In the Garden: Perennial priorities

BURLINGTON, Vt. (WCAX) This is going to be a good weekend to get some garden work done. Charlie Nardozzi shows us which perennials you can divide now, and which you should leave alone.

Sharon Meyer: So Charlie, this is the time of year where we have lots of work to do to make sure next years garden looks as good as this years.

Charlie Nardozzi: Absolutely, and one of the things to do is to divide your perennials, and you can't divide them all right now.

Sharon Meyer: Ok, so which ones can you?

Charlie Nardozzi: There's a rule of thumb. If it blooms in the spring, like the peonies, the iris, the nepetas -- those you can divide now in the fall. If it blooms in the summer or fall, like the rudbeckias, sedum, asters -- those you divide in the spring. And if you have daylilies or hostas, you can divide them any time you want. That's why they are my favorite plants! Because they can handle anything!

Sharon Meyer: Because they are so easy!

Charlie Nardozzi: So you divide for a couple of different reasons -- if they aren't really blooming very well, or if they are dying out in the center. Siberian iris will do that, and regular iris. You are going to want to actually divide those to get them to rejuvenate. Also, you can divide them just to get new plants for yourself and your friends. So for hostas, it's really simple. Let me show you how to do it. You go down with a hedge trimmer or a hand pruner and you just cut them all back. And then dig out the whole clump, and you can sometimes tell once you've dug it out, where you can just naturally hand divide them into little clumps, little sections.

Sharon Meyer: But if you need to, you can use a knife?

Charlie Nardozzi: If you need to you can use a knife or a sharp spade. If you are doing something with ornamental grass you might need something heavier duty. But if it's a hosta or a day lily, you can use whatever you want. It's easy. Then you just plant it in a similar location, you add a little compost in, water it in well, and then put some mulch around it, because the key with dividing these in the fall, is you want to do it four to six weeks before the ground freezes. So you want to do it fairly soon, and you want to protect it with mulch through that first winter. And by next year -- new plants for everyone.