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When did you last lift and divide congested clumps of perennial flowers in your garden? You’re not alone if you’re struggling to remember, as this is a job I often overlook too.
Hardy perennials just do their thing year after year, and I don’t give most of them a second thought. Well, that’s why I planted them in the first place – to be reliable performers that look after themselves.
The problem with leaving perennials alone is that the central parts of plants grow less productive over time, with new shoots spreading outwards from the fringes. The soil they’re growing in gets more impoverished as its nutrients become exhausted.
So, what can be done? I do spread a good mulch of compost over the soil around them each year, and this is gradually taken down by worms to improve the soil. At this time of year, when perennial plants are putting on such a burst of new growth, I also make sure they don’t go short of water. Adding a liquid feed a couple of times a year also helps.
It has been an incredibly dry spring in my part of the East Midlands, with hardly a drop of rain for months. Farmers and gardeners are getting desperate for a good deluge, and I can openly make that plea now the long holiday weekends are over.
The other thing we must all do from time to time is to lift and divide our plants. Large, congested clumps need gently lifting completely, like with my hardy geraniums, hostas, phlox, campanula and others.
Healthy, young outer portions can be teased or cut away to be replanted into freshly dug and improved soil, while the very old central portions of clumps can be discarded.
This helps maintain youthful vigour in your borders, resulting in strong growth and great flowering performance.
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