Q: Can I divide my daylilies and liriope now? They look awful.
A: The long summer drought has shriveled and weakened many of our perennials, but recent rains have plumped up the roots.
Your day- lilies and liriope are very resilient plants and should be good candidates for transplanting.
Begin by watering the plants in well for a day or two before attempting to dig them up. It is best if they are well watered even if the foliage is shriveled and brown.
Their roots will be in better shape, and the soil itself will hold together better. Use a good sharp shovel and dig in a circle around the plant.
Wiggle the shovel as you circle the plant to loosen the soil and free roots. You can add some water with the hose if the root mass is not coming up easily.
Have a wheelbarrow or bucket ready to receive the plants. Take a clump of roots and cut cleanly through it with a sharp-bladed shovel or machete. You also can use an old carving knife, but rough soil will dull the blade severely.
Cut the clumps of day- lilies or liriope to plantable size. You may lose a few roots if you chop the clumps into small fist-sized pieces, but most will survive and do well.
Choose a sunny location. It is very important to prepare the new area well.
Dig the trench or hole larger than the clump and fill the bottom with soft soil. Add soil amendments such as peat moss, and blend well. Water the bottom of the hole to settle the soil and remove air pockets, and place the clump of transplants in the hole. Fill with soil and tamp carefully.
Give them a fertilization in spring and your new plants should be fine.
Email Pat Lea at firstname.lastname@example.org.