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Perennials – Divide and Conquer

 

As the garden rests and recovers from the growing period of spring and summer, autumn and winter are the perfect time to catch up with perennial care, maintenance and propagation. Follow these tips to ensure you have beautiful perennials in spring and summer.

 

We love perennials because they have some of the most unique flowers and are suitable for background, cottage gardens and mass plantings.

 

Perennial Definition:

A perennial is a shrub that lives for more than two years and typically flowers in spring and summer. Although many evergreens are also classed as perennials, perennials often head into dormancy in autumn and winter and then bounce back when the weather starts warming up.+

 

Perennials – Divide and Conquer

 

Cleaning Up:

Removing foliage creates a tidy look in your landscape. A good time to do this is when perennials are heading into dormancy. Snip off any leftover growth, ensuring you leave 5 cm of the plant's stem.

 

This allowance is for two reasons:

  • If cut too low, water can sit in the crown of the plant, causing rotting and potential death, and
  • Some perennials' buds are on stems that sit above the soil line; trimming back too low can prevent sufficient bud growth.

 

Also, if you suspect your plants have any diseases, cutting back in the cooler months may be something to consider as it lessens the plant's risk of disease carrying over to the next growing season.

 

Perennials – Divide and Conquer

 

Mulch:

Plants love being tucked in for winter because they like a consistent soil temperature; mulch achieves this, reducing stress on the plant and helping to suppress weeds. Do not cover the plant's crown in mulch, as this may cause rotting. Pea straw and bark mulch are all great examples of mulching materials.

 

Perennials – Divide and Conquer

 

Watering:

Don't forget to water. If you don't have much rainfall or your perennials are tucked under a tree, remember you need to provide a generous drink at least once a month.

 

 

Perennials – Divide and Conquer

 

Dividing Perennials:

Perennials have clumping habits and widen once planted in the garden. If your plant stops growing, is browning off in the centre or collapsing centrally, then it's time to split them. This essentially creates more individual plants that can be transplanted elsewhere. Perennials can be divided at any time of the year, but cooler conditions allow the roots to settle after division and focus on producing more roots ready for the hot months ahead. Pay close attention to the root types when dividing your perennials to get the most from your plants. Depending on the plant and its root type, ensure you have the correct tools. A hand fork or a sharp knife is always handy for delicate plants. Spades, handsaws, and secateurs are good options for larger perennials.

 

Perennials – Divide and Conquer

 

Transplanting:

The first step is lifting the plant. How you lift depends on the size of the plant. Use a trowel or spade to dig around the plant. Use the plant's drip line as a guide to ensure the essential roots are transplanted (the drip line is the width of the plant). If planting directly back into the garden, make sure you work compost into the hole and incorporate Oderings Garden Replenish. If planting into pots, use Oderings Potting & Basket Mix, which contains the appropriate slow- and fast-feeding fertilisers needed. Keep watered so roots can develop. Keep repotted plants in a glass house or propagation house for rapid growth.

 

Perennials – Divide and Conquer

 

Root types

Offsets: small plants growing at the base of a larger one. These can be removed with a trowel in sections or by hand. Ensure when collecting that the new offsets have enough roots. E.g. echinacea, agapanthus, lamb’s ear and hostas.

 

Surface roots: sit just under the surface of the soil, and new plants grow from these. Simply dig between the mother plant and the new plant to get a division with roots. E.g. sedum, veronica, ajuga, violas, groundcover campanulas.

 

Taproots: are usually the largest, central root on the plant. You can form smaller plants by using a sharp knife to slice down the length of the root. Make sure you have side shoots, eyes and some of the main tap root. E.g. euphorbia, platycodon and dicentra.

 

Underground running roots: the mother plant forms suckers under the surface so you can dig a section out, leaving the mother plant undisturbed. E.g. anemone, geraniums.

 

Woody roots: are formed when the stem of the mother plant are slightly buried with mulch or rest on the ground. By cutting between the rooted stem and the mother plant, you can get a division. E.g. iberis, lavender, penstemons, buxus and thyme.

 

 

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