Dividing your perennials and shrubsIt is not too late to divide your perennials and shrubs. Dividing is a good way to renew plantings that have become root bound and overgrown, or have become crowded under taller shrubs. Some things have to be divided every other year or so, or else they will die out. A good example of this is Creeping Phlox, Iris, Coreopsis, Shasta Daisies, and Chrysanthemums, just to name a few. As soon as you see the tips of new growth sprouting up you can dig up the clumps and divide them. Use a large sharp knife and starting at the crown split the clump into several clumps, depending upon how large it is. A sharp spade can also be used to do this. Plant them as soon as possible in their new spot and water them in. Do not plant them deeper than the crown or else the planting will rot and die. Do not fertilize them until they begin to grow well, as the new roots need to develop the most before the top grows out. Just keep them watered when dry. Watch them over the hot summer, and give them extra water when needed, even if they are drought resistant plants such as lavender. Many people think that if a plant is drought resistant they won't have to water them. This is false, for the plants are only drought resistant after they become established.
Be careful before you dig up desert hardy shrubs such as Texas sage, or Texas Mountain Laurel. Many of these resent being moved and probably will just die. Flowers and shrubs with a long tap root also resent being moved such as Desert Bird of Paradise, and they cannot be divided well. It's best to leave these alone, or else cut them down and start over with new, smaller potted plants somewhere else.
Many shrubs such as lavender, yellow jasmine bushes, and asters grow air roots along the stems near the ground, and they are easy to start just by pulling some roots up and replanting them. These are also easy to layer. Layering is where you bend over a stem and put some dirt on it to hold it to the ground. By fall you'll be able to cut off the stems done this way and plant a nicely rooted branch.
A lot of plants will also easily start from cuttings. All the mints are easily started this way, and many water loving shrubs such as willow. You can start roses from cuttings. For amateurs, it is best to start these in the fall. Cut off a new pliable rose stem at least 6-8 inches long. Old stiff branches are nearly useless for this process. Scrape the cambium outer layer of the stem a bit, wet it, dip it into hormone rooting powder (available at any nursery), and plant it in a flower pot of course sand. Keep it damp, but not soggy. The sand must be coarse construction sand and not play sand so it will drain easily. By spring you might have a little rose shrub to plant out. It will have grown it's own roots and will not be grafted, of course. This is a good thing, as roses grow best on their own roots, and are much more vigorous than grafted ones. Many roses root easily this way, but some are more stubborn.
Another thing you can move around in the early spring are bulbs. Many bulbs die back in the summer and go dormant, so it is hard to find them in the fall when it is recommended that you move them. In the spring, when they are just showing the tips of new growth you can move them without damaging the spring flowers. Be careful not to break off the sprouts on lilies and amaryllis or you will have broken off the bud also. If so, then they will not flower again until the next year. You will find bublets sprouting off the large mother bulb. Break these off and plant them as deep as they are in diameter. They will grow just fine, and in a few years will soon become large established plants.
Sharing your plants with your friends this way is an economical and fun way to get a lot of vigorously growing plants, as they will neither be root bound in pots nor stunted. Many times this is the best way to quickly fill out your garden. There are many plant sharing clubs, and you can find those nearest you online. Just don't try to dig up a large shrub and replant it too late in the spring. It needs the cooler weather to over come the shock of transplanting, and establish some roots to get it through the summer. If you miss getting it moved early, than it is best to wait until fall before attempting this.