Article and photos by: Mike Stoy, SCMG
Winter may not seem like the best time to be buying plants but for some plants it is a great time to score some bargains. Most of the local nurseries have their plants on sale at large markdowns from sometime in October on. If you are a fan of native and xeric succulents this is a great time to buy plants for dividing. Native and xeric succulents such as red yucca (Hesperaloe parviflora), banana yucca (Yucca baccata) and similar plants can be easily divided. When you go to the nursery look for plants that have grown very dense in their pots with a lot of individual stems. The three gallon or larger pots are usually the ones that offer the best value since I have seen as many as a eleven individual stems in one three gallon pot. These can be separated and put into one gallon pots. If you get the original three gallon pot for half off you are getting half a dozen or more one gallon plants for the price of one.
It will be more comfortable if you wait until a warmer winter day to do the work. Begin by collecting the items you will need:
– Original overgrown plant
– Enough empty pots to plant up all the offsets
– Potting soil
– Garden Gloves
– Pruning shears
– Work place (I use a wheelbarrow)
– Hose if necessary
It is a good idea to sterilize your tools with alcohol before you begin. Some sources suggest sterilizing your pots but I have simply cleaned them out well with water and have yet to lose a plant. Tip the plant out of the original pot. Shake and work off the soil from the plant being careful not to break too many roots. For some plants, like red yucca, the roots are so heavily intertwined it is usually necessary to use a hose to remove the soil and separate the individual offsets.
Once you have all the individual stems separated you can trim off any dead branches and determine how large a pot each plant will need.
Plant the plants into potting soil and water them in. You can plant them directly into the ground if you like but I have found it easier to keep them watered every three or four weeks the first winter if they are in pots.
So, with a little bit of effort you can satisfy you gardening urge this time of year and end up with a lot of plants at a great price.
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