Does your garden have holes in it at the moment? Not actual holes in the ground you understand, but holes nonetheless. Are the borders are looking bare, with whacking great patches of soil with nothing in them? Mine certainly are, and it’s not very uplifting to look at!
Gaps in your borders are perfectly normal for this time of year, because lots of plants are in their dormant phase until the weather warms up and they start to put on new growth. However, you can use it as an opportunity to take stock and make some changes that will plug those gaps come spring and summer. And you can do it without spending a penny too.
Lifting and dividing plants while they are dormant in late winter or early spring causes less stress on the plant, and gives them time to re-establish before the growing season starts. You can do this with pretty much any perennial plants (ones that die back and come again year after year), but make sure the original plant is a decent size before you start chopping it up. Here’s how to make yourself new, free plants.
Start by lifting the plant carefully out of the soil; be careful not to damage the roots. Shake off loose soil around the roots and trim off any dead stems.
If the plant has fibrous roots like this geranium, you can divide it with two forks, placed back-to-back near the plant’s middle. Ease the handles back and forth to separate the two sections.
If your original plant is a whopper keep repeating this process. Each new section needs some healthy growth or bud and a decent section of roots; don’t go too small as it will take a long time for the plants to get established.
Try to replant your divisions as soon as possible so they don’t dry out. Make sure you leave enough space around each plant for it to grow into, and water at the base straight after planting. Keep your eye on them and water well until they are established.
This method of dividing perennials is a brilliant way to increase your plants without spending any money. It’s also great if you know anyone who is getting started on a new garden or border and needs some free plants – I love the idea of plants from my garden reaching out into new plots and giving other people enjoyment.
Do you think you’ll be giving dividing a go this spring? Let me know what free plants you create!