Divide these plants with a spade or pitchfork: Get our latest tips, how-to articles, and instructional videos sent to your inbox. It is safer to work with all silvery, hairy plants in the spring rather than in the fall. The success of any transplanted division depends on its root system. By slowly drawing the handles away from each other, I can pry the rootball apart without breaking a sweat. All rights reserved (About Us). Slice through the top 3 or 4 inches of soil around the bed with a clean, sharp spade if the lamb's ear is sprawling outside its boundaries. ", Back in May, Fine Gardening committed to planning and planting a garden for Karen, an emergency department nurse. When using a spade to divide, I lay the rootball on its side and position the spade in the center of the rootball’s crown. I replant only plump and healthy-looking rhizomes and tubers and discard those that are old, withered, or diseased. This perennial flower thrives in poor soil that is well-drained and has a slightly acidic soil pH. Dividing a plant inevitably damages it. Dear Carol: We have a lamb's-ears plant about 3 feet in diameter, is about three years old and very healthy. If a plant looks crowded and is performing poorly, I know it probably needs to be divided. Perennials with fibrous root systems and clumping growth habits are collectively known as clumpers. Local astronomers take telescopes up to look at the stars. Lamb's Ear Care. Some sun exposure is inevitable, but I try to do most of my dividing when the weatherman is calling for overcast skies. A. I use a sharp knife or pruning shears to cut rhizomes and tubers into pieces that contain at least one growth point or dormant bud. In desert areas and high-heat locations, it can profit from part shade. But propagation by root division is more than a cost-efficient way to increase my collection of perennials; it also promotes vigor by stimulating new growth both below- and aboveground. And while many perennials can be divided in either early spring or early fall, some are very picky. To safeguard against that, spring division and transplanting is the only option. The material on this site may not be reproduced, distributed, transmitted, cached or otherwise used, except with the prior written permission of Advance Local. Separate small clumpers like lamb’s ears into pieces by hand. It was a small way to say thank you for the efforts…. If a perennial is thriving and continuing to flower year after year, my motto is: “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.”. Subscribe to syracuse.com. The rootballs of some perennials can be simply pulled apart with your hands; others need to be sliced with a spade or even cut with a saw. I don't want to pull up the plants, just trim them back and tidy up the flowerbed. This feature has been temporarily disabled during the beta site preview. Plants that grow from rhizomes and tubers are also good candidates for propagation by division. It’s hard enough finding a plant that requires not all that much sunlight, let alone one that has…, It's about time we had something to celebrate! You must be a magazine subscriber to access this feature. When dividing perennials, timing and technique are important. This removes old growth and gives you a chance to thin out the crowded growth to keep the leaves drier. In this situation, with the lamb's-ears, Stachys byzantina, the plant can be divided to make more plants, to cover a wider area or perhaps to share. Two other tactics to help minimize water loss through transpiration are trimming foliage back to be in proportion with roots and shielding plants from bright sun with small lath structures until they are acclimated to their new environment. You're growing a gardener as well as a garden and it's useful to know just what can happen. ), primroses (Primula spp. ), and columbines ( Aquilegia spp.) I like the luxury of having a supply of plants to draw on to start a new bed or to fill in an occasional gap in my garden. : The timing of most gardening jobs is dictated by the climate and the weather, so the guidelines differ widely in different places. The gardener's job is to avoid unnecessary interference and to help the plant look and perform its best, when possible. Pieces this size are big enough to reestablish themselves quickly, but small enough to not need division again for a while. The light color protects the plant from getting too hot. Ornamental grasses respond better to spring division, while astilbes, irises, and peonies are partial to fall division. Instead, I consider a plant’s shape and condition before taking a spade to it. A single asterisk indicates that division should take place after the plant flowers. A 1-inch-wide rhizome should be buried about 1/2 inch deep. Some divisions fail because they don’t have sufficient roots to support their foliage. Send questions to her at features@syracuse.com or in c/o Stars, P.O. We know this year has been tough, and this will surely be a very different holiday for many people. Dear D.B. The flower stalks were just beautiful. Get complete site access to decades of expert advice, regional content, and more, plus the print magazine. Smaller clumpers like bugleweed (Ajuga reptans), lamb’s ears (Stachys byzantina), lungworts (Pulmonaria spp. Lamb's-ears rots easily anyway, so it's better to divide it in the spring, when it can recover faster. Having dividable perennials in the garden is like having money in the bank. That way the plant's growth will be minimally disturbed. Divide and Conquer: How to Divide and Multiply Perennials, Off With Their Heads: Deadheading Perennials, Gardening Gift Ideas for the Holidays 2020, A Fool and His Garden | Letter from the Editor, Dahlias Don’t Ask Much | Letter from the Editor, It’s Just Business | Letter from the Editor, Natural Stone and Ground Covers Are a Great Combination. Once I’ve got the rhizomes or tubers out of the ground, I shake or wash off the soil so I can see what I’m working with. I space rhizome and tuber divisions 10 to 12 inches apart to give them room to expand. Rhizomes are thick, fleshy stems that grow horizontally just beneath the surface of the soil, while tubers are swollen sections of stems or roots. Even cutting them back in the fall can leave wounds where rot organisms get in and turn the plant to slime resembling something living at the bottom of the vegetable drawer in the refrigerator. Smaller clumpers like bugleweed ( Ajuga reptans ), lamb’s ears ( Stachys byzantina ), lungworts ( Pulmonaria spp. Lamb's-ears rots easily anyway, so it's better to divide it in the spring, when it can recover faster. THE HIGH LINE, New York Cityas newest park, was an obsolete elevated railway on the West Side of Manhattan that was due to be torn down. They divide and transplant very easily. I can shake off excess dirt, but I can’t paste severed roots back on. Lift a section of plant with the attached roots and soil and plant it somewhere else. Since I’m not blessed with forearms the size of Popeye’s or clawlike fingers, I rely on tools like a spade, two pitchforks, and a handsaw to divide larger clumpers like daylilies (Hemerocallis cvs.) Experimentation is part of the learning process. Early spring and early fall are the best times of the year to divide perennials to provide transplants with enough time to devote to root growth before the hot or cold weather sets in. Note to readers: if you purchase something through one of our affiliate links we may earn a commission. Answered by Nikki on May 21, 2012 Certified Expert . Registration on or use of this site constitutes acceptance of our User Agreement, Privacy Policy and Cookie Statement, and Your California Privacy Rights (each updated 1/1/20). Tubers should be planted in the soil with the growth point or dormant bud just peeking out of the ground. But then we get to the long, cold, wet winter part. Propagation by division also allows me to have a cache of plants available for bartering with my gardening pals. There are always exceptions. It was saved and made into a walkway featuring flowers and grasses native to the island. How/when can I divide “lamb’s ear”? Some clumpers, like astilbes and lilyturf, form tough root systems that can’t be divided with a spade or pitchfork. Take a shovel and drive it into the clump. Rhizomes should be planted no deeper than half their width. Propagating Lamb's Ear . There are too many variables. Many of them gave good instruction on how to divide the plants, but no one ever mentioned in what season you do this. ), primroses ( Primula spp. and larger grasses. and cvs. Central New York has a short growing season and a long, cold, wet winter. "If it ain’t broke, do not fix it" is also my motto. To approximate the size of a rootball, I place the tip of my spade at the base of the plant and make a mark in the soil at the end of the spade’s head.