Rachel is a passionate plantsperson, YouTuber and author living in Ireland. She grows a wide range of hardy subtropical and tropical plants.
Guide to Lifting and Dividing Perennial Geraniums
Today I'm going to tell you how to divide your perennial geraniums (in the demo above, I divide one of my favorites—Geranium 'Anne Thomson'). Autumn and spring are the ideal times to divide perennials when the plants are not in active growth.
How to Divide Geraniums in 5 Easy Steps
Most geraniums benefit from division every two to three years. This year I noticed that one of my geraniums was spreading a little further than I wanted it to, so I decided to reduce its size. Here's how I did it.
Step 1: Cut Back All Foliage
Having selected my clump, the first thing I do is cut back all of the plant's foliage. This is Geranium 'Anne Thomson', and it's a scrambler, so its foliage has spread wide.
Once the foliage is removed, we can see more easily exactly where the clump begins and ends. It's autumn now, anyway, so this plant would soon lose all its top growth to frost. I do the plant no harm by removing it a little earlier.
Besides, once I divide the geranium, I want all its energy to go into re-establishing roots rather than sustaining top growth.
Step 2: Loosen the Root Ball and Shake Off Excess Soil
Taking a fork, I dig around the geranium's root ball, starting at an inch or two out from the plant. I go all the way around, loosening as I go. Finally, I lever the plant up and shake off any excess soil.
Step 3: Decide Where to Split Your Plant
The next step is to carefully examine my clump and decide where I want to split it. If you want lots of plants, you can make smaller divisions and pot them up and keep them well watered until they bulk up. Each division should have roots and top growth.
In the demo above, I wanted one large division to place back in the original spot and maybe one or two extras for the garden.
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Step 4: Divide Your Geranium
Some geraniums will come apart easily, and you can split the root ball with your hands, untangling roots as you go. If your geranium cannot be divided manually, take a spade, place it on the spot where you want to divide and then slice firmly downwards. The action seems quite brutal, but your plant will be fine.
Try to ensure that you cut straight down, and get help if you aren't strong enough to do it yourself. You don't want the spade to slip sideways and sever the top growth from the roots.
Slice your clump into the required number of plants.
Step 5: Plant Root Ball and Water In
Finally, replant your divided geraniums. I like to take the opportunity to add a little compost to the hole to give my plant the best start.
Water the division in well. The great thing about dividing plants in autumn or spring is that the rainy weather should ensure your divisions are kept properly hydrated until established.
So at this time of year, when the weather is dry, why not divide one of your favorite garden geraniums? Next year's garden will thank you for it.
(If you're not sure what kind of geranium you have, here's an article about the difference between pot geraniums and garden geraniums.)
More Geranium Tips and Tricks
- The 4 Best Hardy Geraniums for Your Garden
Geraniums are a must for any garden, due to their sprawling yet unobtrusive nature. Here are four hardy geraniums to consider planting in your garden.
- How to Propagate Pot Geraniums (Pelargoniums) From Cuttings
Propagating pelargoniums from stem cuttings is extremely easy, and it's so fun waiting for that new growth to show!
© 2021 Rachel Darlington