Garden lore

“If gardening isn’t a pleasure for you, chances are the work will merely give you a rotten disposition. If you’d rather be golfing or fishing, get a bumper sticker that says so, and forget gardening.”

Elsa Bakalar A Garden of One’s Own (1994)

Dividing plants

If you have been buying perennials recently, you can often divide these immediately and plant double the number. This is Hosta June which showed more than one growing point. I cut it down the middle, making sure that each side had both leaves (which means growing tips) and roots. I find a meat cleaver is easiest for this operation although a carving knife will do. Some people use a sharp spade but it is harder to get the cut in exactly the right place because you have less control over the spade.

Plants which are in full growth, as most perennials are in spring, will recover more quickly. Just make sure you plant them into ground which you have prepared well by digging it over thoroughly and preferably adding compost or humus. Water the plants in and keep the moisture levels up for the next few weeks. You need to give them a good start because you will have shocked the plant by cutting it in half.

Commercially, these plants are generally divided in winter with much more precision and controlled conditions (which will generate many more plants) but for the home gardener, dividing it in full growth can give good results and it is easy to see what you are doing.

First published in the Waikato Times and reprinted here with their permission.