Pacific Northwest

February, 2012
Regional Report

Books

Growing Hardy Orchids
The Gardener's Guide to Growing Hardy Perennial Orchids (The Wild Orchid Company, 2005) will open your eyes to a new world, including how to grow wild orchids in your home. The author, Dr. William Mathus, has written an easy-to-read and interesting book, filled with color photographs and drawings. Mathis writes that "Successful growing of wild orchids isn't complicated" and he follows his statement up with easy to follow step-by-step information on the world of terrestrial orchids. This is an interesting and helpful book and may even convince you to give orchid growing a try.

Clever Gardening Technique

Divide Perennials the Easy Way
Dividing perennials doesn't have to be a laborious task. If you take just a little extra care with them, many of the tougher, fibrous-rooted plants such as daylilies, hostas, and ornamental grasses can be cut into pieces while they're still in the ground. To do this, I use a sharp, flat-bladed spade to cut or separate the crown into two pieces. I dig around one half of the crown and pull it free for relocation elsewhere, leaving the other half in place. Then I fill the hole with compost or topsoil and water it well. Depending on the size and vigor of the plant, you may be able to cut the crown into several smaller pieces the way you would a pie.

I think this method has a few advantages over digging up the entire plant. To begin with, it's easier. You have to lift only part of the plant out of the ground. If you're working on a sizable specimen, this can save your back a lot of strain. In-ground division also spares the half left in place from much of the shock of being cut in two. While the piece you carry away may wilt and require cutting back, the piece in the ground rarely shows any signs of being divided. Give this method a try; it works well all year round.

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