Dividing Herbaceous Perennials (Video)

How and When to Divide Herbaceous Perennials

Time to be cruel to be kind; digging and dividing your summer-flowering herbaceous perennials is an excellent regime to boost their health and performance, giving you free plants in the bargain.

You will need a fork, spade, secateurs & watering can.


Hi, I'm Andi from Ashridge Nurseries. We've got a lovely Sedum here. It’s been up all winter. I'm going to cut it back, lift it out the ground, divide it up and stick it back in, making lots of new plants for free. So get your secateurs, this will be quite brittle, so you might be able to just snap it. You can do that if you’re crude and you don't have the right tools, or you can just cut it.

So here's the new growth that's looking beautiful. It’s an absolutely ideal time to be cutting in this, and dividing it all.

And these are lovely to leave on through the winter, they give us a lot of architectural shape and structure to the garden. So you don't want to cut it until the spring anyway, and you can see it's a beautiful day - perfect for gardening!

So we just move that off to the side. There’s lots of other bits which will break up nicely. That’s now cut back enough for what we want to do. I’ll put my secateurs away and I'm going to grab a fork. So we only ever really want to dig our plants up with a fork. We don't really want to use a spade. A fork will go between the roots, whereas a spade will cut the roots. So it's always important to dig up plants with a fork.

And we're just going to slide that under there. Look at that, that comes out in one. I'm going to spike him a bit and give him a shake and drop the plant in there.

Sometimes these will fall apart, but this one isn't going too. So what I'm going to do is I'm just going to quite brutally cut it in half with a spade and then probably that way as well. It seems a bit severe, but actually the plants will be fine. I'm going to go for one very vicious chop there, and then we'll divide each of those.

They might come apart by hand. That was not a good shot, but it'll work anyway.

We've got three nice pieces and there’s me going on about not damaging roots, but actually this is fine. You can see how it's all nice. There's a lot of perennial plants that need to be divided regularly so that they stay fresh and new, sometimes the centre can die out, but this is a lovely, healthy plant.

We're just going to dig some holes now and put those three plants back in. You can see it’s got some really good roots on it. So we'll stick those back in. We'll give it a little water and that will be done. I'm just going to dig three small holes now for those new pieces. I like to make them a little bit bigger than we need, so I don't have to wrestle them into the ground.

We're going to re-establish the same plant, but we're just going to spread it out a little bit.

So that's my ground prepared. I'm not going to put any compost in because it doesn't need it. This is lovely soil here. I'm just going to loosen the soil underneath with a fork and that's just so that the roots can establish into nice free open soil.

And that's lovely. Look at that. This is beautiful soil - it’s so dark.

There's my three pieces. So I'm just going to space them out and see what they look like. It may look strange with these sharp edges at the moment, but actually give it a few minutes, I would have buried them back in and they’ll look like ordinary plants again.

So that positioning looks good for me, so I’m going to back fill gently by hand.

Give that two weeks and they'll be up looking beautiful and will grow away for the summer and you'll have a much larger stand of it, and that's how easy division is.

After we have divided it. We're just going to water it in to make sure it settles in nice. I'm sure there will be rain, but this helps to no end.


We do use cookies, which are bits of code that stay on your browser. They help you to buy products from us online in a convenient and secure manner, and help us to improve and give you the smooth service that you desire.

Thank you, The Ashridge Nurseries Team.

Back to top