Archives > July 2017

Dividing Hostas

Hostas are a wonderful shade foliage plant with leaves in variegated hues of greens and chartreuses.  In the summer months of July and early August they flower with white or lavender flowers. For some varieties, the flowers are fragrant.

Dividing hostas is easy to do.  The rule of thumb whenever moving or dividing any perennial is to time it with their period of bloom.  If it’s a spring or summer bloomer, move it after it has bloomed; and if it is a fall bloomer, move it in spring or early summer so it will establish well enough to bloom later.  For hostas, because they are a summer bloomer, do the move after they are done, like in August.

Before dividing any plant, decide where it is to go, and prepare the space for the incoming plant first.  Make sure the soil is soft and the hole is dug.  You may even add a little compost to the bottom of the hole to enrich the soil. Divide the hosta root by first getting a clear view of the base of the plant – move any old dried leaves out of the way – decide on where you would like to divide it, and with a spade, take aim, and go straight down with a clean slice using a freshly washed shovel.  Clean tools decrease the spread of bacteria.

Take the divided root to its new home and fill it in with good quality soil, remembering to keep the crown at ground level.  Do not bury the crown or it will rot.  Water well; keep evenly moist to establish it.  Avoid over watering this new root and it should grow well.

Perennials That Hate Being Moved

All plants, actually, don’t like to be moved.  There are a few reasons for this:

  • By virtue of their nature of being a stationary object, they were never intended to be moved in the first place.
  • Moving plants damages their microscopic root hairs.
  • The new location requires a period of adjustment for the plant.
  • Physical damage to other parts of the plant, like leaves & stems, affects their growth.
  • Avoid moving perennials when they’re in flower. For spring & summer perennials, move them after they are done blooming.  For fall bloomers, move them early in the spring or early summer so they can get established and bloom in the fall.


Almost all plants can tolerate a move:

  • It’s best to move them when they are dormant.
  • It’s best to take the largest piece of root possible.
  • Dig down deeply and vertically as opposed to digging at an angle. That way you can maximize the amount of root you take.
  • Be sure take along the crown of the plant. The crown is its heart, and if you damage or don’t take the heart, you lose the plant.


Tap roots:

  • Perennials with deep tap roots hate being moved.
  • Carrots are an example of a tap root.
  • Tap roots make plants resilient to harsh climatic conditions.
  • Are mostly singular, and they are very difficult to divide without inflicting a lot of damage to the plant.


The perennials listed below all have deep tap roots and the success moving them is limited.

  • Acontium (Monkshood)
  • Asclepias (Butterfly Weed)
  • Baptisia (False Indigo)
  • Dicentra (Bleeding Heart)
  • Eryngium (Sea Holly)
  • Dictamnus
  • Limonium
  • Lupines
  • Oriental poppies
  • Peony