Looking out of the window today, there is a dismal prospect. Flower beds are seas of brown mud, with the poor daffodils, crocus and scylla beaten down by wind and rain the last few days.
It seems impossible in a few weeks the brown will have turned to green. Under that depressing surface, the roots of perennials are taking in the moisture and nutrients the plants need, and some are already showing a trace of green where those first shoots break the ground.
The star magnolia has fat, white buds and a sunny day soon will arrive to encourage those buds to open. I wanted this tree for so long, and I appreciate every day it is in bloom. The forsythia is blooming now, and I should stop whining about rain and wind and recognize the fact it is officially spring.
But there does seem to be a lot of empty space to fill, and one answer to this problem is propagation. We all have plants that can most easily be divided in one way or another at this time of year, and it is not difficult to multiply them and have new plants to fill some of those spaces.
Division is probably the simplest tecnnique to use.
Hostas, day lilies, chrysanthemums, primroses and daisies are receptive to division and, indeed, the original plant will do better when relieved of some of its growth.
Some clumps of mums, Shasta daisies and phlox deteriorate in the center as they grow larger and the center is deprived of light and nutrients. Heuchera and iris will heave out of the ground if they are too crowded.
There are two main ways to accomplish division. Either dig up the whole plant, wash off enough soil that you can see what you are doing and divide the clump with a knife, saw or your fingers. This obviously will not work for large, heavy hostas and the like, and so it will be easier to leave the whole thing in the ground, chop through with a spade and lift out one portion to replant or to divide further.
Now is the time to attend to this chore, while your enthusiasm is high because it is a heavy and dirty job, but also very rewarding. Perennials that are still partly dormant suffer little shock and have a long growing season ahead to settle into a new home.
Earlier this week, my granddaughter’s husband, Tom, dug out my raspberry canes for me, and I potted them up for the upcoming plant sale.
The members of the Seneca County Master Gardeners are busy potting up divisions from their gardens at this time to prepare for the annual plant sale May 18 and 19 at the Seneca County Fairgrounds.
This will be at the second flea market of the season, and we expect to have a great supply of perennials, shrubs, vines, small trees, herbs and the famous rhubarb in bundles as well as plants for you to start your own pie supply. There will be a book of rhubarb recipes available.
New this year are flowering annuals in decorated pots and there will be a table of gardening tools, books, magazines and other treasures. The education committee will be staffing a table with reference materials and leaflets ready to answer your questions and give advice. Look for us just to the right of the main entrance, under our new tarpaulins.
An alert from the BYGL (online at bygl.osu.edu) states that due to the serious invasive pathogen impatiens downy mildew, there will be a shortage of impatiens in nurseries this year.
So, if you depend on colorful impatiens for shady areas, grab a flat as soon as you spot some.
I mentioned this newsletter a few weeks ago, but made a mistake with an extra space in the address. I encourage you to subscribe to this free newsletter from Bowling Green State University.
Janet Del Turco is a local gardener and a graduate of the Ohio State University Master Gardener program.
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