Division is a very straightforward method of propagation. Simply put, a single large plant can usually be divided into several smaller plants. Most clump forming perennials will happily divide at this time of year. I have a few still in pots that I have not quite got round to planting out, so I am taking the opportunity to increase numbers. So how does one divide a perennial? The short version is “you just divide a perennial”. It’s not hard.

Slightly longer version if it’s not something you’ve tried before:

I started with a lobelia speciosa ‘fan burgundy’, still in its pot. The process is the same if the plant is in the ground, you just have to dig it up first.

How to divide lobelia

I removed the lobelia from the pot.


Depending on the size of the plant or clump, different implements can be used to perform the operation. I have used a saw, a knife, two forks back to back, all sorts. In this case I was able to use my hands. Grabbing the root ball, I dug my fingers and thumbs in to tear the plant into two pieces, and then again to get four or five pieces in total. I could have gone even smaller, the plant will readily fall into smaller and smaller pieces until you just have teeny plantlets. These need a bit more care before planting out, so I have not been greedy this time. Plants like these often have a woody central section, particularly if its a decent sized clump. This can be removed and composted.


These simply need potting up, or planting out. I haven’t yet decided where to plant this lot so I have put them back in 1L pots. I put a little multi-purpose compost in the bottom, plonked the plant in then filled in around the sides, firming in as I went.


I started with three lobelia plants, and finished with sixteen. They were £15 to buy, so are now effectively decent plants for less than £1 each. Bargain!


The final step was to water them in. I might also give them a boost with a general fertiliser.

This is a very quick and easy way to get more plants. No special equipment is needed, no potions, no mucking about. I did something similar with a clump of helenium last year, you can read about it here. Give it a try!

I’ll be back soon with more propagation piffle.