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The season has arrived to divide plants

Siberian iris bloom beautifully in spring and need to be divided every three to five years in autumn. John Zvirovski / The Sun

It is hard to believe that we have already entered the month of September. Seems like the summer season just began and we are already having cooler evenings and the hint of autumn in the air. Now, don't get discouraged as we could still have a good six weeks of gardening left before the first spring frost arrives, or just a couple of weeks. Either way, it is best that we make the most of the time we have left and enjoy every new discovery that each day still has to offer.

There can still be plenty of work to do if you want. We have entered the time of year where dividing perennials can be very beneficial. Getting the divisions made and replanted by Sept. 15 is always the best schedule to keep. Make sure you have a good plan in mind, a good spade and a sharp knife for making the job easy.

Most of the perennials are on their way out from the blooming season, but there are still quite a few that are about to bloom, so those we will want to wait until spring to divide. Good examples of these plants would be fall-blooming sedums, asters and chrysanthemums. These all do best being divided in spring as they will still bloom the same year.

Peonies are a big one and their crowns can be deep. They have already gathered all the energy from summer to store in the roots, so these can now be cut down and dug up. Make sure when cutting through their roots that you are making clean cuts and still allowing a nice healthy clump to be planted back into the ground. As with any perennials, cut out all diseased, dying or rotting roots so the healthy ones can take over.

With items such as Siberian or bearded iris, often the centers begin to die out. Dig the clumps, cut out all the central portion of the clumps and only save the nice thick tubers from the outer edges. When replanted, place from six to eight roots back into a 14-inch circle with the majority of the roots on the outer portion and one in the center. This will give them ample room to grow in the future before dividing has to be done again.

Garden phlox, campanula and monarda also take a liking to being divided during this time of year. There is plenty of time to get their new roots established before the ground begins to freeze up in late October to mid-November.

Once you have your new plants placed back into the ground, make sure they are watered in well, so their roots have a chance to begin growing. There is still plenty of warm weather that we can get and the ground remains warm for good root development.

Don't forget also that this is the season to begin thinking about planting those spring bulbs to make sure you have plenty of early color in the gardens once the snow has melted away. Hard to believe that season is on the way, but time seems to go quicker and quicker and before you know it, spring will be knocking on our doorstep once again.

Most outlets do not have their spring bulbs in yet, but in the next week or two you will see an abundance of them on the shelves and ready to go at some pretty affordable prices in most places. If you are ordering through a catalog, place that as soon as possible to allow for shipping time and to get their best selections as they can sell out of some of the unique ones quickly.

Most spring bulbs when planted in a circle give the biggest impact the following year and for many years to come. I think I still have room for a few more, so I am sure I will be on the lookout for some different selections. Until that time, I will be content in dividing my iris that need some nurturing this month.

Have fun on your endeavors and remember that this month will pass by just as quickly, so get in your last minute BBQ's, enjoy the scents of the garden, and watch the season fly by with its migrating bird species that will stop through the area on their journey. Yes, every month is exciting in some way in the place we call our garden.

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