The Art of Plant Propagation: Division

Plant propagation is an exciting endeavor that allows gardeners and horticulturists to create new plants from existing ones. Among the various propagation methods, division holds a prominent place. Division involves separating a mature plant into two or more parts, each with its own roots and shoots. This technique is particularly suitable for perennials and clump-forming plants. In this article, we will explore the intricacies of division, including its benefits, when to divide plants, and step-by-step instructions to successfully divide plants.

The Benefits of Division

Division offers several advantages for both gardeners and plants:

1. Expansion of Plant Collection

Division allows gardeners to expand their plant collection without having to purchase new specimens. By dividing established plants, you can propagate numerous new plants, enhancing the diversity and beauty of your garden.

2. Rejuvenation and Vigor

Dividing plants promotes their rejuvenation and vigor. Over time, clump-forming perennials tend to become congested, resulting in reduced flowering, stunted growth, and increased vulnerability to diseases. Division helps rejuvenate the plant, stimulating fresh growth and improving overall health and vitality.

3. Garden Maintenance

Dividing plants also aids in garden maintenance. It helps control the size of vigorous plants that tend to spread excessively. By dividing them regularly, you can keep them in check and prevent them from overrunning neighboring plants or encroaching on other garden areas.

When to Divide Plants

Timing is crucial when it comes to dividing plants. While the exact timing may vary depending on the specific plant species, as a general rule, division is best carried out during the plant’s dormant or semi-dormant period. This is typically in early spring or fall, when plants are not actively growing or flowering. Dividing plants during these periods allows them to recover and establish themselves before the onset of stressful conditions.

Step-by-Step Guide to Division

Follow these steps to successfully divide your plants:

Step 1: Preparation

Before diving into the division process, gather the necessary tools, including a sharp garden knife or a garden fork, a spade or shovel, and gardening gloves. Ensure your tools are clean and sharp to minimize the risk of damage or disease transmission.

Step 2: Watering and Loosening the Soil

Water the plant thoroughly a day or two before division. Moist soil eases the process and reduces stress on the plant. Once the soil is adequately moist, gently loosen it around the plant using a garden fork or spade. This makes it easier to lift the plant and separate the roots.

Step 3: Lifting the Plant

Using the garden fork or spade, carefully dig around the plant, starting from the outer perimeter. Gradually work your way towards the center, gently loosening the plant’s root mass from the soil. Lift the plant out of the ground, taking care not to damage the roots or stems.

Step 4: Dividing the Plant

Examine the root system and identify natural divisions or sections where the plant can be separated. Depending on the plant, you can divide it into two or more parts. Ensure that each division has an adequate number of healthy roots and shoots to support its growth. Use a sharp garden knife to make clean cuts, avoiding tearing or jagged edges.

Step 5: Replanting

Once divided, replant each section immediately. Prepare the new planting holes in advance, ensuring they are wide and deep enough to accommodate the roots without crowding or bending them. Place each division in its respective hole, making sure the crown is level with or slightly above the soil surface. Backfill the hole with soil, gently firming it around the roots.

Step 6: Watering and Care

After replanting, thoroughly water each division to settle the soil and eliminate air pockets. Provide regular watering during the establishment phase, keeping the soil evenly moist but not waterlogged. Monitor the plants for any signs of stress or disease and take appropriate measures if needed.


Division is a rewarding and effective technique for propagating plants. Whether you want to expand your plant collection, rejuvenate existing plants, or maintain the size and health of your garden, division offers numerous benefits. By understanding when to divide plants and following the step-by-step instructions, you can successfully divide your plants and enjoy the beauty and abundance they bring to your garden.