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Dividing Peonies

Martha Stewart Living Television

Dividing is a quick, easy, and inexpensive method of plant propagation that is beneficial for most perennials. By turning one plant into many, division helps control overcrowding and rejuvenates older plants that have lost their vigor. 

According to fourth-generation peony gardener Roy Klehm, fall is the perfect time to divide herbaceous or soft-stemmed peonies. Roy recommends dividing herbaceous peonies every 10 years. With their grand, old-fashioned flowers, peonies are a true delight that will thrive in your garden for many years.

Tools and Materials

  • Shovel
  • Garden fork
  • Kitchen, pocket, or root knife

Dividing Peonies How-To
1. Use a shovel to carefully dig around the plant, making sure not to damage its root system, then lift it out of the ground with a garden fork.

2. Place plant on a work surface. Wash plant with water to remove soil so that your view will be unobstructed. Using a sharp, sturdy blade, remove anything foreign, such as tree roots, from the root clumps.

3. Look for new growth on your root clumps, such as eyes, which are red buds that sprout from the plant's crown. Divide root clumps into sections that have three or more eyes by making clean cuts to promote new root growth. Trim overgrown roots, and remove broken ones. In three to four years, their root systems will have developed enough to sustain their first full bloom.

Resources
Learn about Song Sparrow Perennial Farm. For more information about garden tools, visit Lee Valley Garden Tools.