Monday, September 25, 2017

Dividing Daylilies

Here are some thoughts that I shared recently with a monthly newspaper from Danville, Vermont. Read on.


A wet morning at the flower farm after quite a storm last night. 1.1” of rain which is what we really needed. By the time you begin to read this, we’ll also know what happened with the various hurricanes. The rain will help set in all the daylilies we are digging and dividing and the results will be noticeable next spring.

This time of year I receive a number of inquires about fall planting. Folks stop by the flower farm and see late blooming daylilies, some still heavy with colorful blooms and the perpetual question is “Can I divide mine now?” The answer is always “Yes”. This time of year is a super time for perennials, shrubs and trees but try to get the work done by the time the ground temperature begins to fall below 50 degrees. Usually this is around the third or fourth week of October. Probably the only caution involves you, the gardener, since digging a clump of daylilies that’s 3-4-5 years ago can be quite a task. I recommend getting your tools together and then doing a little stretching before you begin.

As example,  I just divided a small clump of a favorite of mine named Ruby Spider. This is a vigorous grower with a large root system and a 9-10” diameter bloom after a couple years. The blooms are abundant making it an obvious and coveted part of your gardens come bloom time.

To divide your daylilies, pick your choice of tool. I use a regular long handled shovel but some use a garden spade or one or even two spade forks. Dig straight down, encircling the plant about 10” away from its base. Then push down with your tool and slowly pry up as you encircle the plant again. I sure don’t recommend using an old tool and certainly not that  “boy do I like that tool!” with the weathered handle and an age and weakness that you wish would go away.

Once the clump is loose you can pull it up and out of the hole if it’s not too large. You can cut it in half or pieces in the hole by again cutting straight down on the plant and wiggling your tool back and forth until the clump splits. Be a little ruthless. This is where it’s good to have a helper, especially for large clumps. I use a garden hose to clean off as much dirt and weeds as I can and then I cut off all the plant’s foliage to 4-5” from what was ground level.

At this point you have a true idea how big your plant is and can decide how you want to divide it. I always use cheap, serrated kitchen knives that I buy from box stores. In the case of this Ruby Spider, I wanted two clumps with +3 big fans each. If you have a daylily that you want multiple fans of, you can split a clump down to single fans as long as each one has a root system to get started over with. From this point it’s back into the ground just as you would plant them if you had purchased a box, bag or pot of plants.

Enjoy the 4 image pictorial review of what I tried to describe. If you have questions, call us at 802-426-3506, email at or come visit us until Columbus Day at Vermont Flower Farm, 2263 US Route 2, Marshfield, VT 05658.  We’re always available to help you grow your green thumb!