In the colder months there may look like there is no activity at ground level or if you have recently inherited a garden it might not be apparent what is under foot. We can overlook the tired bed at the bottom of the garden and forget it hosts bulbs that haven’t seen the light of day or a clump forming perennial that has outgrown its original home.
It can be a good exercise to sometimes see what the garden already has and to give an exhausted specimen a new lease of life. Plants benefit from being reduced in size, it can improve their vigour and flowering ability. There are so many methods of this from cuttings, hard and soft to leaf, and seed but one of the most straightforward and most rewarding is division.
In the main division is an option when the plant lives off a storage organ, but you can divide some shrubs from the root ball as long as there are fiborous growth. A storage organ is a Bulb, Corm, Rhizomes or Tuber similar looking to a onion, piece of ginger or potato. The important factor in dividing is not the category since they follow the same principle. it is to identify where you separate.
Bulbs are the most common. Usually only large specimens can be spliced or those that have two sprouts of growth. Snowdrops, Crocuses, Daffodills Narcissi and Grape Hyacinths are the typical choices but Hermerocallis (Day Lillies) and Convillaria (Lilly of the valley) are more unusual. The best of this is you can control where the flowering period will be, have varying cycles thereby ensuring colour all year round. They are as you usually expect under the ground, how deep will depend on what they are.
Corms that are very similar in appearance to bulbs and are usually found in clusters. They do require regular divisions since they procreate themselves and the cluster will grow if left undisturbed. Often they are at the surface just protruding from the ground. Crocosmia and Mobretia, Irises, although Rhizomes have a similar growth habit. The Allium family generally are suitable for this method of propagation ornamental and culinary. Agapanthus will also benefit from division.
Rhizomes are likely to be a long fleshy organ protruding on the surface. There will be small little off shoots along it. These are capable of becoming separate plants. Bergenia (Elephants Ears) or Irises possess these characteristics. Canna Lillies, Humulus (Hops), Zigiber officianale (Ginger).
Kniphofia (Red hot pokers) are tubers often after flowering can look tired. It is worth removing the dead leaves from around the crown. The tuber can be divided quite severely and will come back in numbers. The flowering improved. After flowering all these organs sit dormant with the dead growth coveting the surface. Time needs to be given for the goodness to return to the storage organ which is why the debris needs to be left on the plant. If the bulbs are naturalised in the grass for instance Daffodils/Narcissi, the leaves need to tied back rather than cut off.