Daylilies forum: Dividing daylilies

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Name: Sabrina
Italy, Brescia (Zone 8b)
Love daylilies and making candles!
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cybersix
Jul 28, 2016 9:52 AM CST
Hi everyone.
I have some daylilies I'd wnat to divide and gift to a friend. I looked at many videos on youtube and they scared me a lot. Someone divided the clump tearing the fans apart with their hands, someone cut the roots between the fans, some other used a spade directly on the clump while still in the ground. Basically every person I see in the videos said that daylilies are tough, don't worry. is it true? Are they tough? What is your preferred method? Thank You!
Sabrina, North Italy
My blog: http://hemerocallisblog.com
Name: Larry
Enterprise, Al. 36330 (Zone 8b)
Region: Alabama Composter Garden Photography Garden Ideas: Master Level Plant Identifier Celebrating Gardening: 2015
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Seedfork
Jul 28, 2016 10:02 AM CST
I have done all the above methods. Mostly before I was really interested in daylilies. My mother would get me to divide her's and we never gave any consideration to being gentle with daylilies.
Now, I do my best not to have to cut them, but I have a few there is just no other way to divide them. Plants are different and the soil they grow in makes a difference. A lot of plants can be dug and are easily divided with the gentlest of pulling to separate the fans (those are the fun to work with good ones). Others have to have all the soil washed off, then you have to use extra effort to pry the fans apart (those are the bad ones). Then there are those that you wash all the soil off off, you pry, you poke, you pull, and then you take whatever means necessary (shovel, axe, knife) to cut that mass of tangled unrelenting mass of roots (the ugly ones). Normally they are all fine and continue to grow and multiply.
That being said, there are some plants that after being divided will not miss a beat and then there are others which may miss a season or two before they start their normal growing and blooming cycle. I don't really think it has much to do with the method used to divide them.
[Last edited by Seedfork - Jul 28, 2016 11:16 AM (+)]
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Name: Skipper
Hamilton, Ohio (Zone 6a)
Daylilies Dog Lover Composter Region: Ohio Spiders!
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cottelpg
Jul 28, 2016 10:35 AM CST
Best article I ever read about dividing daylilies is on this site: "Dividing Daylilies, Overcoming the Fear of Separation" By Char.
Name: Sabrina
Italy, Brescia (Zone 8b)
Love daylilies and making candles!
Daylilies Cat Lover Region: Europe Garden Photography Garden Ideas: Level 1
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cybersix
Jul 28, 2016 10:40 AM CST
Thanks Larry!! The good thing to know is that they always recover. It seemed such a brutal thing Hilarious!

Cottelpg many thanks, I will look for that article!
Sabrina, North Italy
My blog: http://hemerocallisblog.com
Name: Susan
Southeast NE (Zone 5b)
Charter ATP Member I was one of the first 300 contributors to the plant database! Lilies Irises Cat Lover Dog Lover
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stilldew
Jul 28, 2016 10:42 AM CST
Larry about said it all. If I have a big old clump that I plan to get rid of altogether, I use the Jetstream setting on my watering wand and get as much soil as possible washed off, then first try to divide by hand. Sometimes the clump is too large to get up all in one piece, so may use a shovel to first cut it into 2-3 pieces, then wash and start dividing. If they won't separate by hand, I go to a knife. If the clump is fairly small and I just want to share a fan or two, I push the shovel in near the fan I want to remove and sort of pop it off. That way the part I keep doesn't get disturbed as much. It's easy to damage a fan or two no matter how you divide, so I don't suggest it when you only have 2-4 fans.
Name: Sabrina
Italy, Brescia (Zone 8b)
Love daylilies and making candles!
Daylilies Cat Lover Region: Europe Garden Photography Garden Ideas: Level 1
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cybersix
Jul 28, 2016 10:50 AM CST
Thanks Susan.
here the big problem is the hard clay soil. I once bent a spade trying to dig D'Oh!
But there are some that I want to gift and some that will go entirely to a new home so I guess I have to do it!
Sabrina, North Italy
My blog: http://hemerocallisblog.com
Name: Becky
Sebastian, Florida (Zone 10a)
Celebrating Gardening: 2015 Daylilies Hummingbirder Butterflies Seed Starter Container Gardener
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beckygardener
Jul 28, 2016 11:10 AM CST
Have you seen this tool? https://donsdaylilydivider.com/category/daylily-divider-tool...

It's on my Birthday or Christmas wish list. Thumbs up
What lies behind us and what lies before us are tiny matters, compared to what lies within us.
Garden Rooms and Becky's Budget Garden
Name: Sabrina
Italy, Brescia (Zone 8b)
Love daylilies and making candles!
Daylilies Cat Lover Region: Europe Garden Photography Garden Ideas: Level 1
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cybersix
Jul 28, 2016 11:12 AM CST
I saw it but it's not for me, here in the old land! It's a good tool for what I can see!
Sabrina, North Italy
My blog: http://hemerocallisblog.com
Name: Becky
Sebastian, Florida (Zone 10a)
Celebrating Gardening: 2015 Daylilies Hummingbirder Butterflies Seed Starter Container Gardener
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beckygardener
Jul 28, 2016 11:13 AM CST
Here is the YouTube video about the daylily divider tool: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Dj4h6h07FG4
What lies behind us and what lies before us are tiny matters, compared to what lies within us.
Garden Rooms and Becky's Budget Garden
Name: Mayo
The Netherlands, Europe (Zone 9a)
Region: Europe Cat Lover Daylilies Irises Dog Lover Hellebores
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Mayo62
Jul 28, 2016 11:25 AM CST
I would LOVE to have that!! Lovey dubby Lovey dubby
Sadly it isn't available here in Europe .. Crying


Mayo
a DL flower a day keeps the doctor away
Name: Arlene
Ponce Inlet, FL (Zone 9a)
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florange
Jul 28, 2016 2:32 PM CST
Sabrina, just use a spading fork (if you have one). Go all around the plant with it then boost it out of the ground. After that, pulling it apart with fingers or a screw driver will be much easier on you and on the plant. If the ground is sticky, wash the dirt off.

My husband told me to send you a special message. You have apologized for your poor use of English. I spent 2 decades as a Scientific Editor correcting the writings of Ph.d.'s (and I did not have a college degree at that time). I've corrected my husband's papers when he was taking classes in his Business Masters Program. My husband said--if she makes fewer mistakes then I did when I started writing papers, just let her know that her English is excellent with no need to apologize. Because if Arlene didn't jump in to correct what you say, you are doing great!!!!! He is a wonderful guy who really thinks you are the bomb--after he finished reading the e-mails you and I have exchanged.
Name: Becky
Sebastian, Florida (Zone 10a)
Celebrating Gardening: 2015 Daylilies Hummingbirder Butterflies Seed Starter Container Gardener
Charter ATP Member I was one of the first 300 contributors to the plant database! Garden Ideas: Master Level Lover of wildlife (Black bear badge) Birds Ponds
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beckygardener
Jul 28, 2016 2:34 PM CST
I agree Sabrina's communication skills are VERY good! Thumbs up
What lies behind us and what lies before us are tiny matters, compared to what lies within us.
Garden Rooms and Becky's Budget Garden
Name: Sabrina
Italy, Brescia (Zone 8b)
Love daylilies and making candles!
Daylilies Cat Lover Region: Europe Garden Photography Garden Ideas: Level 1
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cybersix
Jul 28, 2016 2:46 PM CST
Arlene, many thanks for your advice and for the very kind words! Hugs to you and your husband! He's so sweet!
I know my English is far from being perfect but I'm happy I can communicate with you all beautiful people on here!
Becky, many thanks to you too!

I don't have any spading fork. And the other problem is that the beds (not real beds, they are like rectangular "pools" filled with soil) are long but really narrow. I have less than 10 inches and it's difficult to use some kind of good tool in there! And they are crowded by (correct?) daylilies! I know it will be a pain Hilarious!
Group hug
Sabrina, North Italy
My blog: http://hemerocallisblog.com
Name: Arlene
Ponce Inlet, FL (Zone 9a)
Tropicals Daylilies Bromeliad Region: Florida Enjoys or suffers hot summers Birds
Garden Photography
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florange
Jul 28, 2016 4:06 PM CST
Sabrina, what sort of digging tools do you have? I'm trying to think of what would work. Here in the states we have thin, long shovels for digging post holes. You know, almost anything would work if you do it carefully--dig as far away from the roots as you can. Even if it is only 2-3" from the crown. If it is, you will have to sacrifice roots. Dig all the way around the plant, then lift carefully. Use a hose to rinse the roots then pull apart. If you want to break a small piece, try to wiggle 2 or 3 fans off the clump. If you want to divide it in half, put you hand at the mid-point of the clump and gently pull apart. Most will divide that way. There are other daylilies that love to entangle their roots together, then an old bread knife is your best friend.

That's the best I can suggest.

Good luck with your project!!
Name: Betty
MN zone 4
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daylilydreams
Jul 28, 2016 4:35 PM CST
Sabrina, I divided some this spring with a shovel while they were in the ground, just dug some fans off the edges of clumps to gift to friends. They divided them even more before they planted them and recently they told me some of them have already bloomed in their garden. As long as you have a decent size plant with at least two fans they should do fine.
If you want to be happy for a lifetime plant a garden!
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Betty MN Zone4 AHS member

Name: Ken
East S.F. Bay Area (Zone 9a)
Region: California
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CaliFlowers
Jul 28, 2016 5:24 PM CST
My favorite tools are a long-bladed, short-handled spade and two very large Phillips-head screwdrivers. Here in the US, the spade I'm using is commonly called a "Trenching Spade", but the linked terrierman (UK) page shows it as a "Drain Spade". These spades let you dig deeply with less effort and don't require that you lift a large spadeful of soil as you work. It's about all I ever use anymore. Sometimes, bargain tool outlets will have very inexpensive, large screwdrivers for sale. You want screwdrivers with shafts which are at least 6 mm in diameter with blades about 8" long. I recommend Phillips-head screwdrivers because they don't have sharp edges, but any screwdriver will work, as will a 14" tent stake or something similar.

In your confined area, (is the planting strip really only 10 inches wide, or are there 10 inches between the center or edge of the clump and the sides?) you'll probably have to use the spade to cut straight down on the sides of the clump near the concrete. You can angle the spade out a little as you work around to the area between clumps, (so you're digging more under the clump than straight down) but still try to stay about 6 or 7 inches from the edge of the clump in order to retain a good amount of root on the plant you're digging. Once you've made fairly deep cuts completely around the root ball, you'll have to get on either side of the clump and start to pry it upward as you work your spade further under the clump. It will be hard to do this and not compress the soil too much between the clump you're digging and the clump next to it, but try to keep it in mind as you work. One way to do this is to use the spade at a low angle and push the blade deep under the clump, and lift the handle instead of pushing downward to pry it up.

Once the clump is broken loose, and while it's still in the hole, use the screwdrivers to pry into open spaces between the fans/crowns and the roots as well, separating as much soil as possible away from the roots, and separating the crowns from each other. Start by working the two screwdrivers together into an open space between some crowns and gently tease/pry apart. When you get it whittled down to a reasonable size, you can haul it out of the hole and onto a sheet of cardboard or a drop cloth while you continue to work on getting the crowns to separate. Always look for natural separations between the crowns and as you work, be aware of places where the crowns appear to be loose and come apart more easily. Water helps the process along, but may make more of a mess than you're willing to deal with. If you have a large bucket of water, you can dip the clump in there and it will make your work much easier. Always work and pry between the crowns. If you try to grasp daylily fans at their bases to twist and work them apart, you're almost guaranteed to snap one of them off. I've done it, many times, even when I'm being careful. A daylily crown with a snapped-off fan will re-grow, but it will be set-back considerably.
South San Francisco Bay Area (Zone 9b)
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Polymerous
Jul 28, 2016 10:34 PM CST
What he said (or in other words, ditto on Ken's suggestions and cautions above).

If I am dividing a clump, first I cut the foliage back (to 8" or so), then I dig it, then I take the hose to it, and then I dump it in a bucket or plastic bushel of water and let it soak a while, to get as much of the remaining dirt out that I can. If the clump is a "good" one and it is easy to tease the fans apart, then go for it. Otherwise the two very large screwdrivers, whose use was described by Ken, work amazingly well in dividing the clump. I agree with him that you do have to be careful where you place them (try to work in the gaps in the clump). You may still end up snapping a fan or two off at the crown, depending on how crowded the clump is, but with the possible exception of the daylily divider tool (which I have only used once, thus far), the screwdrivers are the best tool that I have seen for this job. Thumbs up

(DH once came into "my" shed at one point and was poking around, and was outraged to find "his" screwdrivers tossed into a one gal pot with some stakes, all of them still with some dry dirt clinging to them. Rolling my eyes. I had to set him straight... ("Excuse me? YOUR screwdrivers?! Those are MY screwdrivers which I bought for dividing daylilies!") Rolling on the floor laughing )
The current avatar image is that of a volunteer daylily seedling showing cristation.
Name: Sabrina
Italy, Brescia (Zone 8b)
Love daylilies and making candles!
Daylilies Cat Lover Region: Europe Garden Photography Garden Ideas: Level 1
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cybersix
Jul 29, 2016 2:11 AM CST
Thanks again for all these helpful adivces! I think I'll get a trenching spade once I figure out the width they have.
One bed is 10 inches wide, the other is 19 inches wide.
I'm showing you a couple of pics. In the narrower bed DLs are really close to the border. In both beds they are pretty crowded and I need to dig a couple in the middle of the mess. Not all are to be divided but given the small space they are in and the hard soil I'm afraid to damage more than they can take.

Thumb of 2016-07-29/cybersix/fdd009
Thumb of 2016-07-29/cybersix/56e682

Thank You!
Sabrina, North Italy
My blog: http://hemerocallisblog.com
Name: Larry
Enterprise, Al. 36330 (Zone 8b)
Region: Alabama Composter Garden Photography Garden Ideas: Master Level Plant Identifier Celebrating Gardening: 2015
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Seedfork
Jul 29, 2016 5:55 AM CST
Rock hard soil, surrounded by concrete on both sides which restricts the root zone and could be leaching lime into the soil looks like a very poor place to try and grow daylilies. I am assuming those plant in the photo are not going to be divided? For the ones that are, my only suggestion is to take the hose and soak the soil for however long it takes to get that soil so soft it becomes easy to dig and then use a small spade to slowly work them out.
This is the one I have: I have almost completely stopped using a trowel and use this instead when doing small transplanting jobs.
http://www.tractorsupply.com/tsc/product/groundwork-mini-sho...
Name: Susan
Southeast NE (Zone 5b)
Charter ATP Member I was one of the first 300 contributors to the plant database! Lilies Irises Cat Lover Dog Lover
Heucheras Daylilies Celebrating Gardening: 2015
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stilldew
Jul 29, 2016 6:02 AM CST
I see that your border is really narrow. A trenching spade probably will work best for you. You will have to divide fairly often to keep them healthy. Maybe when you have them out of the soil you can replace some of the clay with compost to make it easier next time. I've worked on my soil over 25 years and most of it is finely getting easier to work with.

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