Definitely clean those tools, but hold off on the winter storage!
Autumn is one of the best times to divide your perennials. Currently on The Inn’s property, we’re busy rescuing various native plants from the pathway of new switchbacks to be developed on the OAAM trail. Some of those species include Asarum canadense (Wild Ginger), Hydrophyllum virginiana (Virginia Waterleaf), Lindera benzoin (Northern Spicebush), Actaea racemosa (Black Cohosh), Sedges (Carex spp.), and Trilliums (Trilliums spp.). If you have any of these species growing on your property (hopefully in a native habitat on your property), now is the time to divide and conquer!
In addition to the ones mentioned above, other plants to consider for fall division include: Alumroot, Black-eyed Susan, Goatsbeard, Golden Ragwort, Iris, Phlox, Purple Coneflower, Solomon’s Seal, and Spiderwort.
Dividing is easy but it should be mentioned that not all perennials do well if uprooted in the fall (some do best in the spring) and some perennials don’t do well if divided at all. You will want to research your perennials and see which option (if either) is best for them.
Division can aid plants in many ways. Some plants need divided to continue performing their best. Whether the area is too crowded with other plants or issues below the soil surface (rooting roots, diseases, etc.), division offers solutions. In addition, if you have any bare spots in your beds, or wish to transform another area of lawn into a pollinator-friendly habitat, division offers a “bogo sale” if you will. Dividing certain plants, like Irises, can prove bountiful!
Understanding a plant’s root system helps when dividing. Some plants, sticking with Irises, spread through rhizomes (vertical root system). In this instance, the rhizome can be cut in various places and rooting will occur the following spring. Other plants, like grasses, grow in such dense clusters that dividing can prove nearly impossible. Again, researching to best understand your specific plants is key to a successful bogo sale of plants.
Plan accordingly! Have an area(s) or pot(s) ready if you wish to transplant immediately and avoid overwintering in pots. Try and schedule the work to be done on a typical cool, overcast day to reduce stress to the plant.
Another thought to keep in mind, leaves. Yes, the dreaded raking, bagging, and removal of colorful leaves. These leaves can serve as a great mulch alternative and add nutrients to the soil. Consider raking your leaves and using them around your property to suppress weeds, add nutrients and be a little more green (skip the plastic bags).
Autumn is a truly beautiful time of year (as is every season), but there’s a lesson to learn in each. Autumn reminds us to 1) keep going even though it seems over – i.e. keep planting, because it’s actually a great time to do so even though the season is coming to an end. And 2) take problems and find creative solutions to them – i.e. using leaves to your benefit!
Isn’t nature grand?!
Until next time,