Welcome back friend,
In South Central PA, we typically have our first frost in Mid-October. Keep in mind that EarthCare is an emergent practice, and climate change can make things even more unpredictable. Keep an eye on the weather, and when the first frost is predicted, then adjust your tasks according to your zone.
This week’s Mindful CleanUp Challenge will help you divide + transplant, before the ground freezes all the way, and the bulb planting window closes for the year.
Why divide + transplant perennials?
Besides letting Nature give you more plants for free, it’s also beneficial for many native wildflowers to be divided. A certain amount of disturbance is good for overall growth and health!
You’ll know it’s time to divide if:
a cluster is starting to die in the middle, which is a sign that it’s overcrowding itself
you’ve noticed flowers are failing to bloom
plants or clusters have outgrown their location
In general, plants that bloom in spring can be divided and transplanted now.
How To Transplant
Use pruners to trim perennial stalks low. While we usually want to leave these standing for insects, in this case, we’re cutting off the top of the plant to reduce energy output, allowing energy to stay in the roots.
→ If it’s a tree or shrub, you just give it a light pruning, being mindful that they don’t all grow back the way perennial plants will.
Add pruned stalks and limbs loosely in or around the compost pile. That will still allow some access for insects to use them as habitat.
Use a spade to dig up the entire root system. Get as much of the roots, and soil clinging to them, as you can.
Transplant into its new home! For guidance on planting, see our blog post about ecological planting methods.
Share extra plants with friends and neighbors, or if there’s nowhere else for them to go, add them to the compost pile.
Visual Learners: Watch Kendra demonstrating how to transplant a perennial aster in this short Instagram Reel. Note: you wouldn’t cut down all the plant matter if this was a tree or shrub.
Plant Spring Bulbs
Fall is the right time to plant flower bulbs that will bloom in Spring.
Feeling a little nervous about dividing and transplanting?
Don’t worry too much! Plants are naturally sending their energy back into their roots now, as they enter dormancy. They’re surprisingly resilient, and the odds are that they’ll come through just fine. You can take some liberty to experiment.
This is an excellent Observe + Interact opportunity!
In community + resilience (like roots in fall),