Planting and Dividing Perennials: Now’s The Time!

planting and dividing perennials
Photo by Eddy Boom

It’s getting to be the last call for planting perennials! That’s the kind of plant that grows over the spring and summer, dies in the cold months, and then grows again from roots in the spring. Most should be placed in the spring, after the last chance of frost. And while it’s taken a while, nearly all of us are past the last frost. (Not that we’re ignoring you, Minnesota.)

The best time to plant

If your weather is already steadily hot, then it’s better to plant a perennial when the sun is not at its brightest.  The best time to plant is in the early morning or evening when the temperatures are a bit cooler. The ground should be wet for planting and watered often if the weather is dry and hot. New plants must be protected from harsher conditions, if the weather turns unexpectedly cold, they should be covered with a tarp or blanket.

Perennials vs annuals

Some last for only a few years, others can come back year after year after year. Flowers and plants that need to be reseeded every year are call annuals. Annuals produce seeds to keep their species alive while perennials have the ability to grow again from their roots, bulbs, or tubers. Often perennials that survive through harsh conditions take a few years of growth to be able to produce flowers. Perennials include a wide variety of plants, including fruits, herbs, flowers, and some vegetables. We can use the term also to describe trees like the maple and pine.

Some hardier perennials can be planted in the summer or early fall. They must have time to establish their roots system before the first frost. It takes at least a month for a perennial to do this.  Without the proper roots system, a perennial will not be able to survive the harsh winter months.


Because perennials return year after year, occasionally they need to be thinned out to keep them looking their best.  When the plant gets too large, the center will begin to look droopy and wilted because it is not getting enough sun and water.  It is best to divide the plants before this begins to happen to keep the plant at its healthiest.  It is most beneficial to thin the majority of perennials every three years.

Uprooting any plant is a shock.  Water the plants well before beginning to dig.  It is preferable to transplant most plants prefer in the spring, although there are some plants like peonies that are best moved in the early fall.  Have the new location prepared before beginning to dig out the existing plants to make the transition as quick as possible.  Take special care of both the existing plants and the transplanted plants after the move to ensure their health and longevity–and enjoy the benefits of having some perennial perennials!