By Paris Wolfe, Blogmaster, The Herb Society of America
I’m facing a purple coneflower apocalypse. While the prolific posies were busy beauties above ground last summer, they were busier below. They’ve edged out their competition and I have at least two to three times the plants poking through the soil this year.
I surrender. This year I’ll court butterflies and bees with these wild flowers. Why not? They’re low maintenance and bloom through most of the summer calendar.
Meanwhile, because have limited space around my condo, I’ll pot herbs and get cooking.
For those of you with more discipline than I, it may be time to thin the herd. The most likely candidates for dividing include catnip, chamomile, chives, lemon balm, mint, oregano, tarragon, thyme, sweet woodruff and yarrow.
Plants to be divided should be at least two years old, look healthy and not be flowering. Separation is best done in cooler weather, like spring and fall, when the sun isn’t baking the soil. That time is now in the northern part of the country. If you choose to do it in hot climates, be vigilant about watering. You may have to water twice daily to prevent vulnerable roots from drying out.
The best way to divide oregano, thyme, tarragon, lemon grass and similar plants with root balls is to dig up the entire root ball. Then, cut through the root clump with a spade or knife to create two or more clumps.
Chives, lemon balm and bee balm can be gently pulled apart. And, various mints, which have roots that run underground can be left in the ground and separated in small bunches.
Replant the sections or gift extras to neighbors and friends. When I gift to friends, I either wrap the roots in wet newspaper and place them in a plastic grocery bag OR I plant in a terra cotta tied with a burlap ribbon.
When planting, be certain to cover all roots. Water daily to prevent roots from drying until plants are established.
Then, sit back and enjoy your efforts and frugality.