The Q&A Archives: Jupiter's Beard-how To Separate Roots?

Question: I have two huge Jupiter's Beard flowering plants - so big they are falling over. How do I go about separating the roots to make more plants, when they are so bound together and big? I don't want to kill them. Also, do you sell Jupiter's Beard plants?

Answer: Jupiter's Beard is Centranthus ruber, sometimes called Red Valerian. The plants self-sow readily and can become 3' high bushy clumps. To keep plant size under control (and to keep it from self-seeding), cut back the flowering stems when the flowers fade. You can dig and divide your plants to increase the number you have in your garden, but it might be easier to allow it to self-sow. If you decide to dig and divide, autumn or early spring are the best times - natural rainfall and cooler temperatures will make the process less stressful for your plants. Dig them up and divide with a shovel, axe, or whatever tool you're most comfortable with. Each division should have roots and a few stems attached. Replant and water well to exclude any air pockets around the roots.

Seeds are available through the Thompson & Morgan catalog. Phone (800) 274-7333.

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