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Time to Divide and Conquer

Plus you can share your hostas and lilies with friends

Late summer and early fall is a great time to divide and share your hosta and day lily plants with friends and neighbors while reducing over-crowding in the garden.
    One of the big advantages of growing hosta and day lilies is that once they are established, they require little attention. Hostas perform at their best in light shade, but they will tolerate full sun, resulting in more flowers, while day lilies are at their best in full sun.
    Both species tend to divide naturally in the garden, often resulting in over-crowding and decline. Digging and dividing these species every seven to eight years is sufficient to keep them actively growing and healthy.

Please Settle Our Domestic Dispute by Saying I’m Right

Q    We had two liropes on either side of a flowering plant. The liropes became too large, so my husband dug them up. The large hole left behind fills with rain water. As the remaining flowering plant is looking sickly, I told my husband to fill the holes so rain water wouldn’t stand in them. He said that wouldn’t help, so he was going to fill the holes with mulch.
    –Vicki Marsh, Deale

A    If the hole fills with water, drainage is bad and you most likely have hard pan. Filling the hole with mulch only allows more water to collect. Filling the hole with similar soil will stop the water from accumulating. You apparently have a severe drainage problem and need to add soil to fill your hole to prevent water from accumulating. Mulch will not do the trick.

Ask Dr. Gouin your questions at [email protected].
All questions will appear in Bay Weekly. Please include your name and address.

Gardening through
the Seasons

Fans of The Bay Gardener will want the bound volume of his wisdom. Enough Said: A Guide to Gardening Through the Seasons, compiled by the Annapolis Horticulture Society, is on sale for $20 at Greenstreet Gardens in Lothian, Homestead Gardens in both Davidsonville and Severna Park and at Grauel’s Office Supplies in Deale. For direct orders — [email protected] — add $10 postage. The Bay Gardener will inscribe your book and send it by return mail.

    Have no fear in digging and dividing either species because they are tough and can tolerate both abuse and neglect. I generally dig them up starting along the outside edge of the beds and work my way toward the center. I dig them up and toss them into a pile in a shaded area. If you can’t get the work done in one day, sprinkle the pile with water.
    Once the plants have been removed from their respective beds, take time to amend the soil. If you had the soil tested before removing the plants, you will have test results and recommendations at hand. But if you are like most gardeners, rejuvenating the beds is a last-minute idea and you want to get it done as soon as possible.
    If it has been seven or more years since you last improved the soil, the pH has dropped and organic matter has oxidized. For sandy loam to loam, apply one cup of agricultural limestone per square yard. If the soil is a silt or clay loam, apply two cups of agricultural limestone per square yard. Next spread a two-inch-thick layer of compost over the entire area and spade or rototil.
    If you wish to avoid having to repeat this project for as long as possible, replant the bed using only medium-sized plants spaced about a foot apart. If you thoroughly worked the soil, you will find that you simply have to press the plants in. Use a hose with a heavy stream to water the plants. Finish by mulching the plants with compost.