How to Divide Peonies in the Winter


Peonies are perennials that bloom year after year from the same root system. A clump of peonies features large, colorful blooms and may last for up to 100 years. This lifespan means that peony plants become extremely large and may overwhelm a given planting site. Gardeners avoid overcrowding by digging up peony roots during their dormant period and dividing them. Although the best time for this division is September, you can dig up and divide peonies through winter into the spring.

Moderately Easy


Things You’ll Need
  • Quick-draining soil
  • Organic compost
  • Spade
  • Knife
  • Pruning shears
  • Mulch
    1. Divide and move peonies in the morning, when the air is cool and moist, to keep the roots of the plant from drying in midday heat.
    2. Prepare a new site before you begin, for a quick and easy transfer. Choose a new site that gets full sun all day, and amend the soil to a depth of 12 inches with a mixture of half quick-draining soil and half organic compost. Plan to plant new peony plants 3 to 4 inches apart, to give them adequate space for growth.
    3. Prune your established peony plant to within 2 to 3 inches of the ground, to help the plant conserve its resources during the process. Dig up the root system of the plant, but be careful not to damage any of the roots during this process. Pull the root system out of the ground.
    4. Brush the dirt from the root system so you can see it clearly, and look for natural divisions, where the root system is growing new systems. Cut the peony root ball at these natural divisions, but make sure that each section has three to five buds of its own and a full set of roots.
    5. Replace the original peony bush in its planting site, and move new peonies to the new planting sites. Plant them so that each bud has 1 to 2 inches of soil over it, and water each with 1 inch of water. Mulch the new peonies with 4 inches of straw or grass clippings, to keep them warm until spring.

How to Dig Up and Divide a Peony


Peonies are long-lived perennials that bloom in every color except blue and add brilliant life to the landscape for decades. Classified by flower forms — single, semi-double, double, Japanese and anemone — peonies produce show-stopping flowers in the spring, and continue to provide visual interest with dark green, glossy foliage until autumn arrives. While most peony cultivars require very little maintenance, older specimens may start to decline when root systems become crowded. The process of digging and dividing peonies gives the plant a new lease on life by giving divided clumps room to grow and flourish for many more years.

Moderately Easy


Things You’ll Need
  • Pruning snips
  • Garden spade
  • Organic material
  • Mulch
    1. Choose new planting sites for divided peonies before beginning to dig up the existing plant. The division should take place in September, after peony plants have entered dormancy for the season.
    2. Amend soil in new planting locations with organic materials, including organic compost, coarse sand, grass clippings and shredded bark to create a well-draining, nutrient-rich base for the transplants.
    3. Cut foliage from the existing peony plant, leaving at least 1 inch of stem above the soil line.
    4. Dig around and under the existing plant, starting several inches out from the stems to preserve as much of the root system as possible.
    5. Lift the plant up and shake it gently to break away any loose soil clumps.
    6. Cut the root clump into four to six sections, depending on the size of the clump, with a garden spade. Each division should contain at least three to five buds, or eyes, and a healthy portion of roots.
    7. Move divided clumps to their new location immediately. Dig a hole large enough to accommodate the new clump with enough room so that the eyes are 1 to 2 inches below the soil line.
    8. Place the clump in the new hole, with eyes situated upright and cover with soil, packing it around the clump to remove air pockets. After backfill is completed, water each newly planted clump thoroughly to settle the soil.
    9. Apply 2 to 3 inches of mulch over the newly planted divisions in late fall to protect the peonies from constant freezing and thawing. Remove mulch in the spring before sprouts appear above the soil.

Tips & Warnings

  • If peony divisions will be planted together in a group, allow at least 3 to 4 feet between plants.

  • Use only clean garden tools when working with plants to prevent the spread of disease.

  • Transplanted divisions may take up to two years to produce blooms again.

How to Divide Daylilies


Daylilies are the backbone of the perennial garden flowerbed. They are tough, low-maintenance, adaptable plants that thrive almost everywhere. These flowers bloom best in full sun and when they are divided to encourage growth. Also, dividing them is a great way to build your garden with minimum cost. Here’s how to get more blooms for the buck.

Moderately Easy


Things You’ll Need
  • Two garden pitchforks
  • Shovel
  • Shears
  • Water
  • Mulch or other organic material
    1. Place a garden fork about six to 12 inches away from the center of the daylily clump. Push down gently and then pull the clump out of the soil. Daylily clumps may just pop out, but work around the entire plant with the fork until the plant has been released.
    2. Inspect clump and roots for any disease or insect damage.
    3. Place daylily clump on the ground. Insert two garden forks into the clump perpendicular to the ground and gently pull them apart, forming two clumps. Repeat process until desired number of plants has been reached.
    4. Cut divided foliage down to six to eight inches.
    5. Prepare the bed or hole for the new daylilies. Dig a shallow hole. They do not need much depth to grow well.
    6. Place the new plant in the hole and fill with original soil. Carefully pat down the soil.
    7. Water the new plant deeply and cover with two to three inches of mulch or other organic material to help retain moisture.

Tips & Warnings

  • Home gardeners on a budget should consider buying just one- or two-gallon containers of their favorite daylily. They can be divided right from the pot for instant bonus plants.

  • Daylilies can be divided anytime during the growing season, but the best time is after they have finished blooming in late summer. This gives the new plants plenty of time to establish roots before frost.

  • A shovel can also be used to cut stubborn daylily clumps apart. Place a clump on the ground, insert the shovel in the center and push down. Often you can just use your hands to divide small plants.

How To Divide Daylilies & Irises


Daylilies and irises flower freely when they are first planted. But after a few years the plants can become dense and crowded. Eventually, the the plant suffers and loses energy. Less energy means fewer flowers. Dividing the plants is good for the plant and the gardener. Irises and daylilies will thrive and you will have more plants.



Things You’ll Need
  • Established daylilies
  • Established Iris
  • Garden fork
  • Long handled garden spade
  • Sturdy work boots
  • Sturdy large screwdriver
  • Garden scissors
  • Sharp knife
  • Fertilizer
  • Mulch


  1. Divide daylilies in spring in cold-winter climates and in the fall in the south. Dig up large clumps of mature daylily plant with a garden fork and spade. Start with a spade to dig around the plant, then remove the plant with a garden fork to avoid damaging the tuberous roots.
  2. Shake off any soil clinging to the roots and lay the plant on the ground. If your plant is very large, halve the plant using a garden fork or a spade. Put the tool on top of the root ball, at the base of the foliage, and cleave or pry the mass apart.
  3. Make individual subsections from the larger plant chunks. Drive a screwdriver down between the natural divisions of leaf clusters. Break the clusters cleanly apart.
  4. Discard damaged or withered sections. Cut leaves on newly sectioned plants to 3 inches and trim any damaged roots. Dig new holes for the sections and form a soil mound in the center of each hole.
  5. Center each the new sections in their holes on top of the mounds. Spread out the roots evenly down the mound so they reach down to the bottom of the planting hole. Mix mulch and fertilizer back in with the displaced soil, and back fill the hole. Tamp down the soil firmly with your fingers.


  1. Mature iris plants

    Use a garden fork to dig up the large iris clump. Shake off all the dirt clinging to the rhizomes. Wash off all remaining soil with a garden hose.

  2. Use a sharp kitchen knife and start sectioning off pieces of the iris. Start at the edge of the clump. Try and cut where the rhizome has a natural indentation, between leaf fans. Each piece should include a fan of leaves on a 4- to 6-inch length of rhizome with some small roots growing off the bottom.
  3. Trim the leaves to 3 inches. Trim off any damaged parts of the rhizomes. Let the clumps dry in the sun for a few hours. Dig up the old iris bed. Add rich fertilizer and mulch.
  4. Dig individual holes in the beds for each section. In each hole, create a long mound. Place each iris section on its mound. The rhizome should lay on top of the mound, with any roots spread down the sides. Back fill the hole, covering the roots. The rhizome will still be visible just above the ground. Water the bed well and keep it moist.

Tips & Warnings

  • Iris sections grow in the direction leaves are located. On hillsides, plant iris with the leaf end pointed uphill.

  • New varieties of daylilies include apricot and peach colors in addition to the standard orange and gold.

  • Always take caution when handling sharp instruments, particularly in wet, slippery conditions.

How to Divide Stella de Oro Daylilies

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Few perennials are as rewarding to grow as Stella de Oro daylilies. These trouble-free plants with their prolific, golden-yellow flowers are one of the most popular daylilies of all time, according to the University of Vermont. Grow them in full sun or light shade. Their small size, 12 to 16 inches tall by 24 inches wide, makes them suitable for both garden beds and containers. Keep them deadheaded to encourage rebloom. Stella de Oro daylilies are easily divided.



Things You’ll Need
  • Pruners or scissors
  • Spade or shovel
  • 2 spading forks
  • Organic material
  • Balanced flower garden fertilizer
  • Mulch
    1. Stella de Oro daylilies are easy to divide.

      Water your Stella de Oro daylily the day before dividing. This makes the ground easier to dig and minimizes root damage.

    2. Cut leaves back to five to six inches with the pruners or scissors to compensate for root loss when the plants are dug.
    3. Prepare holes for the new divisions. Dig holes one-foot deep and two-feet wide. Space the holes 18 to 24 inches apart.
    4. Amend the soil with organic material, if necessary. Add fertilizer to the soil and mix well. Follow package directions carefully for the correct application rate.
    5. Create a 10-inch-high mound in the bottom of the planting hole.
    6. Dig the daylily you want to divide out of the soil with a spading fork.
    7. Renew the soil in the old planting spot by adding organic material and fertilizer. Mix well.
    8. Loosen soil from the plant roots with your fingers. Use a garden hose to wash away the rest.
    9. Insert two spading forks back-to-back through the center of the clump and push the handles away from each other. This untangles the roots with minimal damage. Ensure that there are two to three green, leafy shoots in each division you make. Repeat until you have as many divisions as desired.
    10. Place each division on top of the mound in a prepared planting hole, spreading the roots evenly over the mound. Adjust the height of the mound so that the crown of the plant is one inch below soil level.
    11. Cover the roots and crown with the prepared soil, making sure the crown of the plant sits firmly on the mound, with no air pocket underneath. Firm the soil with your hands. Water well to settle the soil.
    12. Mulch around the daylily to suppress weeds and conserve moisture. Mulch should be one to two inches thick. Keep the mulch one inch away from the plant.
    13. Water the newly planted daylily enough to keep the soil moist but not soggy. It takes six to eight weeks for the root system to recover.

Tips & Warnings

  • If you don’t have two spading forks available for separating plant roots, gently tease the roots apart with your hands. If necessary, slice through the roots with a sharp knife.

  • You can divide the daylily into sections as small as two or three leaf fans. Small sections need more time to resume blooming than larger divisions.

How to Plant & Divide Irises


Irises are perennial plants that grow from rhizomes. These structures are thick underground stems from which roots sprout downward and plant stalks shoot upward, breaking through the ground. In the case of irises, rhizomes resemble sweet potatoes. As the plant gets older, its rhizomes multiply underground. Too many of them in one hole cause the iris to decline and stop blooming. For this reason, plan to divide these perennials every three to five years to always have vigorous plants. Separate the rhizomes after the iris flowers, in late summer to early autumn.



Things You’ll Need
  • Garden fork
  • Garden knife
  • Trash can
  • Garden scissors
  • Spray bottle
  • Shovel
  • Pickax
  • Organic mulch
    1. Loosen the soil around the iris plant with a garden fork, inserting it under the shallow cluster of rhizomes and pulling the entire plant out. Place it on the soil surface.
    2. Shake the plant gently and use your fingers to get rid of excess soil around the roots so you see what you’re cutting.
    3. Take a garden knife and cut the rhizomes growing on the outside of the clump to separate them from the one in the middle. Discard the central rhizome, as it’s the original one that’s now old and has lost its vigor.
    4. Feel each rhizome in the group with your fingers. If they are firm, retain them. Discard the ones that are soft, like stale root vegetables, or that have discolorations.
    5. Trim the roots of the healthy rhizomes to 2 inches, and prune any brown foliage. Place the rhizomes in the shade. Mist them with water or cover them with moist paper towels or a moist clean piece of cloth to keep them from drying out.
    6. Amend the current iris bed by incorporating 2 inches of compost into the soil to a depth of 4 to 6 inches. Or find a new sunny location in your yard for your iris divisions and enrich it with compost. Expand the size of your planting site to accommodate the rhizomes growing next to, not on top of, each other. Perform this step with a shovel and pickax.
    7. Dig shallow furrows to hold the rhizomes barely below the surface, covered by a thin layer of soil.
    8. Plant the rhizomes with roots pointing down and foliage above the ground surface. Push topsoil over and around the base of each new plant. Firm the ground with your hands.
    9. Irrigate your new irises with 1 inch of water immediately after planting the divisions. Continue to give them 1 inch of water weekly until new growth begins.
    10. Apply a 2- to 3-inch-deep layer of wood chips or pine needles around the base of each iris to choke weeds and slow water evaporation. Replenish the mulch ring as the matter decomposes.

How to Divide Shasta Daisy Plants


Shasta daisies are an old-fashioned favorite in the garden. Both novice and experienced gardeners will easily grow a beautiful clump of shasta daisies in a sunny growing area that will return year after year to provide lovely summer blooms. As the years go by, shasta daisies will expand and many gardeners like to divide them to create new shasta daisy plants. You can easily divide shasta daisy plants in the spring when they first sprout from the soil.

Moderately Easy


things you’ll need:
  • Shasta daisy plants
  • Shovel
  • Utility knife
  • Garden spade
  • Compost
    1. Watch for the first growth of the shasta daisies in the spring. When you see this growth, dig with the shovel to remove the entire shasta daisy clump. Make sure you keep the roots intact as you remove the clump from the soil. Place the clump onto the ground nearby.
    2. Use your hands or a utility knife to separate the outer portions of the plant (foliage and entire root systems together). As long as the divided portions of the clump have both foliage and roots, they should grow.
    3. Examine the inner portions of the clump to see if there are any parts that appear old and woody. If you find portions like this, cut them out and discard them.
    4. Prepare a new growing area by working the soil with the garden spade down to a depth of 8 inches. Add 2 inches of compost to the top of the soil to improve the soil composition and work this in well with the spade.
    5. Dig holes for each shasta daisy plant that are 18 inches apart and deep enough to accommodate the root systems with the plants being at the same depth as they were previously growing.
    6. Place the newly divided shasta daisy plants into the prepared holes and fill soil in around the roots. Tamp down the soil around the plants with your hands and provide a generous amount of water for each shasta daisy plant.

How to Divide a Purple Coneflower


Purple coneflower (Echinacea purpurea) is an old-fashioned perennial bloomer with bright daisy-like blooms with distinctive, dark purple centers. Drought- and heat-tolerant, purple coneflower isn’t fussy, and once established, will decorate your garden from early summer until autumn for many years. Purple coneflower benefits from division when the center of the plant outgrows its boundaries, or when the center of the plant begins to look old and unproductive. Divide purple coneflower in autumn.



things you’ll need:
  • Sharp spade or shovel
  • Sharp knife
  • Trowel
    1. Dig around the entire circumference of the purple coneflower clump with a sharp spade or shovel. Loosen the roots by rocking the spade or shovel back and forth as you go.
    2. Insert the spade deeply under the plant, then lift the entire clump of purple coneflowers. Retain as many of the roots as possible.
    3. Brush off the excess dirt so you can see the roots. Use your spade or a sharp knife to cut the clump into smaller clumps. Clumps large enough to fit in a quart- or gallon-sized container will have plenty of root and will establish easily in a new location. Place the small clumps in a cool, shady spot until you’ve prepared the new planting location.
    4. Remove and discard any old, woody sections from the center of the original clump. Replant the clump and water deeply.
    5. Prepare a sunny spot with well-drained soil for the small purple coneflower clumps. In hot, sunny climates, purple coneflower benefits from light shade during the afternoon.
    6. Dig a hole large enough to accommodate the clump. Plant each clump at the same soil depth as it was planted in its original spot.
    7. Water the newly-planted purple coneflower plants immediately. Keep the soil lightly moist until new shoots emerge. Thereafter, purple coneflower is drought-tolerant but will benefit from a deep watering every few days during hot, dry weather. Water deeply enough to saturate the roots, then don’t water again until the soil dries.

Tips & Warnings

  • Pinch wilted coneflower blooms, and your plant will continue to flower until autumn.

  • In some areas, purple coneflower can become invasive. Pinching blooms as they wilt will prevent the plant from dropping seeds on the ground.

How to Divide a Bleeding Heart Bush


Bleeding Heart is a great plant to have in your garden; it does well in sun or in shade, is tolerant to drought and thrives with damp feet. Although its blossoming time is short, the foliage stays green all summer long, providing texture and color to the background of your summer and fall flowers. Dividing bleeding heart is worth the effort, since it’s easy to do and the rewards are more and more bleeding heart plants to enjoy every year.



things you’ll need:
  • Garden spade
    1. Decide where you want to add new plants. Choose a spot towards the back of your flower bed; the foliage remains pretty long after the blossoms have faded. Bleeding heart is best divided in late summer (after Labor Day) so that it has time to grow roots before the ground freezes. Dig a hole at least 6 inches deep in the new locations. Remove any rocks that your spade locates.
    2. Cut all of the foliage off the bleeding heart plant so that you can see the root mound. The foliage can be thrown in the compost bin, if you have one.
    3. Make a deep circle around the root mound with the spade at least 6 inches deep. Drive the spade straight down through the middle of the root mound. You should not divide one plant into more than fourths as the plant needs enough of its roots to start over in the new location.
    4. Use the spade to divide the plant. Carefully separate the root into four new root balls. If you want to keep the original plant’s location, just leave one of the four roots and cover it back up with soil.
    5. Plant each one of the root balls into the new hole locations and re-cover the roots with soil. Water all of the new plants thoroughly.

Tips & Warnings

  • Alternating colors of Bleeding Heart (white and pink) is a great way to bring attention to your spring garden. To add texture, plant Lavender or Silver Mound in front of the Bleeding Heart plants.

  • The best time to fertilize Bleeding Heart is right after it blooms.

  • If you try to pull a Bleeding Heart out of the ground by its branches, they will break off. Use the spade to separate and pull out the root.

How to Divide a Bird of Paradise Plant

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The bird of paradise is a showy bloomer that thrives in tropical climates. Propagation from seed is difficult, but fortunately full grown plants can be divided to produce two separate plants. Separation is not harmful to the plant as the roots are not easily damaged. Careful handling allows the gardener to have two flowering beauties with minimal effort.

Difficulty: Easy


Things You’ll Need:

  • Bird of paradise plant
  • Shovel or trowel
  • Clean, sharp knife
  • Rooting hormone
  • Small pots
  • Sterile potting soil
  • Water
  1. Remove the bird of paradise from its pot and gently shake the excess dirt off of the roots. If the plant is in the ground, dig a wide hole around the plant’s roots, remove the plant from the ground and gently shake off the excess soil.

  2. Identify the individual clumps that represent the two different root systems.

  3. Divide the bird of paradise plant by cutting the two root clumps in two with a clean, sharp knife.

  4. Sprinkle the two severed root clumps with rooting hormone.

  5. Plant each bird of paradise plant in its own sterile pot in sterile potting soil.

  6. Wait to water the newly potted bird of paradise plants for two weeks to give the newly cut roots a chance to "cure." After two weeks, water moderately.

Tips & Warnings

  • Growing bird of paradise is easiest in small pots.