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  • Writer's pictureThe Rural Legend

How To Split Plants in Your Garden

spring flower garden with roses and white fence

Every spring, I have a regular routine of things I need to do to prepare my flowers beds and lawn. You can actually read all about that here! One extra thing I do that deserved its own post is splitting my perennials!

woman walking on stepping stones through the garden barefoot

Why split?

Splitting plants helps give you a thick lush landscape that will look more mature faster!

Splitting is actually really good for your plants because it helps stimulate new growth and manages their size. It additionally allows for more moisture and nutrients to be extracted from the soil when there aren't as many roots fighting for sustenance!

Splitting means FREE new plants! If there is a plant that thrives in your type of soil and amount of sunlight, embrace it and let it multiply! I have wasted WAY too much money on pretty plants that died after the first year.

It's fun to share plants you love with friends and family! Probably over 50% of the plants on our property came from my parents' yard!


What plants can I split?

The list is far too long to include here. The easiest way to find out if a plant in your yard can be split is to simply do a quick internet search! Plants in my yard that I split almost yearly are hosta, sedum, lambs ear, creeping jenny, coral bells, iris, and columbine.

purple bearded iris, scotch broom

When to Split?

Early spring when your plants begin to emerge an inch or two about the soil line is a great time to split. It will be much easier to cut through the plant with your spade or shovel.

For early spring blooms, it's best to split them AFTER their blooms are spent when they have new root growth.

flower bed with perennial summer flowers

How to do it

You will need a good spade and shovel, gardening gloves, and some arm power. I start by stabbing my spade straight through the center of the plant. You made need to step on the spade with your foot to pierce the roots. Once my spade is completely through the plant and roots, I wiggle it back and forth to separate the two halves further. Depending upon the size of the plant, you can continue to split into quarters or beyond, but don't split too small or you won't have enough roots for each plant to continue growing.

NOTE: while I have not tried this product, this root cutting shovel looks amazing for large plants!!!

Next, I take my shovel and pierce the soil at an angle about 3-4 inches from the plant. I don't want to cut off any roots right beside the plant so I make sure to keep some distance!

Pierce the soil from all sides until the plant and roots are loose enough to be lifted up out of the earth.

lamb's ear

Shake some of the soil loose but don't completely clean off the roots. You want some of that current soil to travel with your plant to its new home. NOTE: If you are splitting your plants to share with a friend, make sure to include some of your soil in a pot with the transplant! Have them add some of that soil to the hole when they plant in their beds.

Dig a hole for your transplant deep enough that all of the roots will be covered with soil. When digging your hole, make sure the dirt in the bottom of the hole is nice and loose so that roots will have an easier time growing. After adding your plant and covering it loosely with soil, make sure to water the area well!

NOTE: Do NOT choose a very hot, dry day to split. Your plants will not survive the transplant.

backyard at sunset with sunken fire pit patio fire pit

Have your own tip about splitting or have a question! Add it to the comments! And if you share your new transplanted plant babies on social media, make sure to tag me @therurallegend for a chance to be featured!

xoxo, L

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