How to Rejuvenate your Herbaceous Perennial Borders

Delphiniums sown in Autumn may flower in their first season.
Delphiniums sown in Autumn may flower in their first season.


Herbaceous borders need more than just regular maintenance many clump forming perennials also require annual rejuvenation. Autumn into early winter is a perfect time to regenerate life into tired herbaceous perennials that combined make up your herbaceous border. 

Fast growing perennials are likely to quickly outgrow there allowed space and compete with their companion plants. Dividing and restricting the growth of these fast growing herbaceous perennials will restore balance and give slower growing plants a chance to fight of the competition.

Perennial borders

Lifting perennials in late Autumn or in early Spring depends upon the weather conditions, during a mild September to November, perennials like Monarda, Asters and Phlox can easily be lifted, split and replanted. Where as perennials that are not so hardy need to be left in the ground till the Spring, when they can be divided ready to burst into new growth.

Alliums and Iris

Heavy clay soil may already be too wet in November! So leave the dividing of perennials until the Spring or alternatively improve the soil conditions by adding humus, well rotted organic matter or farm yard manure compost to help improve the soil structure. Likewise sandy soils can be improved with a regular helping of compost either when planting or as a mulch to help retain moisture.

Iris perennial border

Consider your planting scheme throughout the season, is there enough colour in Autumn and Spring? Perhaps you should plant a wider range of perennials like these Iris to extend the flowering season and even contemplate some winter interest with spring-flowering tulips or winter Hellebores.

Spring bulbs herbaceous border

Top Tip: When dividing herbaceous perennials select a few small well rooted stems or basal crowns to grow in 1 litre pots overwinter. Place these 1 Litre perennials in a cold glasshouse or cold frame, allowing their roots to develop during the winter months and come the spring you will have some reserve plants to either fill any gaps you have in your border, replace any that have died or exchange with your friends or family.

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About Head Gardener 290 Articles
Award winning, 40 something year old professional plantsman and horticulturalist with National Trust, private parks and estate management background. My vast plant knowledge and hands on techinical experience, afforded me the opportunity to work in various horticultural landscapes, in the UK, USA & Eastern Europe. Having worked in both garden retail & the design service industry gave me the practical diversity and managerial skill set, required for running a large prestigious gardens and stately homes. I strongly believe knowledge is to be shared and have worked closely with people and staff of all ages and abilities keen to develop their passion for gardening, including groups of children, special needs and adults. I have hosted guided walks, talks and tours for those keen to learn about cultivated and wild plants, garden development, history and design. As an member of the NNCPG and National Trust, I am actively involved in the preservation of several important plant collections both in public and private gardens throughout the UK. “It’s a beautiful thing when a career and a passion grow together, in a garden it’s paradise” Follow @IGrowHort on GardenTags. Stephen is passionate about gardening as Head Gardener with a team of ten staff he manages a prestigious Cheshire country estate of 55 acres, inc wild flower meadows, woodland, organic kitchen and formal gardens. Follow Stephen today”

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