Phlox is one of my favourite perennial plants and comes in a variety of forms, I really like the tall sort that flower in July and August. Phlox plants, given the ideal conditions, spread quite rapidly, however, they become non-productive from the middle as the wood gets older. The solution to this problem is to split the plants once they are dormant, you can do this from early winter all the way through until spring but always before they have produced the first shoots of the year.
Follow this simple and easy to use guide to create lots of new productive plants and the best thing is it’s free!
- Carefully, using a garden fork, loosen the soil around the root ball of the plant. I always cut off the dead stems from the previous seasons growth, I think that it makes the job easier as you can really see what you are doing.
- Carefully lift the root ball, trying not to break any roots in the process.
- Split the plant using 2 back to back garden forks, depending upon the size of the root ball you can either using large digging forks or small hand-held forks. I tend to leave my plants for 3 years before splitting them so I usually go for the larger option. Dont be afraid of being heavy-handed, plants are quite resilient, as long as each section that you divide has sufficient good quality roots then you will have a viable plant for the next growing season.
- You can usually divide a Phlox plant into 10-15 new plants every 3 years, even after discarding the dead non-productive wood from the centre of the plant. Pot up or plant directly into their final location. In spring you will see the shoots from each of these new, free plants.
Don’t be afraid to give it a go!
The first time I attempted splitting phlox using this method I was terrified that I would kill the plant. However, don’t worry plants are really very robust, especially whilst they are in their dormant phase (not actively growing). Just get out there and give it a go, as long as each section of split plant has a bit of good root it should produce a new and vigorous plant.
There is a garden in the Alsace that has huge areas dedicated to perennial plants with large drifts of Phlox, Delphinium and Lupins which they let grow in spring and strim down in the autumn. The effect is fantastic, naturalistic and low maintenance, if you have the space why not give it a try. If you are limited on garden space you can either give the new plants a way or sell them, all it’s cost you is a little time.
This is not the only way to grow new Phlox plants from your existing stock, you can also collect the seeds and grow them from seed or you can take basal root cuttings. If you have any questions please feel free to drop me an email in English or in German and I will do my best to help. You can email me at firstname.lastname@example.org