James suggests some interesting plants you may not be familiar with that will increase the variety and beauty in your garden.

Dividing Perennials

Follow these easy steps to divide perennials.

The 10 Essential Steps to Planting Perennials

Get your perennials off to a solid start and they’ll reward you with many seasons of color.

Perennial Flowers

Learn the basics of gardening with perennial flowers.

Perennial Plants

Discover reasons why you should add perennials to your yard.

What Are Perennials?

Explore the wonderful world of perennials—and learn if these come-back plants are right for you.

Transplanting Perennials

Follow these tips on how to best transplant perennials.

Perennials That Pop!

Try these suggestions for memorable perennials that will add impact to your garden.

Perennials for Summer and Fall

Get tips on which perennial plants are good through summer and into the fall season.

On TV

Follow Us Everywhere

Join the party! Don't miss HGTV in your favorite social media feeds.