Saturday, 6 July 2013


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Division is as simple as it sounds.  You make new plants by simply dividing the parent plant into smaller parts.  The size of the parent plant determines how many plants you will get, but usually three or four new plants can be achieved.

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Division works on plants that have multiple stems (crown) as each new plant has enough stems and roots to create a larger plant.  Division is used on clump forming plants and works particularly well on herbaceous plants, which can get old and woody after three years. It does not work on single stemmed plants.

Plants propagated by division will always be clones of the parent plant and so will exhibit identical habits and characteristics. This can be useful when filling out borders, increasing your plant stock or replacing tired plants.

How to propagate using division 

There are several ways that you can divide your plants but all are carried out at the same time; early spring or late autumn.  This is because the plant is dormant during this period and the roots are inactive. 

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First of all ensure that the parent plant you are going to divide is in perfect health.  The child plant will be a clone and so will exhibit all the traits of its parent.  Any low vigour or pests and diseases will be passed on to your new plants.

Dig up the parent plant from the soil in one clump. With a spade cut downwards to separate into two pieces.  You can further cut these pieces in half, depending on the size of your parent plant.  Remove any dead, diseased or old plant material from the centre of the plant. 

Depending on the type and size of plant you are dividing you may wish instead to use two forks back to back in the centre of the plant and lever the clump apart.  This ensures that you do not sever any roots or the main crown which may happen when using the spade. You can then pull apart the clump with your hands. On tough rooted plants you may find that an old knife works well too.

The key to successful division is to ensure that each section you divide has a good crown and root ball, as the new plant will establish from this genetic material.  Ensure each division has at least two or three sprouts in its crown.

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If you do not want to disturb or reduce the parent plant too much you can leave it in situ and remove a few divisions from the outside of the plant.  Scrape back the soil from the edge of the plant to select the division you want.  Take a spade and cut a square around the part to be divided in order to sever the plant roots.  Lift the division and replant in its new position.

You can replant each division back into your garden or plant up in pots for growing on. Ensure that you plant them back at the same soil level in the bed as they were originally.  Water well after planting and regularly during dry spells to ensure that the plants establish.

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