For many gardeners, fall is when the hard work of spring and summer in the garden slows down. But before you start packing your tools and hanging up your gloves, there is one essential task to tackle for your spring or summer flowering perennials – division.
Division is not only a propagation method (although that is a great bonus). For many perennials, it’s also a way to reinvigorate plants after years of slower growth and fewer flowers. With just a few minutes and some essential tools, you can double your stock and improve plant health simultaneously.
These 31 perennials are great candidates for dividing this fall, so get your shovels and shears ready.
These perennials can be divided in early fall for propagation or spreading.
Peonies are perennial garden staples ready for dividing in early fall.
Although dividing is unnecessary to boost growth (peonies will be happy in the right spot for 50 years or more), it is a great way to expand your stock, spread peony plants around your garden, or replicate a variety that’s tough to find.
Cut down the stems to almost ground level to make the plants easier to pull out, leaving a few inches for better grip. When splitting the clump, ensure each section has around four eyes for strong regrowth and bushy plants.
Early fall division helps roots establish before spring, and mulching protects them from temperature fluctuations.
Garden phlox attracts tons of pollinators to your garden when in flower. But after a few years, these flowers may become less prolific or the foliage sparse. Dividing in fall is a great way to rejuvenate garden phlox, boosting growth and flowering.
You can also divide phlox to limit size or create new plants to pop in other parts of the garden or in containers.
While you can divide in spring, early fall allows the roots to settle in well before the following spring (depending on the temperature in your region). Apply a layer of mulch after planting to protect new and vulnerable roots from temperature dips.
Dividing every few years prevents overcrowding, enhances plant health, and provides more sections for planting.
Astilbes are champions of shade gardens. To keep them flowering and prevent the risk of disease, it’s best to divide them every couple of years. This limits overcrowding and gives you more plants at the same time.
Lift the plant carefully to keep as many roots intact as possible. Depending on the size of the mature plant, you should be able to separate it into about four sections. Ensure each section has enough roots to survive on its own.
After splitting, it’s best to replant immediately to stop the roots from drying out. Water after planting to encourage the roots to establish in early fall.
Lilly of the Valley
This adorable plant, known for its bell-shaped flowers and sweet fragrance, can be divided in the fall if overcrowded.
Lilly of the Valley is beloved for its adorable bell-shaped flowers and deliciously sweet fragrance that fills spring gardens. These plants spread with ease independently and don’t always need to be divided. But if there is any overcrowding, or if you want to control their growth, fall is a great time to divide.
Watering a few days before lifting the plant will make removing them easier and limit your risk of transplant shock. Dig up the entire plant and pull apart the rhizomes or pips, removing those that look unhealthy or rotten.
Replant with more spacing between each section or move pips to a new part of your garden to establish.
For mature plants, dividing in the fall improves flowering.
If you want to boost the flowering of a mature Siberian iris next spring, fall is the perfect time to divide. Depending on position and variety, these plants benefit from division every three or four years.
If you’re unsure when to divide, look out for limited flowers or a lack of growth in the very center of the clump. You can also split up the plants to spread them around your garden or share them with friends and family.
Dig into the soil around the clump using a spade and lift it gently. Growth can become quite dense in mature plants, so ensure your pruning saw is sharp to effectively cut the plant into sections.
To revive bearded irises suffering from overcrowding or disease-related issues, consider dividing them in the fall.
Bearded irises are renowned for their intricate flowers. Unfortunately, overcrowding and diseases can prevent these plants from flowering prolifically. If you notice a decline in blooms or signs of damage from rot or borer, dividing in the fall can help save the plants.
Bearded iris root systems are fairly shallow but heavy, so you’ll need a spade to lift them out. Cut down the leaves and remove any areas affected by pests or diseases. Then, separate sections of healthy rhizomes for replanting.
Cut back the leaves of each section by about two-thirds and leave them to cure for a few days. This limits your chances of rot when replanting.
Dividing every four years is crucial for Japanese iris for optimal growth due to their unique growth habit.
Like other irises, the Japanese iris grows best when divided about every four years. Their unique growth habit makes this practice essential.
New roots will form on top of previous ones rather than alongside them, pushing the plant up to the soil surface and causing the roots to dry out quickly. Since Japanese iris loves moisture, regular dividing will stop the plants from drying out, extending their lifespan.
The division is best done in early fall or late summer for colder regions. These plants need around six to eight weeks to settle in before serious temperature dips.
To keep daylily flowers vibrant, divide plants as needed based on their growth rate.
Intricate daylily flowers are a sight, opening for only one day. As the plants grow and spread over the years, these flowers become smaller and scarcer. Dividing will give the roots some breathing room, allowing new vigorous flowers to pop up the following season.
The years between dividing will depend on the daylily you are growing. If your type grows relatively slowly, you can wait around five years between dividing sessions. Quick growers will need to be divided sooner.
Once you’ve lifted the plants, divide them into healthy sections containing three sets of leaves and plenty of roots. Replant and water immediately to reduce the risk of shock.
While not always necessary, giving hostas a refresh every four or five years promotes vigorous growth.
Although hostas don’t always need dividing, you will see more vigorous lush growth if you refresh them every four or five years. When dividing in fall, ensure you get the plants in the ground around four weeks before the first frost in your area.
Dig into the soil several inches around the crown using a spade to include as much of the root system as possible. This is much easier for smaller hostas than larger varieties, which can take a while to lift.
Rinse off the roots to get a closer look and cut into sections with around three eyes. Replant the sections with more spacing depending on size and water immediately after planting.
These poppies are usually averse to division due to long taproots but may need it if overcrowded.
Oriental poppies are trickier to divide than previous mentions due to the long taproots. These plants generally prefer not to be disturbed.
However, they can become overcrowded after several years, increasing disease risk and limiting flowering. In these cases, it’s best to take the plunge and divide.
When lifting the plants, dig deeply into the soil to lift the long roots up from the bottom. Cut through the roots to separate the sections and replant immediately.
Over time, bulbs will spread underground, and older bulbs in the center will produce fewer blooms until divided.
Over time, lily bulbs will spread beneath the soil, sprouting new growth. The older bulbs in the center will not produce as many blooms and green growth as the new bulbs, indicating it’s time to lift and divide.
All lily types are suitable for dividing in fall. Cut down the leaves and dig up the bulbs, separating them into sections. Plant large bulbs around five inches deep and smaller bulbs closer to the surface to mature.
You can replant immediately for overwintering or store the bulbs and replant later. Large bulbs should flower the summer after planting, but smaller bulbs will take a while to settle in before they flower.
Divide when stems flop and flowers decrease, typically into two sections for quicker establishment.
Salvias are wonderful perennials for those in warmer zones, blooming prolifically from spring to fall.
Dividing is not always required, depending on performance and where you’ve planted. But if the stems begin to flop over and you notice fewer flowers, it may be time to give the roots a little extra room. You can also divide to propagate and replant in another part of your garden.
After pulling the roots from the soil, splitting the plant into two sections is typically best. You can divide further, but it may take longer for the plants to establish.
Divide this plant by cutting back stems, digging, and splitting into sections for faster establishment.
Black-eyed Susans may tire after three or four years of vigorous growth and flowering. We do not want fewer flowers for less time when growing these sunny plants. Luckily, dividing can save the day.
You can cut back the stems before removing them or leave them on to make the plants easier to pull. Dig into the soil around the roots and lift from the bottom, shaking off the excess to get a closer look at the roots.
Split the plant into two or more sections using a sharp pair of shears or a pruning saw. The more roots you leave on, the quicker the plant will establish in its new spot.
For plants with heart-shaped flowers, division helps spread them and prevent overcrowding.
Grown for their intricate heart-shaped flowers, it’s easy to see why you want to grow as many bleeding hearts as possible. If you want to spread your existing plants to other parts of your garden or give existing plants extra room to prevent overcrowding, dividing is the way to go.
The root system can extend quite far, so dig a wide circle around the plant to lift it out completely. Keep as much of the root ball intact as possible, but don’t worry if you accidentally trim a few roots off.
With a closer look at the roots, identify sections for division. Each one should have a few shoots for regrowth. You can use a knife or saw to cut the crown down the middle for smaller plants.
These perennials can be short-lived but self-seed well, so dividing is possible in the fall for faster propagation.
Columbines are generally considered short-lived perennials, but they do self-seed well to remain vigorous year after year. Collecting seeds is the easiest way to propagate, but dividing in fall is also possible for quicker results.
Columbine is tricky to divide because of the extensive root system. You’ll need to dig a perimeter relatively deep and wide to avoid cutting off the bottom of the root ball. They generally don’t like to be disturbed, so the less handling you do, the better.
Once the plant is removed, cut it down the center to separate into sections. Replant as quickly as you can and water to limit transplant shock.
Hardy geraniums may become overcrowded, leading to reduced growth and fewer flowers.
Hardy geraniums can become dense after a few years. Overcrowded roots will struggle to support growth above the soil, resulting in fewer leaves and, sadly, fewer flowers.
Dividing every four years will help boost them and bring them back to full flowering. You can divide sooner if you want to move the plant somewhere else or to containers, as long as it is large enough to split.
Split each geranium plant into two or more sections and replant in their new homes. This is also an opportunity to refresh the soil with extra compost to provide a healthy foundation for the next few years.
Revive this plant by dividing in the fall and replanting for increased flowers the next season.
Echinacea provides interest throughout the seasons, including when the flowers die back. However, this interest begins to wane after three or four years as the center of the plant dies off. To revive sad coneflowers, fall is the time to lift and divide.
Start by cutting back any existing roots and digging around the edges. Shake or rinse off any loose soil to make the roots easier to spot. Cut into the root ball with a pruning saw or sharp knife, leaving a healthy amount of roots on each section for quick reestablishment.
Water after replanting, and you’ll get to enjoy double the flowers the following season.
This delightful plant can be easily divided in the fall, reestablishing well and needing minimal transplant care.
Coral bells are sought-after additions to shade gardens where their colorful and patterned leaves shine, even when the plant is not in flower. With so much ornamental value, you’ll likely want to spread these plants around your backyard via division.
Fall is a great time to divide coral bells. The plants split easily and reestablish well, with transplant shock a limited concern.
Lift the plants and remove excess soil to look at the roots. You can generally split sections by hand but may want to cut larger sections off with a knife. Mulch after replanting to retain moisture and avoid stressing the roots.
This quick-growing perennial typically doesn’t need dividing for several years.
Lady’s mantle is a quick-growing perennial that lights up gardens with its sunny flowers. Maintaining vibrancy year after year, they typically don’t require dividing for a few years. But if your lady’s mantle has become larger than you hoped, you can use division to control growth.
The dividing process is the same as other clump-forming perennials. After digging up the plant, cut the roots into sections of around three or four, depending on the size of your plant. Plant soon after splitting into freshly prepared soil.
Water well and keep a close eye on soil conditions. They will need some extra moisture at this time to establish strong roots.
If this classic perennial plant is losing its luster due to overcrowding, division is the key to maintaining its health.
If you’re looking for a classic perennial to brighten your flower garden, Shasta daisy is the answer. The adorable flowers delight gardens in spring and summer but start to fade after a few years due to overcrowding.
Division is essential to Shasta daisy maintenance, improving airflow and removing damaged parts of the plant that may draw away energy from flowering.
When you lift the plant, identify parts of the clump that have died off in the center. Remove those and split the remaining healthy parts into sections.
If you prefer instant results over sowing seeds, consider dividing Veronicas in late summer to early fall.
Veronicas can often be propagated from seed, but collecting and sowing requires patience. For impatient gardeners like me who prefer instant results, dividing is the answer.
Late summer to early fall is an ideal time for dividing. It’s important to give the roots time to settle before any chance of frost. Also, water well and deeply during this time to help the roots grow deeply into the soil.
Replanting is an excellent opportunity to move the plants to a new area or even to plant into containers to spread their beauty.
To extend the lifespan of these colorful blooms and propagate them, consider dividing in the fall.
Gaillardia are commonly known as blanket flowers, producing bright daisy-like blooms that add a wonderful pop of warm color. Unfortunately, this color is short-lived, with plants lasting only a few years before they begin to die back.
Try dividing in the fall if you want to extend their lifespan and improve growth. This is also the best way to propagate these plants, as hybrid cultivars won’t produce true to seed.
After lifting, cut the clump into two or more sections depending on size. Give them a little extra space when replanting to allow new growth to spread.
Consider dividing these plants in the fall after the flowers have died back to improve flowering or propagate.
Dividing painted daisies in spring is typically recommended, but fall is also suitable after all the flowers have died back. You can divide to propagate the plants or to improve flowering if growth starts to slow.
Mature plants are suitable for splitting into about four sections. If you want the plant to be slightly larger, you can split it into two, although these will usually need dividing again much quicker than smaller clumps.
Dig and cut carefully to keep as many roots intact as possible. Healthy, established roots will deliver more flowers the following season.
When perennial coreopsis flowers decline after a few years, divide them in early fall to rejuvenate and improve flowering.
Perennial coreopsis blooms prolifically, producing adorable yellow flowers year after year.
Once you hit the three or four-year mark, you may notice the plant producing fewer flowers than usual. This is a sign that it’s time to divide.
In early fall, dig around the edges of the root system and lift the plant from the bottom with a spade. Separate into two or more sections, replanting with extra space or moving new divisions to containers to continue growing.
While dividing goldenrod is typically done in spring, it’s also possible to refresh the plant in the fall, especially if it has become large.
Goldenrod is a native perennial that’s usually divided in spring. However, you can divide them in fall to spread their beauty to other parts of the garden or boost old and tired growth.
These plants can become quite large after a few years of growth, so dividing may be tricky. Dig slowly around the base until the soil is loose enough to pull the entire plant. Use a hose to remove some old soil to closely examine the rhizome.
Cut the plant into sections and replant immediately at the same depth the plant was at previously. After a few weeks of establishment, the roots should be happily settled in.
While these plants can flower well for years, you can divide them to propagate or rejuvenate them after around five years.
A useful member of shade gardens for a pop of color, it’s hard not to fall in love with ligularia. These strong plants will flower prolifically for many years without trouble. Flowering may slow after around five years – an ideal dividing time.
That doesn’t mean you must wait five years or longer to split the plants. Dividing is also a great way to propagate mature plants to share them with neighbors or transplant them around your garden.
These moisture-lovers prefer cool weather, making fall an ideal time to divide. Keep up with watering for a few weeks after planting, as dried roots will increase stress.
Dividing yarrow in the fall or spring is an efficient way to propagate and rejuvenate these plants, promoting their vigor.
Many potential propagation methods exist when growing yarrow, but division delivers the quickest results. This is best done in the fall, but you can divide in spring if you miss the fall window.
The roots are not tough to divide and split readily when pulled apart. After lifting, you can pull smaller sections off to plant in pots or cut into the roots to separate larger sections. Plant those back into prepared soil immediately and water to establish strong roots.
Dividing yarrow not only gives you more plants, but it also helps make your existing plants more vigorous. Your yarrow will thank you for the extra space!
Splitting fast-growing ferns in early fall helps maintain plant health and tidiness.
Fast-growing ferns can quickly become overgrown and overcrowded. This impacts overall plant health and the tidiness of your garden. You can split your ferns in early fall rather than pulling them out completely or leaving them to die back.
Overgrown ferns can be tough and dense. To pull the plants and cut into the roots successfully, cutting back the fronds and lifting them using a spade is best. Cut the roots into two or four sections depending on size and replant.
You can plant each section in the same bed the fern was in previously or move some to containers for outdoor or indoor growth.
Revive Dianthus plants by dividing them every two to three years, ideally in spring, to promote healthy growth and flowering.
Sweet William is considered a short-lived perennial, but plants can be revived by diving every two or three years (depending on growth). Spring is the best time to do this to get ahead of flowering, or you can wait until the plant stops flowering in fall to lift them.
Dig into the soil five inches beyond the root zone. Lift the entire plant from the bottom using a spade, keeping as many roots attached as possible. Trim any damaged roots or leaves to encourage new and healthy growth before splitting the plant into as many sections as size allows.
After replanting, keep up with watering and add a layer of mulch if needed to retain moisture.
Split them into two sections to retain most of the root system and mulch after replanting.
Most lobelia species are grown as annuals. However, there are some perennial species, like the native cardinal flower (Lobelia cardinalis), that come back year after year. These are the types ready for dividing in fall or spring.
Like other short-lived perennials, lobelias will perform better when divided every two years or so. This will help the plant produce more green growth and stunning flowers rather than looking sparse and unhealthy.
It’s generally best to split these plants into two to keep as much of the root system attached to each section as possible. Also, mulch after replanting to protect sensitive new roots from temperature dips.
Divide Ajuga reptans in either fall or spring to control its vigorous spread.
Evident in its common name, Ajuga reptans has a reputation for spreading vigorously. It can become invasive in certain areas, especially when growth is not managed and controlled. One way to monitor the spread and keep the plant out of parts of your garden where it is not wanted is to divide.
Bugleweed can be divided in fall or spring. Lift the entire plant, including any spreading stolons, to ensure the area is completely clear. After splitting, replant one division back where you lifted it from and move the others to other parts of the garden or in containers.
Dividing is a great option if you’re looking for a fall garden activity to keep you in the garden as the warm season slows down. Not only does it increase your stock, but it also boosts growth for existing plants, improving flowering the following spring.