Divide and plant
September is a good month to rejuvenate your flower beds for the fall and winter growing seasons. Now is a good time to divide and plant bulbs and perennials. There are three reasons to divide perennials: to control the size of the plants, to help rejuvenate them so that they keep blooming, and to increase their number.
Gingers are among our finest perennial plants. During the summer months they have produced an abundance of growth. To assure good growth next year, dig up and divide rhizomes. Shell ginger (Alpinia zerumbet) is a vigorous grower that produces magnificent pinkish, shell-shaped flowers looking much like a cluster of grapes. Propagation of the ginger is easy. Dig up a rhizome and cut it leaving an immature sprout or two on each section. The rhizomes should be planted only about 2 to 3 inches deep. The gingers require little care other than moist soil, afternoon shade and occasional fertilization. (Always check your local ordinances before fertilizing.)
Daylilies (Hemerocallis spp.) which have grown prolifically during the summer months are now beginning a short period of dormancy. As daylilies age they produce a thick clump of growth over time which can result in weak plants that do not bloom well. Divide them by digging up the entire clump, separate each individual plant or fan and replant them a little higher than they were in the original clump. There will be large tuberlike growths on the root system — do not remove these storage organs that help to promote further growth.
Stokes aster (Stokesia laevis) is another perennial that has a tendency to become too dense so it should be divided now. The long, large roots may be reduced to make transplanting easier. Like the daylilies, there are many plants within the clump. They should be separated and set slightly higher than their original depth.
This is also the time of year to dig bulbs. Separate and plant the small bulbs that form around the large central bulb, and then replant the older bulb.
Amaryllis (Hippeastrum) has a tendency to draw its bulbs into the ground. When replanting, make sure the top third of the bulb is exposed to ensure blooms. This applies to other bulbs in the Amaryllis family like Spider lily and/or Alligator lily (Hymenocallis spp.) and Rain lily (Zephyranthes spp). The large native Crinum or Swamp lily (Crinum americanum) can also be divided now.
Compiled by Theresa Badurek, urban horticulture extension agent, UF/IFAS Pinellas County Extension Service. For additional landscape and garden information, visit pinellascountyextension.org. For tips and information about what's growing in Pinellas, go to facebook.com/PinellasExtension.