Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Fall Hosta Dividing

For me one of the joys of gardening is dividing plants and seeing one plant suddenly become multiple plants to either share with family and friends or move into other spaces in the garden. Depending on the perennial, fall can be a perfect time to make divisions. This past weekend I took on the task of dividing five large hosta plants in my garden.

Hostas can be divided in either spring or fall. I prefer late summer/early fall. August or early September is ideal and in the NW I find that I can even push it out a bit further. You want a good 30 days before the first frost date when you transplant. In my area each winter, on average, my risk of frost is from November 16 through March 10.Almost certainly, however, I will receive frost from December 7 through February 13 and I am almost guaranteed not get frost from April 4 through October 28. The conditions then are more favorable to rapid root growth. The soil is warm and the air is more humid than in the spring.

I have learned from experience not to be overly concerned about dividing plants the “right way”. Not to say that I have not killed a few plants over the years. But for the most part if you follow simple common sense guidelines about when to transplant, how to divide,  keep the transplants moist and just the right tools and your newly divided plants will generally do well.

The only danger in dividing hostas in August is excessive heat or extended drought. Keep newly divided hostas wet. Do not let them dry out for the first two weeks. Hostas divided in August will come up next spring with more divisions, better positioned leaves and well established root systems. It’s a tough job but well worth the effort and your hostas will thank you in the spring as will any family or friends that may become recipients of the new plants.

I actually created a spot in the garden to plant all the newly divided plants in the ground as opposed to pots and then in the spring I transfer them to just the right spot in the garden.  The first picture is the spot before I cleaned it up a bit and the second is after the clean up was complete and ready for my transplants!

So here are a few pictures I took of the process and one sweet picture of our girl Maggie picking raspberries!  I could not resist sharing!

The process of digging up and dividing is pretty self explanatory from the pictures below.  If the hostas are big the like the one's I dug up it can be a lot of work as the clumps are quite heavy and can be difficult to divide. I start with a pitch folk spade to dig them up.


As you can see from the pictures above the roots are pretty dense and can be hard to cut. In this case I use a pruning saw to get through the roots.  I have also used a flat shovel in some cases.

So with a little elbow grease my one big hosta is now five individual plants. The picture below shows them planted in the new bed.  Don't worry to much about how they look - next spring they will be wonderful. Just remember to keep them wet for the first couple weeks following division.

This is the space that was once filled with several hosta plants.  I may move a few back here next spring but in the mean time I now have a new bed that with a bit of work will be ready for planting spring bulbs!

Happy gardening!


1 comment:

  1. Great job. Your yard is picture perfect as always. I don't know how you pack it all into one day. M