Crown division is the easiest propagation method that amateur gardeners can utilise to show off their skills. It is a form of plant propagation in which new plants are not grown from seeds or bulbs but are rather separated from the parent plant. The crown of a plant is where its stem meets the roots. The idea is to divide the plant at its crown so that each separated plant has its own shoot and root system, and is capable of producing new plant. This propagation technique has long been used to propagate bulbs such as garlic and saffron. Flowering plants like Orchids, Carnations, Rose plant, Daylilies and Dahlias are also commonly propagated by this method.
Reasons for Crown Division
Crown division is done when the plants are overgrown or needs rejuvenation or when you want to grow more plants. It is especially helpful for perennial plants. For plants that have died off in the centre or appear weak, the crown division process removes the dead parts of the plant, and encourages the plant to re-grow healthier foliage and roots. Reduced flowering is a sign that crown division is necessary.
Timing for Crown Division
The plant should be divided when it is dormant. Divide plants that bloom in summer or winter, in the spring when the first new growth starts to appear and the ones that bloom in spring should be divided in summer or fall after the last flowers fade. This timing allows the plant to concentrate the energy to the root system so gives the roots enough time to re-establish before flowering begins. Types of plants suitable for propagation through crown division include herbaceous perennials, ferns and most ornamental grasses. But avoid this type of propagation method on woody plants or on plants with long tap roots because they do not respond well to crown division.
Performing the Crown Division
Crown division on plants with fibrous and delicate root system can be easily done by tearing apart the roots with fingers or by cutting them down with a pair of scissors. However, for plants with densely packed or thick crowns, which can be difficult to deal with, dig up the plant or a section of the plant using a sharp shovel or a garden fork. Slide the tool into the soil 2 or 3 inches from the edge of the colony and pull back on the handle to lift the roots from the soil. Shake off the extra dirt from the crown so you can see exactly which sections of the parent plant you would like to remove. Pull apart or cut the crown into sections, with each section containing at least one shoot.
If you don’t want to reduce the size of the parent plant, then you should remove only a few divisions from around the edge of the parent plant. However, if you don’t mind reducing the size of the parent plant then you can completely divide the parent plant into small, equal size pieces.
Replanting Crown Divisions
The crown divisions can be transferred immediately to the new location or they can be kept in a pot for later planting. It is important that they get sufficient soil, water and sunlight in the mean time. Make sure to replant them at the same depth in the new location as they were at the original location and in the similar growing conditions. Also, water the divisions well for few weeks until they are well established.
Note that crown division is a very simple form of propagation but it is effective only with a limited number of plants. It will not work on higher forms of landscape plants. If a plant has a single stem emerging from the ground, then it must be propagated by another means.
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