BY PAT UNDERWOOD
RETIRED PLANT MANAGER OF SAM HILL GARDENS
guest in the Neighborhood Garden today is Pat Underwood. Pat is the
retired Plant Manager of Sam Hill Gardens in Malcolm, NE, and a Master
are an easy to grow, low maintenance perennial that comes in a variety of
colors, sizes and shapes. At
the Gardens, we dug daylilies for customer orders from late April through
Dividing daylilies is a necessary part of growing this perennial.
Division rejuvenates the plant and also provides you with
additional plants that you can move to another location in your gardens or
give to a friend or neighbor. I'm
often asked when is the best time to divide.
Because daylilies have a fibrous root and are not a bulb, you can
do divisions any time during the growing season.
At the Gardens, I generally didn't get around to planting until mid
to late August but you should divide when it best fits your
schedule--spring or summer. Since
daylilies like warm soil, don't start too early in the spring.
How often should you divide? It
is recommended that daylily clumps be divided every 3 to 5 years but I
have had plants in the ground for 10 or more years.
As long as the plants are growing well and flowering
satisfactorily, they don't need division.
At some point, though, bud count will decrease significantly and to
restore flowering, you will need to divide.
Keep in mind, the older the clump, the bigger it will be and the
harder it will be to divide.
What is the division process? There
are several ways to divide a daylily depending on how frugal you are and
how much time you want to spend. At
the Gardens, I strive for the most fans--individual plants.
Frugal Division Method
This is the method I use:
back the foliage to about 6 inches above the base of the plant.
This helps to see the base of the plant better.
It also reduces the amount of top growth the plant needs to support
after division and helps to minimize moisture loss through the leaves.
a spade or shovel, dig a circle around the clump about 2 or 3 inches out
from the base of the plant as deep as you can push the spade into the
ground. If the soil is
particularly hard, spraying the digging area with a strong stream of water
as you are digging helps the spade go in more easily and loosens the soil,
making it easier to lift the clump.
and slowly lift the clump with the spade. Once the roots are free from the
ground, shake or wash off as much soil from the roots at the site so you
can replace the soil in the hole left by the clump. If soil remains on the
roots, move the clump to a wash tub or some other container that can be
filled with water and let the clump soak for a while to loosen the
remaining soil. Then spray off
the remaining soil.
and twist the roots gently but firmly to separate the fans of the
daylilies. The roots are
typically intertwined and will need a firm approach.
I avoid handling the plant by the foliage to avoid breaking it off.
Sometimes forcing a dandelion digger into the root mass helps
loosen the roots. Remove any
broken roots and debris from the roots and around the crown.
that the plant is separated into individual fans or groups of two or
three, you are ready to replant. You
should replant as soon as possible.
a hole to accommodate the bulk of the roots.
Plant shallowly. The
crown of the plant (the area where the roots emerge) should be no more
than 1/4 to 1/2 inch below the surface.
Surround the roots with soil to avoid air pockets.
Firm the soil and water well. If
roots show after watering, add a little more soil.
Keep in mind that when perennials are
first planted, they focus their energies on establishing their root
system. So the first couple of
years, you will have only a few blooms.
By the third year, you will have a really nice picture in your
garden. Because of this time
table, I recommend planting two or three fans together in one hole so
during those "lean" years, you will still have a pretty picture
in the garden.
Using the frugal method does result in the destruction of root
hairs. Root hairs are
necessary for absorption of nutrients and water so the plant will focus
its energy to rebuild these roots. As
a result, you will see the outer leaves of the plant turning yellow within
a few days. This is normal.
Watch for new growth from the center of the fan.
Within six weeks, your daylily will be fully leafed out.
Quick Division Method
Now hereís another approach which you can use to quickly divide a
clump. Simply chop the clump
with a spade. This method
results in the loss of some plants but it save times and requires less
work. You just
dig down directly into the clump and chop off a section.
Move the section to a new location.
Dig a hole big enough for the section and plant it.
With this method you may transfer plants, like weeds, that you
donít want to the new site. Sometimes
moving a clump is done just to eliminate the bad stuff.
So if the parent clump is overgrown with weeds and grasses, I
recommend using the first method allowing you to easily remove any grass
or weed before replanting.
Remember, dividing daylilies is a necessary part of growing
daylilies but don't be intimidated by the process.
If you have never done it before, just get out that spade and chop
away. The daylilies will
understand and thank you by rewarding you with new growth and more blooms
than you can remember.