It’s early spring and I’m itching to get outside and play in the dirt. I have a cherished sign given to me by a friend that says, “dirt therapy.” For me, there’s no better prescription for chasing away the blues than digging in the moist, rain-drenched spring dirt and being reassured that all my hard work amending the soil in the fall months has paid off. I am greeted by a bumper crop of earthworms right below the mulched soil surface as I dig in to divide and transplant my perennials.

If perennials are transplanted in March in Texas, they will barely miss a beat when moved with most of their roots still clinging to their soil. Divide clumps of perennials that have not been thinned in 2-3 years. Dividing helps control the size of the plant and the space it occupies. This exercise of dividing and transplanting also rejuvenates older plants and is a thrifty way to propagate new ones without spending extra money at the nurseries.

I like inviting people over on the days I plan to divide and conquer. Fellow gardeners are to “BYOD”, bring your own dirt and pots! I can make a party out of any day in the sunshine!

The steps for planting and transplanting are as follows:

1. Lift the entire clump while the clump is moist.

2. Study the clump carefully. Note the crowns or shoots.

3. Decide how many pieces into which to divide the clump.

4. Before deciding where to make the cuts, prepare the soil in which you plan to transplant, whether it be in your garden or in the pots of your visitors.

5. Cut apart the clump with a large sharp knife.

6. Replant or pot up the divisions immediately.

7. Position perennials into beds so that the tops of the rootballs are level or slightly above the soil of the bed. If planted too deeply, they tend to suffer crown rot.

Perennials may not look like much at this stage, but just imagine how they will look when they bloom in two or three months!

Which perennials will you share this season?

The glory of gardening: hands in the dirt, head in the sun, heart with nature. To nurture a garden is to feed not just the body, but the soul.


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