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Tips for dividing perennials

When dividing delphiniums, use the youngest, outside pieces to replant.
When dividing delphiniums, use the youngest, outside pieces to replant.

Q. Is this a good time to move perennials? My delphiniums are among several plants that need dividing and relocating.

A. Early spring and early autumn are the two preferred times for moving or dividing and replanting perennials.

Fall is not a good time to move perennials that favour very well-drained sites and dryish soils. Move them in spring. Such plants do not do well transplanted as a rainy season approaches.

Fresh, young roots that form will be prone to rotting. Examples are rock rose (Helianthemum), Eryngium, pinks (Dianthus), and succulent plants like sempervivums.

Most other perennials can be moved now, while enough decent weather remains for new roots to establish before winter weather. Or, wait until the chill of winter has passed, and the soil begins warming in the spring.

Delphiniums are classic garden perennials that prefer a rich, moist soil that drains well and a place in the sun as well as regular fertilizing and digging, dividing, and replanting every second or third year, in the spring. When dividing, use the youngest, outside pieces to replant.

Q. As my summer planters begin to look bare and straggly, I’m thinking of using the same containers for plantings to provide some colour and interest in the fall and winter on my deck. When should I make the change-over?

A. At any time from now through early autumn, I say goodbye to the petunias and other summer plantings on my patio, give them a decent rest in a compost heap and fill the containers with fresh potting mix.

I replant several with pansies and violas, which will bloom through the fall, in mild winter weather, and fully in spring. Small flower bulbs can be pushed into the soil amongst the pansies and violas.

Mixed winter planters can be put together with ornamental grasses, dwarf needle-bearing and broad-leaved evergreens, small heathers, flowering kale, heucheras (coral bells), and other small, hardy plants to be found at local garden centres.

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