The Q&A Archives: Dividing Daylilies

Question: I have two large day lilies. I'd like to divide them into several smaller plants and replant to cover a larger area. Can I divide them, and how do I? Also, should I add anything to the soil after I divide and than transplant?

Thank you very much.

Answer: Dividing big old clumps of daylilies (Hemerocallis) is hard work but the plants will reward you for it with bigger and better blooms next season. It's best if you can prepare the spot you are moving them to before you divide them. Some gardeners dig up the entire clump, some don't. Of those who do dig the entire thing up, some wash them off with the hose so they can see what they are doing better and some don't. Some use an improvised tool such as a screwdriver to carefully separate the roots, others use two pitchforks back to back to pry them apart, others use a knife. I have been known to use a shovel to blunt cut straight down through the clump without even digging it up, but this rough method will not result in the maximum number of new plants.

Any top part with roots attached will eventually grow into a new plant, but you will get larger plants faster by using larger divisions. Whatever method you use, you are bound to have many leftovers to share with friends! In general, it is a good idea to water the plant well the day before you divide it. Then cut the top back by about half to two thirds. Replant your division at the same depth it grew before and water it in well. (If they are bare root, dig the new hole, place a mound of soil in the center and drape the roots over it; firm it well, fill in around it and water it.) Keep an eye on the moisture until the plants re-establish themselves; a layer of mulch helps, too.

Some gardeners prefer to divide them early in spring and the next best time is late summer, but you can do it any time if you are careful.

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