Category Archives: Gardening/farming

The Best Mulch Types

Why Mulch?

Spreading mulch over your garden soil is the best way to save time and energy in your yard. Mulch helps the soil hold moisture so you don’t have to water as often. It also suppresses weeds. And over time, mulches made from organic materials break down and increase your soil’s structure and fertility.

shredded barkShredded Bark

Shredded bark is one of the most common and least expensive types of mulch. It comes from a variety of sources, including cedar trees. Shredded bark is one of the best mulch types to use on slopes and it breaks down relatively slowly. Some shredded-bark products are byproducts from other industries; they’re considered environmentally friendly. Check the mulch packaging for more information.

Mulch tip: Shredded bark can take up some nitrogen from the soil as it decomposes. If you have poor soil, adding some organic fertilizer to the soil can help keep your plants healthy.

leavesLeaves

Save money by shredding fallen leaves in your yard and using them to as mulch to cover the soil. Fallen leaves break down quickly (often in less than a year), but should be shredded before use to prevent them from matting down. Fallen leaves are commonly used as mulch in winter.

grass clippingsGrass Clippings

Another type of mulch you can make for free, grass clippings break down fast but add nitrogen to the soil as they do. It’s best to use grass clippings in thin layers or to let the grass dry before spreading it as a mulch — otherwise it starts to stink and rot as it decomposes.

Here’s a hint: Avoid using grass clippings if your lawn is chemically treated, especially if you use it in vegetable gardens. The chemicals may harm your desirable garden plants.

strawStraw

Straw mulch has a beautiful golden color that looks great in the garden. It’s also a bit slower to break down than leaves or grass clippings.

Mulch tip: Make sure the straw is free of weed seeds, otherwise it can cause more weeds than it prevents. (Oat straw is often particularly weedy.)

compostCompost

Compost looks like soil, except it’s darker, so it really sets off plants well. This mulch material breaks down quickly but adds to your soil structure the fastest. Plus, it’s inexpensive; you can create your own rich compost for free. Many municipalities give away compost, as well.

pine needle mulchPine Needle Mulch

Pine needles add a delicate, fine texture to plantings. They hold in place well, making them useful on slopes, and they’re relatively slow to break down. If you continuously use pine needles as mulch, they may increase the acidity of your soil. This makes them ideal for use with acid-loving plants such as azaleas, rhododendrons, blueberries, and some types of conifers.

pine bark nuggetsPine Bark Nuggets

Pine bark nuggets are slower to break down than shredded bark, but they don’t stay in place as well. They’re not a good mulch choice for slopes or other areas where they may be washed away by heavy rain. Pine bark nuggets are available in a variety of sizes; the bigger the nugget, the longer it lasts.

wood chipsWood Chips

 You can often get wood chips for free from local tree trimmers, though the trimmers will usually ask you to haul the chips yourself. Wood chips, especially when they’re freshly made, can take up a fair amount of nitrogen from the soil. They can be acidic and lower your soil’s pH, as well.

Mulch tip: If you get wood chips from a local source, check if the tree had poison ivy on it. Working with wood chips that contain poison ivy can cause skin irritation. Also: Wood chips from walnut trees may contain natural chemicals that inhibit the growth of many garden plants.

cocoa hull mulchCocoa Hull Mulch

Cocoa hull mulch is one of the most beautiful types of mulch, thanks to its fine texture and rich color. And many gardeners appreciate its delightful chocolate fragrance. Cocoa hull mulch is one of the most expensive mulch types, though. It decomposes slowly, and unlike most mulch types, it doesn’t fade with time. It’s a great mulch for small-leafed plants such as herbs where the shells are easy to work around. In areas with hot, humid weather, mold may grow on its surface. Cocoa hull mulch is poisonous to dogs and cats if they eat it.

Here’s a hint: Because cocoa hulls are light, they can blow away unless you spray them down well with water after you first spread them.

gravel or river rockGravel or River Rock

Because they’re inorganic materials, gravel and river rock don’t break down in the landscape, so they don’t need to be reapplied every year. However, it also means they don’t improve your soil over time.

Here’s a hint: It can be very difficult to remove gravel or river rock mulch if you ever change your mind. They can make it more difficult to plant in or divide perennials.

Preventing Bitter Cucumbers

It’s the rare gardener who hasn’t experienced growing a bitter cucumber. Few things are as frustrating as tending your vegetables all season long, only to finally harvest them and  find out they don’t taste very good, when you get them to the table. Cucumbers are know for being prolific, sometimes to the extreme. But what good is a bounty of cucumbers if they aren’t edible?

Unfortunately you can’t tell if a cucumber is becoming bitter, while it is still growing and there’s something you can do about it. That’s why it is so important to take some preemptive steps to keep them from becoming bitter int he first place.

cucumber plant

Preventing Bitter Cucumbers

Cultivated cucumbers all contain cucurbitacin B and cucurbitacin C, compounds that are supposed to make their leaves less tasty to munching animals. These compounds are usually confined to the leaves, stems and roots of the plants, where humans don’t notice them. It’s when they move into the fruits that we start detecting a bitter taste.

Usually it is not the whole fruit that turns bitter. More commonly, the bitterness will be concentrated at the stem end and the area right under the skin.

There is still some disagreement about what causes the bitterness to spread into the fruits, but it seems to point to some type of stress while the cucumbers are growing. So although we cannot correct the problem after the fact, we can try and avoid the following 3 growing conditions that are potential culprits of bitter cucumbers.

  1. Dry Conditions: Long periods of hot, dry weather can contribute to bitter cucumbers. There’s not much you can do to control the heat, but keeping your cucumbers well watered will help offset the bitterness. Give them at least an inch of water per week, more during extreme dry spells, and mulch the area around the roots, at planting time.
  2. Lean Soil: Another factor in bitter cucumbers is lean soil and a general lack of nutrients. Cucumbers are heavy feeders and a soil rich in organic matter will go a long way toward producing less stressed, better tasting cucumbers. If your soil is less than ideal, give your cucumbers a little fertilizer every 4-6 weeks.
  3. Lack of Sun: Overcast areas, like the Pacific Northwest, have reported bitter cucumbers due to lack of sun. Again, you can’t control the hours the sun will shine, but you can plant in a spot that gets as much sun as nature will allow. If it’s cool and damp, as well as overcast, growing your cucumbers under cover, like a poly tunnel, will amplify the available heat and light.

So even though cucumber plants grow rather easily and you can get a prodigious harvest from a couple of plants, to get quality as well as quantity you still need to provide them with good growing conditions: plenty of sunshine, regular watering and rich soil.

Finally, look for varieties that are well suited to your area that are labeled ‛non-bitter’. Some reliable varieties are: ‛Armenian’, ‛Diva’, ‛Eversweet’ (any variety with “sweet” in the name), ‛Improved Long Green’ and ‛Lemon’.

As with all plants, edible or otherwise, the real trick to healthy, productive plants is to research what growing conditions the plant prefers and doing your best to provide them. Even a few days of stress can cause a ripple effect of damage. Ornamental plants will probably recover, but you only get one chance to get it right with vegetables and other edible plants. That’s why it is so important to put some though into choosing both your growing site and your vegetable varieties. Here are some more tips for growing healthy cucumber plants in your home garden.

What to Do with Bitter Cucumbers

heart cucumbersIf you find yourself with bitter cucumbers, don’t automatically reach for the compost bucket. Peeling the fruit should improve the flavor. Then try a slice toward the center of the cucumber and see if it is sweeter. You should be able to salvage more than enough for a salad.

And as soon as you notice a bitter cucumber, take the precautions above to ensure the rest of your harvest doesn’t suffer the same fate.

Planting an Herbal Tea Garden

An herbal tea garden is a great way to grow the herbs and plants to create your own custom tea mixes. Having fresh straight from your garden herbs for brewing tea is not only convenient, but it also ensures that you are using herbs that are free of pesticides and herbicides. Whatever reason you have for growing herbs to use in teas– health or simply because you enjoy the taste of tea– being able to create the exact combination you want for a cup of tea is such a pleasure.

teapot

Considerations When Planting an Herbal Tea Garden

Planting an herbal tea garden is as hard as choosing the type of tea you want to drink. If you like to enjoy a variety of teas, then a wide variety of herbs needs to be planted. If you are growing for a specific tea, or want to grow herbs that aid with a specific health issue, then the garden won’t need to be as big or include as many plants.

Decide on the Types of Tea Wanted

If you generally enjoy tea, then you want to grow an herb garden filled with a wide variety of teas that can all be combined or used in a variety of combinations to create the perfect tea for your mood. Growing herbs that you can brew into teas that will help ease a specific condition that you need help with will call for less space, but smart planning when it comes to including enough of each plant in order to ensure that you are able to enjoy homegrown tea from the garden all summer long. Find out which herbs help with the specific health needs you have, and then choose one or two additional two or three herbs that pair well with those herbs to make a tea that you can enjoy.

tea garden

Designing the Garden

Decide if you are going to be planting in a garden bed or potted containers. If you are going to be growing specific tea combinations, a couple potted containers that grow all the herbs you need can be sufficient. An herbal tea garden that is going to include the ability to grow as many tea combinations as possible, you are going to need more space and should prepare and entire bed. Remember that most herbs, including those that are used in herbal teas, prefer well drained, nutrient poor soil that is not disturbed with tilling, but gets good aeration.

tea combo

Choosing and Pairing Herbs

Choosing the herbs that you want starts with your personal preferences, but to get you started, here are some of the best herbs for teas. They are also the most widely used herbs for teas, and many of them pair well with one or another, or are packed with flavor that can be combined with whatever herbal tea you want to drink for health. Chamomile and Lemon Balm are the two most common herbs grown for tea, and both can be added to any light or bitter herbal tea combinations to give them a bright flavor. Coriander and Fennel are grown for the interesting flavor that their leaves give otherwise dull tea combinations. Bee Balm and Betony are added for their milder flavor notes. Catnip and Mint can be added individually or in combination to give tea a strong herbal mint flavor.

Another interesting herb to grow for tea include leaves, which are hard to find for tea because they are so often sprayed with a lot of pesticides. Roses are considered herb plants and a couple low growing bushes, or climbing vines placed in the back of the garden are enough to provide you with enough rose hips that can be gathered and dried.

herbal tea

Gathering and Use

The benefit of growing your own herbal tea ingredients is being able to use fresh herbs for the teas, but you can gather the herbs a couple times throughout the season and dry them to use as needed. Wait till plants have budded and then collect leaves and flowers. If drying, lay them out flat on a clean counter or shelf where they can remain undisturbed for a few days. Every once in a while, turn stems and leaves over to make sure that they are being air dried completely. Store in a sealed bag or container and combine with other herbal tea ingredients as you go. By drying as many of the herbs as you can from your garden, you can create dozens of flavor combinations all summer and winter long.

Dividing Perennials

Why Divide Perennials?

Dividing is advantageous and oftentimes a necessity for the health and longevity of perennial plants. Although it can be a fairly large project depending on the size of your garden, you only need to divide your plants one every few years, and doing so will keep your garden looking tidy. Not to mention, it’ll save you money in the long run. Dividing benefits perennials (and the gardener) by:

 

keeping them healthy. Many perennials grow quickly, forming large clumps. If you don’t divide them every three to four years, these clumps can die out in the middle, leaving a bare hole.

protecting them from fungal diseases and insect infestations.

keeping them beautiful. Overcrowded perennials often have fewer and/or smaller flowers than their well-spaced and divided counterparts. If your perennials are drastically in need of division, they may even appear stunted.

keeping them in bounds. Some perennials (including gooseneck loosestrife, plume poppy, and obedient plant) are especially vigorous or even aggressive. Dividing these plants will help keep them from overwhelming their neighbors.

making more plants. Dividing perennials leaves you with more plants of the same variety — perfect for adding to other places in the garden or trading with friends, family, or neighbors.

When to Divide

While you can divide most perennials any time from spring to fall, those two seasons are best.

This is because dividing your perennials can be stressful on the plants — and they’ll recover better from the shock in cool, moist conditions. That said, if you want to divide your favorite perennials in summer, be sure to keep them well watered afterward.

As far as your plants go, wait to divide them until they’re large enough that you can make several clumps out of them.

How to Divide Perennials

Step 1: Dig the Clump

Dig up the clump of perennials to be divided by inserting the shovel deep into the soil around the perimeter to loosen roots and isolate the clump.

Here’s a hint: Watering the perennial a couple of days before you dig it will soften the soil and save you effort.

Step 2: Remove the Clump

Force your shovel or garden fork under the root ball and lever the ball up and down to loosen and position it on the shovel. Then lift the shovel and root ball. Try to keep the root system as intact as you can.

Once you dig the plant out of the ground, shake, wash, or brush any excess soil from around the root ball. This makes it easier to pull the clump apart.

Step 3: Separate the Crowns and Replant

Pry or cut apart individual crowns. Each clump needs to have sets of leaves and roots in order to grow.

Replant the divisions promptly so the roots don’t dry out. Plant at the same depth as before and water well. Cover the soil with mulch to help conserve moisture while your new divisions become established.


As would be expected, every perennial has specific needs, so before dividing, do some research on your particular perennials to ensure that the division is effective and appropriate.

Category Archives: Gardening/farming

The Best Mulch Types

Why Mulch?

Spreading mulch over your garden soil is the best way to save time and energy in your yard. Mulch helps the soil hold moisture so you don’t have to water as often. It also suppresses weeds. And over time, mulches made from organic materials break down and increase your soil’s structure and fertility.

shredded barkShredded Bark

Shredded bark is one of the most common and least expensive types of mulch. It comes from a variety of sources, including cedar trees. Shredded bark is one of the best mulch types to use on slopes and it breaks down relatively slowly. Some shredded-bark products are byproducts from other industries; they’re considered environmentally friendly. Check the mulch packaging for more information.

Mulch tip: Shredded bark can take up some nitrogen from the soil as it decomposes. If you have poor soil, adding some organic fertilizer to the soil can help keep your plants healthy.

leavesLeaves

Save money by shredding fallen leaves in your yard and using them to as mulch to cover the soil. Fallen leaves break down quickly (often in less than a year), but should be shredded before use to prevent them from matting down. Fallen leaves are commonly used as mulch in winter.

grass clippingsGrass Clippings

Another type of mulch you can make for free, grass clippings break down fast but add nitrogen to the soil as they do. It’s best to use grass clippings in thin layers or to let the grass dry before spreading it as a mulch — otherwise it starts to stink and rot as it decomposes.

Here’s a hint: Avoid using grass clippings if your lawn is chemically treated, especially if you use it in vegetable gardens. The chemicals may harm your desirable garden plants.

strawStraw

Straw mulch has a beautiful golden color that looks great in the garden. It’s also a bit slower to break down than leaves or grass clippings.

Mulch tip: Make sure the straw is free of weed seeds, otherwise it can cause more weeds than it prevents. (Oat straw is often particularly weedy.)

compostCompost

Compost looks like soil, except it’s darker, so it really sets off plants well. This mulch material breaks down quickly but adds to your soil structure the fastest. Plus, it’s inexpensive; you can create your own rich compost for free. Many municipalities give away compost, as well.

pine needle mulchPine Needle Mulch

Pine needles add a delicate, fine texture to plantings. They hold in place well, making them useful on slopes, and they’re relatively slow to break down. If you continuously use pine needles as mulch, they may increase the acidity of your soil. This makes them ideal for use with acid-loving plants such as azaleas, rhododendrons, blueberries, and some types of conifers.

pine bark nuggetsPine Bark Nuggets

Pine bark nuggets are slower to break down than shredded bark, but they don’t stay in place as well. They’re not a good mulch choice for slopes or other areas where they may be washed away by heavy rain. Pine bark nuggets are available in a variety of sizes; the bigger the nugget, the longer it lasts.

wood chipsWood Chips

 You can often get wood chips for free from local tree trimmers, though the trimmers will usually ask you to haul the chips yourself. Wood chips, especially when they’re freshly made, can take up a fair amount of nitrogen from the soil. They can be acidic and lower your soil’s pH, as well.

Mulch tip: If you get wood chips from a local source, check if the tree had poison ivy on it. Working with wood chips that contain poison ivy can cause skin irritation. Also: Wood chips from walnut trees may contain natural chemicals that inhibit the growth of many garden plants.

cocoa hull mulchCocoa Hull Mulch

Cocoa hull mulch is one of the most beautiful types of mulch, thanks to its fine texture and rich color. And many gardeners appreciate its delightful chocolate fragrance. Cocoa hull mulch is one of the most expensive mulch types, though. It decomposes slowly, and unlike most mulch types, it doesn’t fade with time. It’s a great mulch for small-leafed plants such as herbs where the shells are easy to work around. In areas with hot, humid weather, mold may grow on its surface. Cocoa hull mulch is poisonous to dogs and cats if they eat it.

Here’s a hint: Because cocoa hulls are light, they can blow away unless you spray them down well with water after you first spread them.

gravel or river rockGravel or River Rock

Because they’re inorganic materials, gravel and river rock don’t break down in the landscape, so they don’t need to be reapplied every year. However, it also means they don’t improve your soil over time.

Here’s a hint: It can be very difficult to remove gravel or river rock mulch if you ever change your mind. They can make it more difficult to plant in or divide perennials.

Preventing Bitter Cucumbers

It’s the rare gardener who hasn’t experienced growing a bitter cucumber. Few things are as frustrating as tending your vegetables all season long, only to finally harvest them and  find out they don’t taste very good, when you get them to the table. Cucumbers are know for being prolific, sometimes to the extreme. But what good is a bounty of cucumbers if they aren’t edible?

Unfortunately you can’t tell if a cucumber is becoming bitter, while it is still growing and there’s something you can do about it. That’s why it is so important to take some preemptive steps to keep them from becoming bitter int he first place.

cucumber plant

Preventing Bitter Cucumbers

Cultivated cucumbers all contain cucurbitacin B and cucurbitacin C, compounds that are supposed to make their leaves less tasty to munching animals. These compounds are usually confined to the leaves, stems and roots of the plants, where humans don’t notice them. It’s when they move into the fruits that we start detecting a bitter taste.

Usually it is not the whole fruit that turns bitter. More commonly, the bitterness will be concentrated at the stem end and the area right under the skin.

There is still some disagreement about what causes the bitterness to spread into the fruits, but it seems to point to some type of stress while the cucumbers are growing. So although we cannot correct the problem after the fact, we can try and avoid the following 3 growing conditions that are potential culprits of bitter cucumbers.

  1. Dry Conditions: Long periods of hot, dry weather can contribute to bitter cucumbers. There’s not much you can do to control the heat, but keeping your cucumbers well watered will help offset the bitterness. Give them at least an inch of water per week, more during extreme dry spells, and mulch the area around the roots, at planting time.
  2. Lean Soil: Another factor in bitter cucumbers is lean soil and a general lack of nutrients. Cucumbers are heavy feeders and a soil rich in organic matter will go a long way toward producing less stressed, better tasting cucumbers. If your soil is less than ideal, give your cucumbers a little fertilizer every 4-6 weeks.
  3. Lack of Sun: Overcast areas, like the Pacific Northwest, have reported bitter cucumbers due to lack of sun. Again, you can’t control the hours the sun will shine, but you can plant in a spot that gets as much sun as nature will allow. If it’s cool and damp, as well as overcast, growing your cucumbers under cover, like a poly tunnel, will amplify the available heat and light.

So even though cucumber plants grow rather easily and you can get a prodigious harvest from a couple of plants, to get quality as well as quantity you still need to provide them with good growing conditions: plenty of sunshine, regular watering and rich soil.

Finally, look for varieties that are well suited to your area that are labeled ‛non-bitter’. Some reliable varieties are: ‛Armenian’, ‛Diva’, ‛Eversweet’ (any variety with “sweet” in the name), ‛Improved Long Green’ and ‛Lemon’.

As with all plants, edible or otherwise, the real trick to healthy, productive plants is to research what growing conditions the plant prefers and doing your best to provide them. Even a few days of stress can cause a ripple effect of damage. Ornamental plants will probably recover, but you only get one chance to get it right with vegetables and other edible plants. That’s why it is so important to put some though into choosing both your growing site and your vegetable varieties. Here are some more tips for growing healthy cucumber plants in your home garden.

What to Do with Bitter Cucumbers

heart cucumbersIf you find yourself with bitter cucumbers, don’t automatically reach for the compost bucket. Peeling the fruit should improve the flavor. Then try a slice toward the center of the cucumber and see if it is sweeter. You should be able to salvage more than enough for a salad.

And as soon as you notice a bitter cucumber, take the precautions above to ensure the rest of your harvest doesn’t suffer the same fate.

Planting an Herbal Tea Garden

An herbal tea garden is a great way to grow the herbs and plants to create your own custom tea mixes. Having fresh straight from your garden herbs for brewing tea is not only convenient, but it also ensures that you are using herbs that are free of pesticides and herbicides. Whatever reason you have for growing herbs to use in teas– health or simply because you enjoy the taste of tea– being able to create the exact combination you want for a cup of tea is such a pleasure.

teapot

Considerations When Planting an Herbal Tea Garden

Planting an herbal tea garden is as hard as choosing the type of tea you want to drink. If you like to enjoy a variety of teas, then a wide variety of herbs needs to be planted. If you are growing for a specific tea, or want to grow herbs that aid with a specific health issue, then the garden won’t need to be as big or include as many plants.

Decide on the Types of Tea Wanted

If you generally enjoy tea, then you want to grow an herb garden filled with a wide variety of teas that can all be combined or used in a variety of combinations to create the perfect tea for your mood. Growing herbs that you can brew into teas that will help ease a specific condition that you need help with will call for less space, but smart planning when it comes to including enough of each plant in order to ensure that you are able to enjoy homegrown tea from the garden all summer long. Find out which herbs help with the specific health needs you have, and then choose one or two additional two or three herbs that pair well with those herbs to make a tea that you can enjoy.

tea garden

Designing the Garden

Decide if you are going to be planting in a garden bed or potted containers. If you are going to be growing specific tea combinations, a couple potted containers that grow all the herbs you need can be sufficient. An herbal tea garden that is going to include the ability to grow as many tea combinations as possible, you are going to need more space and should prepare and entire bed. Remember that most herbs, including those that are used in herbal teas, prefer well drained, nutrient poor soil that is not disturbed with tilling, but gets good aeration.

tea combo

Choosing and Pairing Herbs

Choosing the herbs that you want starts with your personal preferences, but to get you started, here are some of the best herbs for teas. They are also the most widely used herbs for teas, and many of them pair well with one or another, or are packed with flavor that can be combined with whatever herbal tea you want to drink for health. Chamomile and Lemon Balm are the two most common herbs grown for tea, and both can be added to any light or bitter herbal tea combinations to give them a bright flavor. Coriander and Fennel are grown for the interesting flavor that their leaves give otherwise dull tea combinations. Bee Balm and Betony are added for their milder flavor notes. Catnip and Mint can be added individually or in combination to give tea a strong herbal mint flavor.

Another interesting herb to grow for tea include leaves, which are hard to find for tea because they are so often sprayed with a lot of pesticides. Roses are considered herb plants and a couple low growing bushes, or climbing vines placed in the back of the garden are enough to provide you with enough rose hips that can be gathered and dried.

herbal tea

Gathering and Use

The benefit of growing your own herbal tea ingredients is being able to use fresh herbs for the teas, but you can gather the herbs a couple times throughout the season and dry them to use as needed. Wait till plants have budded and then collect leaves and flowers. If drying, lay them out flat on a clean counter or shelf where they can remain undisturbed for a few days. Every once in a while, turn stems and leaves over to make sure that they are being air dried completely. Store in a sealed bag or container and combine with other herbal tea ingredients as you go. By drying as many of the herbs as you can from your garden, you can create dozens of flavor combinations all summer and winter long.

Dividing Perennials

Why Divide Perennials?

Dividing is advantageous and oftentimes a necessity for the health and longevity of perennial plants. Although it can be a fairly large project depending on the size of your garden, you only need to divide your plants one every few years, and doing so will keep your garden looking tidy. Not to mention, it’ll save you money in the long run. Dividing benefits perennials (and the gardener) by:

 

keeping them healthy. Many perennials grow quickly, forming large clumps. If you don’t divide them every three to four years, these clumps can die out in the middle, leaving a bare hole.

protecting them from fungal diseases and insect infestations.

keeping them beautiful. Overcrowded perennials often have fewer and/or smaller flowers than their well-spaced and divided counterparts. If your perennials are drastically in need of division, they may even appear stunted.

keeping them in bounds. Some perennials (including gooseneck loosestrife, plume poppy, and obedient plant) are especially vigorous or even aggressive. Dividing these plants will help keep them from overwhelming their neighbors.

making more plants. Dividing perennials leaves you with more plants of the same variety — perfect for adding to other places in the garden or trading with friends, family, or neighbors.

When to Divide

While you can divide most perennials any time from spring to fall, those two seasons are best.

This is because dividing your perennials can be stressful on the plants — and they’ll recover better from the shock in cool, moist conditions. That said, if you want to divide your favorite perennials in summer, be sure to keep them well watered afterward.

As far as your plants go, wait to divide them until they’re large enough that you can make several clumps out of them.

How to Divide Perennials

Step 1: Dig the Clump

Dig up the clump of perennials to be divided by inserting the shovel deep into the soil around the perimeter to loosen roots and isolate the clump.

Here’s a hint: Watering the perennial a couple of days before you dig it will soften the soil and save you effort.

Step 2: Remove the Clump

Force your shovel or garden fork under the root ball and lever the ball up and down to loosen and position it on the shovel. Then lift the shovel and root ball. Try to keep the root system as intact as you can.

Once you dig the plant out of the ground, shake, wash, or brush any excess soil from around the root ball. This makes it easier to pull the clump apart.

Step 3: Separate the Crowns and Replant

Pry or cut apart individual crowns. Each clump needs to have sets of leaves and roots in order to grow.

Replant the divisions promptly so the roots don’t dry out. Plant at the same depth as before and water well. Cover the soil with mulch to help conserve moisture while your new divisions become established.


As would be expected, every perennial has specific needs, so before dividing, do some research on your particular perennials to ensure that the division is effective and appropriate.