‘Saves you money!’: Alan Titchmarsh shares ‘technique to adopt’ when dividing perennials

Alan Titchmarsh demonstrates how to divide perennials

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Alan demonstrated how he divides his perennial plants to create more in a video for Waitrose & Partners. Popular, diverse and versatile, perennials fill our gardens with colour and interest in every season, and there’s a huge range of easy-to-grow, free-flowering options to choose from. They’re available in many shapes and sizes, with flowers in every colour imaginable, and when planted in borders or containers they can perform for many years.  

As well as growing upwards and producing flowers and fruits, perennials also grow outwards, but it’s something we can use to our advantage, according to Alan.

He explained: “Shrubs and climbers are not a problem – they just improve with age but the hardy border plants, something else happens to them.

“As they grow outwards the centre of the clump dies away and you end up with a circle of plants and a big gap in the middle.

“But what you can do is dig up those living shoots, divide them, make more plants and replant them.”

The gardening pro explained that the “perfect time” to do this is in spring “before the shoots get too large”. 

He explained: “You can dig them in sections, it can take a bit of doing as they have been in there for a while, get it out of the soil and then you can make far more than just one clump.

“A clump this size can be turned into several smaller clumps as big as your fist and that really does save you money as well as filling up your border.”

Alan noted that he prefers to use a spade and insinuate it down the centre of the clump between those shoots and then chop.

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The gardening guru managed to get “three decent sized clumps” out of what he dug up.

Gardeners can also create lots of new plants from the perennials by taking cuttings.

This also works with a huge variety of other plants, including houseplants.

Alan advised gardeners to aim to make each clump the same size as a plant you would buy from a garden centre or shop.

He added: “They might look a bit sad because they’ll be wilting a little bit after digging them up, but the moment these get back in the soil and are watered in, they’ll perk up.

“Within a matter of a week they’ll be sitting up like centuries and I’ll have much more ground covered with healthy, young, vigorous plants.

“That’s the technique to adopt with plants you already possess in your beds and borders.”

Perennial divisions need to be planted as soon as possible and watered well.

They can either be replanted in the same spot, taking the opportunity to mix in a little garden compost or other soil improvers first, or moved to a new part of the garden.

Alternatively, pot up individually to build up size, overwintering pots in a frost-free environment.

Most perennials do best when divided every three to four years. 

While most perennials benefit from being divided every few years, there are a few perennials that thrive better if they are kept intact.

Love Your Weekend with Alan Titchmarsh airs on ITV at 10am on Sunday.

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