Archive for March, 2012

Dividing Perennials as seen on KDKA-TV’s PTL

Wednesday, March 28th, 2012

When hostas poke through the soil, it's time to split them.


This is the perfect time to divide perennials. Hostas and many other plants will benefit from dividing.
Get into the soil, dig around the plant then pull the whole thing out and brutally cut it in half or into quarters.
Most perennials will be revitalized by the dividing. It’s a great way to make more plants, trade with friends or can be the perfect gift for fellow gardeners.
Here’s a good list of perennials that explains how often to divide them.
Yarrow (Achillea species and hybrids). Divide every 2-3 years in the spring. Discard woody core.

Columbine (Aquilegia species and hybrids). can be divided for propagation in the spring. Plants may take a while to recover after division.

Asters (Aster species). Divide every 2-3 years in the spring or fall. Replant small healthy pieces from outside of the clump.

Chrysanthemum (Chrysanthemum species) Divide every 2-3 years in the spring when new shoots are 3-6 inches tall.

Shasta daisy (Leucanthemum and hybrids) Divide every 2-3 years in spring or fall when new foliage is 3-6 inches tall. Discard central portion.

Coreopsis (Coreopsis species). Divide every 2-3 years in the spring or early fall.

Pampas Grass (Cortederia sellonana). Plant 6 feet apart and they may never need division.

Delphinium (Delphinium species and hybrids) Divide every2-3 years in the spring

Bleeding Heart (Dicentra eimia or D.spectabilis). Divide every 3-4 years in the spring. Handle carefully as roots are brittle.

Ferns (various genus and species). Many grow from rhizomes. Propagate by root division or crown division.

Hellebore (Helleborus species and hybrids). Allow 3-5 years before dividing when in bloom or immediately after they stop flowering.

Daylily (Hemerocallis species and hybrids). Divide every 4-6 years in the spring or immediately after flowering for spacing and for heavier blooms

Hosta (Hosta species and hybrids). Plant at least three feet apart and they will never need division.

Red-Hot Poker (Kniphofia species and hybrids). Divide for propagation in the spring or fall, otherwise they do not need division.

Monarda or Bee Balm (Monarda species and hybrids). Divide every 3-4 years in the spring.

Phlox (phlox species and hybrids). Divide in later spring after flowers have faded. Before replanting, cut foliage down to half current height. The root system is sparse.

Sedum or Stonecrop (Sedum species and hybrids). Divide only for propagation in the spring.

Sempervivum or Hen and Chicks (Sempervivum species). In the spring or fall remove new offsets around crown margins. Cut the lateral stem between the parent and offshoot. Allow the cut portion to dry and form a callus before covering with soil.

Spring Planting as seen on KDKA’s PTL

Thursday, March 22nd, 2012

Here's a close up of a pea sprouting. That's a sign of spring! Photo by Doug Oster


When I first started gardening, my mother would march us out to the garden on Memorial Day. We’d weed, turn over the soil and plant everything that day. On Labor Day the garden was finished and we ripped everything out.

Fast forward a few decades and now my garden season is almost year round, and yours can be too.

Choosing the right crops, giving them some protection and getting a little lucky with the weather can have you picking things before many gardeners have begun to plant.

Here’s a partial list of things that can be planted now-

Lettuce, greens, peas, beets, carrots, radishes, arugula, kale, Swiss chard and spinach. All of these plants tolerate frost and enjoy cool weather.
Don’t forget about pansies and snapdragons either for quick color.

It’s still pretty cold during March and April, so I protect the crops with a floating row cover. It’s a spun bound lightweight translucent fabric that acts like a greenhouse for the plants.

There’s a risk in planting some of these crops right now, it might stay cold enough so they wouldn’t germinate, but that rarely happens. We’re just risking our time and the cost of a seed packet.

Since the ground is still too wet to work, just get some compost from a garden center and pour it on the planting area. Now just spread the seeds out on the compost as detailed in the Digging with Doug video at this link.

Don’t wait until May to plant, get something in now to enjoy the first harvest of the neighborhood.