Daylilies forum: How to divide a daylily

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Name: Juli
(Zone 5b)
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daylily
Feb 19, 2012 6:46 PM CST
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ItyVIINI1ZQ&feature=related

This is my preferred method to divide a daylily. I was taught how to do this by a couple good friends who are excellent hybridizers with large sales gardens.

I do not cut down through a clump with a shovel, as you slice through to many roots and crowns. If you then plant a sliced division those sliced roots and plants die. They might not "rot" but they will decay. I prefer to leave as little cut crowns or roots as possible. By using the method in this video, you will get very little root damage, or crown damage. If all the soil does not come off with a hose, simply soak the clump in a tub of water for a few hours or overnight, then hose off again. One thing I do differently is before cutting into a division with a knife, I will use a large, flat blade screw driver and wiggle it in there, further loosening the fans so that you can then wiggle the fans apart. If I do have any cut roots, I will trim them out with a sharp pair of scissors. I put powdered Comet cleanser on any open cuts, and let them dry a few hours before planting, to form a "scar"... the bleach in the Comet is supposed to help prevent decay. I do know others who put rooting hormone on the open wounds - but I find this makes lots of little fans come up where the wound was, and they are a pain to try to separate.

I'll typically replant a few double fans in a large hole - placing them like spokes of a wheel, with one division in the center. This makes it easy in the future to dig down and remove a double fan or so to give or sell without disturbing the remaining divisions.

I have an old bench to sit on, and an old small short table that I put beside it to put the clump on while washing and dividing. Easier on the back and knees than bending down!

I have seen clumps forced apart with big garden forks - there is even a "tool" for dividing daylilies now - but I would not use it! To many broken roots! I no longer cut them with a shovel or spade. Have not done it that way for 20 years - ever since learning the method in this video. I once had help here to dig a lot of plants and the person used an electric knife to cut down into the plant in the ground. Some of those plants to this day are not the same vigor that they used to be. I hope to finish digging, properly dividing and replanting them this summer. I have divided daylilies many ways through the year and find the very best results with the method shown on the video.

If you live in other parts of the country, or have other soil, you may have a different method.

If you have never divided them the way that is shown in the video - try it this season and see what you think!

Anyone else have any tricks or tips on dividing daylilies?


Clump of Concrete Blonde

Thumb of 2012-02-20/daylily/900dbe
[Last edited by daylily - Feb 19, 2012 8:42 PM (+)]
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Name: Michele
Cantonment, FL zone 8b
Seller of Garden Stuff Region: United States of America Pollen collector Dragonflies I was one of the first 300 contributors to the plant database! Region: Florida
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tink3472
Feb 19, 2012 8:36 PM CST
That's a very good video you posted.
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Name: Betty
Bakersfield, CA
Charter ATP Member I was one of the first 300 contributors to the plant database! Birds The WITWIT Badge Region: United States of America Roses
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Betja
Feb 19, 2012 8:44 PM CST
An excellent video, Juli. Now I understand how it's supposed to be done! Is it possible to save these for quick reference in a sticky?

Betty
Name: Juli
(Zone 5b)
Region: United States of America Charter ATP Member Cottage Gardener Daylilies Garden Photography Enjoys or suffers cold winters
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daylily
Feb 19, 2012 8:49 PM CST
I plan on adding the "topics" to the Info sticky.
Name: Betty
Bakersfield, CA
Charter ATP Member I was one of the first 300 contributors to the plant database! Birds The WITWIT Badge Region: United States of America Roses
Irises Cat Lover Daylilies Region: California Garden Ideas: Level 1
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Betja
Feb 19, 2012 8:50 PM CST
Fantastic!!!

Betty
Name: shirlee
southeast (Zone 6b)
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mistyfog
Feb 19, 2012 11:41 PM CST
Thanks Juli for that very informative and interesting article.
I am adding powdered comet to my product list.
Excellent!
Name: Cynthia (Cindy)
Melvindale, Mi (Zone 5b)
Hybridizer Irises Butterflies Charter ATP Member Birds Cat Lover
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Hemlady
Feb 20, 2012 7:55 AM CST
Excellent video!!!!
Lighthouse Gardens
Name: Michele
Cantonment, FL zone 8b
Seller of Garden Stuff Region: United States of America Pollen collector Dragonflies I was one of the first 300 contributors to the plant database! Region: Florida
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tink3472
Feb 20, 2012 8:09 AM CST
I will say that I do cut the roots if I'm having trouble getting the fans seperated. I try to only cut the long, stringy ones not the big fat ones. Most of the time I have to trim them when I pot them up because they just aren't going to fit into the pot. I don't seem to have a problem here with cutting them, but it may be more of a problem in the northern parts since there is a shorter growing season.
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Name: Jean
Hot Springs Vlg, AR, DeLand, F
Region: Florida Daylilies Garden Ideas: Master Level Celebrating Gardening: 2015
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rocklady
Feb 20, 2012 10:49 AM CST
Great video!!!! Comet -- who would have thought???
Any day you wake up on the sunny side of the grass is a good day.

"The moving hand writes and having writ moves on. Neither all thy piety nor all thy wit can lure it back to cancel half a line nor all thy tears wash out a word of it." The Rubiyat by Omar Khayyam
Name: Doris&David Bishop
Cartersville, Ga. (Zone 7b)
Daylilies Cat Lover Clematis Region: Georgia Garden Art
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Casshigh
Feb 20, 2012 10:55 AM CST
I divide daylilies as this video shows and as Juli added with a few minor differences. I use a garden fork with prongs (I call it a prize fork) instead of a shovel. There is less damage to the roots when using a garden fork. I also use a screw driver instead of a knife to avoid more damage to the crown. If you will use the strongest jet of water from a water nozzle, it will remove not only the soil on the roots but force the roots and fans apart. Turn the clump upside down, on its side, and right side up as you hose it off with the nozzle. With some wiggling and twisting of fans, the fans will come apart in your hands. For those tougher clumps, I use the screw driver. I force the screw driver into the clump and wiggle it. Then I use my hands to do more twisting. Sometimes I reapply the stong jet of water into the areas where I have used the screwdriver. The clump will come apart in small clumps which can then be further divided with my hands. I have not lost fans and roots that are lost using other methods. I have air dried any part of the crown or roots that may have been opened, so as to allow these areas to harden over before replanting or shipping. I will now keep a can of Comet cleanser handy to speed up this process. Juli, I have an old picnic table and large plastic wheelbarrow that I use for potting. I can also use this table for washing and dividing to save my back. This is in a shady area at our storage building. The faucet is next to the storage building. Previously, I sat on the steps of the storage building, hosed off the clumps, and worked the fans apart. It is convenient and comfortable for the old body, too.

This may sound like it takes a lot time, but it does not. For those that drive a shovel into the clump to divide, you are cutting into the crown or cutting into fans and roots. You are wounding the clump and inviting rot or decay into the clump. You will lose more fans doing dividing that way. As Juli said, try the method she has provided for us.

Doris
"Anything worth doing is worth overdoing"~~~David Bishop
http://daylilyfans.com/bishop/
Name: Juli
(Zone 5b)
Region: United States of America Charter ATP Member Cottage Gardener Daylilies Garden Photography Enjoys or suffers cold winters
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daylily
Feb 20, 2012 1:15 PM CST
I remember visiting Shooter's garden. John had a 2x4 frame "table" at kitchen counter height for dividing. The neat thing was, the top was covered with either chicken wire or hardware cloth, allowing the water and dirt to flow through. I have wanted one like it ever since!

I have known about the Comet cleanser for so long! I can't remember who i learned this trick from. I think any powder cleaner that has chlorine in it would work. I keep the can out in the garden shed with all the other stuff. Been using the same can for years!
Name: Donna Craiglow
Lancaster, Ohio
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GardenGirl
Feb 20, 2012 2:01 PM CST
Just finding my way back to the forums but Im a HUGE daylily fanatic.. I use this method with a few variations as well but mostly once they are out of teh ground I twist by hand and water with a hose sprayer to get the clay off the roots. Excellent method Thumbs up
Name: Cynthia (Cindy)
Melvindale, Mi (Zone 5b)
Hybridizer Irises Butterflies Charter ATP Member Birds Cat Lover
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Hemlady
Feb 21, 2012 8:51 AM CST
I use this method also, but I learned from the video to trim all the leaves down short. I had never done that but I can see that it would be much easier to see what you are doing. Also I don't use a screwdriver to separate fans but use a tool called a root knife that I got from Lee Valley tools. I insert the knife between fans and separate. Most of the time just twisting the fans will separate them without using the knife. But, then again, some of the large tetraploid clumps can be difficult.
Lighthouse Gardens
Name: Michele
Cantonment, FL zone 8b
Seller of Garden Stuff Region: United States of America Pollen collector Dragonflies I was one of the first 300 contributors to the plant database! Region: Florida
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tink3472
Feb 21, 2012 9:01 AM CST
Trimming the foliage is good also because water is lost from foliage through transpiration and when you trim the foliage less water is lost and the plant is less stressed trying to re-establish the roots.
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Name: Doris&David Bishop
Cartersville, Ga. (Zone 7b)
Daylilies Cat Lover Clematis Region: Georgia Garden Art
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Casshigh
Feb 21, 2012 9:51 AM CST
I failed to mention that I trim the foliage, too. That is my second step after lifting the clump and shaking off the soil. You can get the water into the roots much better with the foliage trimmed.
"Anything worth doing is worth overdoing"~~~David Bishop
http://daylilyfans.com/bishop/
Name: Cynthia (Cindy)
Melvindale, Mi (Zone 5b)
Hybridizer Irises Butterflies Charter ATP Member Birds Cat Lover
Region: United States of America Region: Michigan Vegetable Grower Daylilies Hummingbirder Heucheras
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Hemlady
Feb 21, 2012 9:59 AM CST
Thanks, that is good to know. I plan on doing that the next time I divide a clump. I always trim for shipping so really no difference I guess.
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Name: bb
north of boston on the coast
I was one of the first 300 contributors to the plant database! Garden Ideas: Level 1
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lilylady
Feb 21, 2012 10:56 AM CST
I'll see if I can find my pics of demonstrating dividing done with Ellen Laprise at PDS.

Just a couple of comments here.

Not that I do it, but I have done it...

If you need a fast increase - you can divide a FAN! Yup! you read that correctly! ;-) I did a test with a not so expensive daylily with Red Lane Gardens / Can when she was visiting several years ago. I also did divide a fan of a newly introduced daylily of mine. (What's to loose? a fan?)

We divided a FAN into two and then into 4. We let the wound heal for a few hours and then just planted them in the ground.

No problem - they grew! I have sandy soil. Kept them moist along with the other rows of divided out plants but did NOT do anything special to them. This was done in the late spring.

Another thing that might be of interest and a surprise. When I was visiting Gary Colby in Cal, he was demonstrating how not to worry about growing daylilies to my niece, a new gardener, as we were out there buying some plants for her. He took a daylily. Divided it down to a fan. Cut the roots half off. Cut the roots again. And then cut them pretty darn close to the crown. He also cut the top off to about an inch.

YUP! they grew! Took more time than I would want for recovery, but he handed it over to her and she grew it on! Of course, CAL has a longer season than out here near Boston. But the point was taken. Most daylilies will recover and grow just fine, not matter what we do.

Now...

this is not to say that you should abuse the poor things! The better care, the better the result, I always say!!!!
[Last edited by lilylady - Feb 21, 2012 2:59 PM (+)]
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Name: Michele
Cantonment, FL zone 8b
Seller of Garden Stuff Region: United States of America Pollen collector Dragonflies I was one of the first 300 contributors to the plant database! Region: Florida
Birds Butterflies Container Gardener Hummingbirder Garden Ideas: Level 2 Hosted a Not-A-Raffle-Raffle
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tink3472
Feb 21, 2012 1:04 PM CST
I've read about dividing a single fan into 4, never tried it. Also, if you break or cut a fan off accidentally and it has just a hint of the brown left at the base (looks like part of old foliage) sometimes you can get it to root. You could use a rooting hormone to help it along.
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[Last edited by tink3472 - Feb 21, 2012 1:06 PM (+)]
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Name: Juli
(Zone 5b)
Region: United States of America Charter ATP Member Cottage Gardener Daylilies Garden Photography Enjoys or suffers cold winters
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daylily
Feb 21, 2012 2:48 PM CST
I have done that, Michele. I don't keep anything in pots, but have found that the broken off ones will often root if I tie them between two stakes for support until new roots grow.
Name: Mona
Guntown, Ms (Zone 7b)
I love nature & everything outdoors
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monalisa18
Feb 21, 2012 7:38 PM CST
I'll tell you my little daylily abuse story that to me is amazing.

I had about 40 of the 18oz red cups that I had grown seeds in from 2006. These were seedling that I recieved as bonus seeds and few of my seeds that I didn't really want. I just couldn't throw away, so I planted them in the red cups back in 2006. They stayed in the greenhouse all that winter with my other seeds but I never got around to potting that 40 up into bigger pots that Spring. So, I set them in a tray outside under my big old oak tree. Remeber 2006!!!! They did get a little watering when I would water the group of pots that were close to them that summer and fall. Along came winter of 2007 and they are still outside in these 18oz cups. Fast forward till 2012. Yeap, I didn't get around to potting those 40 cups up until last week. Only 28 of the 40 lived, but still for 5 years that survived summers of 105 degrees in those cups and lived. Then winters sometimes below 10 degrees and they lived. When I was potting them up last week, I found that 3 of the cups had actually grown from 1 plant to 3 plants and they were about the size of a small straw, the coffee stirring straw size.

So, yes, daylilies are very hardy plants!!
Now, you know my worst case of abuse on my daylilies. It'll be interesting to see if those plants will actually grow now that they have the proper pots, fertilize and mulch.

Blessings, Mona

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