How to Multiply Your Perennials This Fall - Illinois Farm Bureau Partners How to Multiply Your Perennials This Fall - Illinois Farm Bureau Partners

How to Multiply Your Perennials This Fall

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transplanting perennials

Photo credit: iStock/YinYang

The two best times to transplant perennials are typically during the spring and autumn, when moderate weather causes less stress on the plants. For the fall, transplanting in September through the first two weeks of October gives plants time to establish new roots before going dormant.

Whole plants can be moved, but why not divide what you have to make additional, free plants to increase your gardens?

Water the perennial well in the days prior to transplanting to achieve moist soil and a well-hydrated plant. Do not wait to water until just prior to digging, as this produces soil too wet to work and a plant that does not have time to take up the water. Loosen up the soil in the new location, giving the roots a conducive environment for stretching out.


5 Kinds of Perennial Root Systems

The method of transplanting depends on the type of root system.


Hostas and asters produce small plantlets at the base of the mother plant. Snap off a section containing ample roots and several growing points (eyes). Cut large, dense clumps into sections with a pruning knife. You will find offsets and root ball division the easiest methods.

Surface roots

Creeping sedum and bee balm send out shallow roots, forming new crowns and roots at intervals. Cut the division free and plant in its new site.


Butterfly weed and Oriental poppies challenge the gardener, but they can be moved. Using a sharp knife, cut down through the center of the entire root, making sure each side contains one eye and some roots.

Underground running roots

Plants with this system (hardy geraniums) send out runners underground beyond the mother plant. Simply cut off the sucker and transplant or excavate and divide the entire mother plant.

Woody roots

Candy tuft and sages form new roots where a stem rests on the ground in a process called layering. Once the new plant establishes its independence, sever it and transplant.

See more: Where’s My Perennial Plant?

Ask the Expert

I find too much conflicting gardening information on the internet. How do I know what is correct?

Look for URLs ending in “.edu.” These sites from universities and university Extensions provide science-based information. University of Illinois, Michigan State and Cornell University have factual horticulture information. If you are looking for plant trials, try the Chicago Botanic Gardens site.

When transferring your new plants to their new homes, spread out the root ball as far as possible. If you pre-hydrated before digging and loosened the ground at the new site, this works easily. Plant the new division at the same height that it grew in its old location. Water well and keep the ground moist (not soggy) for a month. Do not fertilize until spring.

You did it! You grew, divided and transplanted new perennials – all for free. Congratulations, you are now an experienced gardener.

1 Comment

  1. Denice Schulz says:

    Can fall mums be planted in the ground for winter after they stop blooming>

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