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How to lift and divide hemerocallis


Dividing summer-flowering perennials helps reinvigorate them and encourage stronger growth. If left to their own devices, herbaceous plants can form congested clumps after three to four years, resulting in weaker growth and fewer flowers of a poorer quality.

Hemerocallis (daylilies) produce a mass of fibrous roots that can be difficult to separate if the clump is old and your soil is heavy. You may have to slice through the clump with a spade. This might seem drastic but as long as each new section has a few healthy shoots and as much length of root as top growth, it will be ready to grow well.

How to do it


Push a spade deeply into the ground a few inches from a large, congested clump to loosen the soil.


Rock the spade gently to loosen the clump and break deep roots, then lift the clump out of the ground with your hands.


Select young growth from around the edges of the clump. Try to break off individual crowns by hand, each with roots and shoots.


Fork through the soil and add garden compost or well-rotted manure. Replant divisions in groups, firming round each plant.


Lightly fork through the soil surface before watering. The new divisions should produce a few blooms this summer.

Discuss this project

Talkback: How to lift and divide hemerocallis
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Ellen1963 17/04/2015 at 08:07

I have planted my hemerocallis about a foot apart. That doesn't seem to have been done in the photographs.
Does that not cause another digging session too soon?

Judith 5 17/04/2015 at 08:42

I find these have very deep roots, so quite difficult to move as some roots get left behind and start growing again.

Verdun 17/04/2015 at 08:55

On the contrary, I find hemerocallis easy to move, divide and establish.  They make sizeable clumps in 3 years or so.  never had roots left behind Judith....I,suspect you didnt dig a deep enough football. 

Ellen, if your plants are small a foot apart may seem a lot but they quickly fill in and establish.  How many have you planted?  


Judith 5 17/04/2015 at 09:45

OK Verdun. It might be the clump I was trying to split was very old, over 10 years, and a very large, vigorous plant. I don't know the variety, v tall with orange flowers. Fleshy tap roots went down at least a foot!

Verdun 17/04/2015 at 12:03

Ah, you're prob right then Judith.  

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