Rhizomes can flourish for years in your garden once you have found the perfect spot to get them growing. Sometimes these unique plants need dividing and extra attention because their stems grow along the surface of the soil in a way that can lead to them becoming compact or damaged. When too many rhizomes crowd and propagate in the same area, they can begin to die out because of their nutrient and space needs.
Rather than let rhizomes die out and keep them all in the same garden bed for the growing season, it is best to remove older rhizomes in order to bring them back to life with dividing.
Tips for Dividing Rhizomes
Inspect Crowded Garden Beds
At the end of each growing season take some time to inspect how crowded your rhizome plants have become. If you notice that there is no space next year for new plants to come up, it is smart to get ahead of the problem and remove healthy plants for dividing now rather than trying to identify rhizomes in the spring that need revitalizing.
Watch for Rhizomes Out of Soil
A clear sign that rhizomes are in need of attention is when they begin to poke out of the soil. If you can see the many knobs and trails of rhizomes above the soil, your plants are struggling to fill their needs and should be divided. Remove these rhizomes from your garden beds first. They require special attention because they are the plants that are struggling.
Wait for Blooms to Fade
Do not remove and divide rhizomes until their blooms have died back and the flower is about to fade. At this point use a spade to clear the soil from around each rhizome and carefully pull it away from the soil with as much of the root system attached as possible.
Keep Only Healthy Rhizome Stems
Rhizomes that have died will appear dark in color once all soil has been removed. Cut or remove these parts from the healthy rhizomes in order to ensure a successful division and replanting. The only part of the rhizome that you want is the healthy portions, which can be cut into several pieces and each planted anew.
Trim Plant Foliage
To allow the rhizome the chance to establish itself without wasting extra energy, cut back the existing foliage that is present. The new cut pieces should be left with about a third of their growth visible above the ground so that the plant can sustain itself and you can identify where new plantings are.
Fertilize Soil for Rhizomes
The new garden bed where rhizomes will be planted needs to be fertilized to spur growth. Add bone meal or compost to the soil to a depth of about four inches because rhizomes grow across the soil, rather than down into the bed of soil. Plant rhizomes into a shallow hole and add soil around the stems, without packing soil down too much. To ensure that your plants survive and thrive, add fertilizer to the rhizomes once again in the spring when they begin to bloom.