How To Divide Perennial Plants

2 Materials
1 Hour

Did you know that dividing perennial plants in your garden not only keeps your plants healthy but can save you money as well? I’ll show you the process of dividing perennial plants, and the benefits it brings.

You can see more gardening tips here.

Benefits to Dividing Perennials

There are so many benefits to dividing the perennials in your garden.

  • You are creating additional plants that can be used in other spaces throughout your yard. This is guaranteed to save you money.
  • You are creating more space for roots to grow and absorb nutrients and water.
  • Helps manage the size of the plant.
  • Stimulates new growth
  • This process keeps your plants healthy, while keeping your garden from looking overgrown and messy.
  • Extra perennials can be given as gifts to a friend or neighbor.

How To Know If Your Plant Can Be Split

Any perennial plant that spreads from a central crown, and has a clumping growth, can be divided. It involves splitting and dividing the crown and root ball. When plants have taproots, they usually propagate through cuttings or seeds, rather than by splitting the plant apart.

Primroses that have been divided

The Best Time to Divide Your Perennial Plants

When to divide a plant, and how often, depends on the type of plant and the climate. Most guidelines are between 3-5 years, but I divide my perennials when they look like they are overcrowding my garden.

Divided primroses

Most plants can be divided in early spring or fall. Spring and summer flowering plants are usually divided in the fall. That way, plants have more time to set new roots before they grow in the heat. I like splitting my plants in the spring, because the new growth is lower to the ground, and there is less growth to manage.


Some plants don’t respond well to their roots being disturbed. Because of this, it’s best to divide the perennial while it’s dormant, which will reduce the effects of shock from transplanting.

Split your perennials in the cooler weather, when the soil is warmer than the air, for at least part of a 24-hour period. Mornings are usually a great time to plant.

Experts do not recommend splitting a plant that is still blooming.

Autumn Joy Sedum

How to Divide Your Plant

Here are the step-by-step instructions for dividing your perennials.

Autumn Joy Sedum that has been divided

Step 1

Dig the entire perennial parent plant out of the ground with a spade, fork or shovel, depending on the plant.


Step 2

Gently lift the plant out of the ground, removing any loose dirt around the roots.

Divided daylilies

Step 3

Carefully divide the crown and root ball into two or more sections, depending on the size. There are different methods depending on the plant…

  • Gently pull the roots apart with your hands 
  • Cut the roots with a sharp knife or spade 
  • Put 2 forks in the center of the clump, back to back, and pull the forks apart.

Each division should have 3-5 vigorous shoots and a healthy supply of roots. Keep these divisions shaded and moist until they are replanted.

Step 4

Place the new plant into a hole that is as wide as its roots when spread out. Transplant your divisions in your garden, or gift some of your new splits to a friend or neighbor.

Keep in mind that you can reduce the shock that the division and transplanting process creates by cutting the plant back before you transplant back into the ground.

Candytuft that has been divided

Perennials to Divide by Hand

  • Columbine
  • Hellebore
  • Lady’s Mantle
  • Lambs Ear
  • Primrose
  • Pansy
  • Yarrow

Perennials to Divide with a Spade

  • Aster
  • Black-eyed Susan
  • Coneflower
  • Daisy
  • Daylilly
  • Phlox
  • Hosta

Perennials to Cut up Rhizomes and Tubers with Knife

  • Calla lily
  • Dahlia
  • Iris
  • Lily-of-the-Valley

Peonies need to be sliced apart with a handsaw, because they have woody crowns.

Do not divide woody plants such as lavender and rosemary.

Dividing perennials in your yard keep your plants healthy, prevents overcrowding and keeps your garden looking clean and orderly . It’s a great way to save money, because you are basically shopping from your garden!

Suggested materials:

  • Spade   (Home Depot)
  • Gardening fork   (Home Depot)

Shiplap and Shells
Want more details about this and other DIY projects? Check out my blog post!

Frequently asked questions

Have a question about this project?

  3 questions
  • I have a patch of flags (irises) that have reappeared each year for at least 10 yrs they are left to their own. Lately they are decreasing in their size or number. Would they benefit from being separated?

  • Charlene Cole Obara Charlene Cole Obara on Mar 02, 2021

    Can you come to my house????

  • Kr Kr on Mar 02, 2021

    when is a good time to separate iris bulbs?


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