Spring Division and Relocation

April 29, 2008

What started out as a tentative exploration in the art of dividing plants, specifically a Bleeding Heart that was a bit big for its confined space, quickly turned into a project of massive proportions. Once I got started I forged on to divide and/or move many of my other plants as well. After a few hours of this I finally realized that maybe I had gone a little overboard when I was seriously considering chopping down an overgrown Potentilla. It all started with the perennial spade that I got for Christmas:

I hauled out my perennial spade, a shovel and a bag of used coffee grinds to the side yard where the Bleeding Heart was:

I would have rather used aged sheep manure but I was too lazy to go to the nursery and was impatient to begin. Last year this Bleeding Heart and its neighbouring hosta were getting too big for their cramped corner. Not only that, they were growing right up against the fence. Things had to change this year and I started out by digging a 4 inch ring about the base of the plant with my shovel:

By hauling up and down on the shovel at different angles, I was able to get a big chunk of the plant out. Here you can see the extent of the brittle roots:

I didn’t get all of it in one go – there was a small piece still in the ground pushed right up against the fence:

I looked at the big chunk of Bleeding Heart and parted the foliage to make a straight line down the middle:

Using my perennial spade, I cut the chunk in half:

Here you can see some of the pieces of plant that fell off to the side. The roots are quite brittle:

I tossed in a shovelful of used coffee grinds and mixed it in with the soil in the hole:

I repositioned the half chunk of Bleeding Heart, about a froot from the fence, so that it could grow and fill the space out nicely over the next few years.

After it was replanted I watered the area deeply and thoroughly. The other half of the Bleeding Heart went into a shady spot in the back yard:

Really, I should have stopped there but I decided to keep on going. I vaguely know there is some rule about dividing spring-flowering plants in the fall and fall-flowering plants in the spring but I didn’t care. I have a theory that most of my plants are pretty hardy and will come back, even in situations where I don’t want them to (that’s right, I’m looking at you orange ditch lilies). So the Bleeding Heart’s neighbouring hosta got divided and relocated (bottom of the picture):

Its other half went into the front yard in a space previously-held by some Siberian Iris:

The Siberian Iris went into the back yard where it would have wet roots, a tip I learned from a Master Gardener:

Not shown is the new digs of the Centaurea montana and the Sempervivum arachnoideum. Thankfully the weather has been cooler and rainy, helping my newly-relocated plants to adjust to their new homes.

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One Response to “Spring Division and Relocation”


  1. Ah yes, a new spade, some overgrown perennials, and empty looking garden spots, there’s a recipe for spring fun. I was having fun along with you as you rearranged. It should look great as everything grows.


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