Divide to cover ground faster

To cover more ground more quickly, learn to divide perennials. Then, think small.

A perennial plant increases in size more quickly when it is split since more roots are freed to grow outward from the clump.

This hardy hibiscus (H. moscheutos hybrid) will grow outward from its 75 inch circumference to cover about 7 square feet next year.

If split in two along the blue line – it takes a saw to part such a woody clump but while we have it out of the ground, why not? – each clump could cover four square feet.

Split into quarters, each could cover three square feet. The four would immediately cover an area nearly twice that of the original plant. and grow quickly beyond.

Hardy hibiscus. (H. moscheutos hybrid)

Hardy hibiscus. (H. moscheutos hybrid)

The speed of hibiscus’ spread may be purely academic in most gardens, where there may be room for just one plant of such size.

Plants of smaller scale are a different story.

The gray-green rounds along the left edge of this bed are wooly thyme (Thymus pseudolanuginosus). Wooly thyme is one of our favorite groundcovers for areas that are occasionally trod or driven upon.

The gray-green rounds along the left edge of this bed are wooly thyme (Thymus pseudolanuginosus). Wooly thyme is one of our favorite groundcovers for areas that are occasionally trod or driven upon.

We began summer with one pot of wooly thyme. After three months, the original plant had increased so that we could divide from it the five pieces in this photo. Each is as large as the original plant.

Given room to grow on all sides as you see here, each piece will increase sixfold again. It may be that as soon as next June we can expand the bed edge, divide again and net enough thyme to cover the ground halfway to the pavement. That would mean one pot of thyme had managed to cover about 60 square feet. We might be halfway to our goal of a no-mow lawn alternative for the price of one perennial plus our dividing time.

Divide in early fall

You can divide any time. Early fall is the best time to divide perennials. Everything can be divided.

Dividing webinar, other resources

Join us for our free webinar, Dividing Perennials. It’s all the how-to you need plus live Q&A and it happens on Saturday, October 3 from 8:30-10:00 a.m.

Or search GardenAtoZ.org for “divide’ to find the many illustrated articles we have posted on the topic. Have fun, save money, cover ground!

 

To get you started:

Hellebore Divided

Divide spring bulbs: Spreading Spring Color

Native turtlehead and queen of the prairie divided