Dividing a Chrysanthemum x superbum 'Becky'

Lititz, PA(Zone 6b)

My Becky is raging out of control. Three years ago I planted her out of a 2c pot and now she is about 3' in diameter and taking over. In late fall I plan to divide and conquer, literally! Anyway, I've never done this before and wanted to see if any of you had any tips on splitting up a perennial. I assume you just take a shovel and dig out what you don't want but maybe there's a better option. I would like to retain the part that is dug out to give to friends of mine so I don't want to destroy it. Please let me know what you would suggest, thanks!

Prairieville, LA(Zone 9a)

You stand a better chance of a healthy divide if you dig up the entire plant rather than whack through it with a shovel. It is recommended that they be divided every 3 to 5 years in the spring. Here is some info from Cornell Univ,


Contra Costa County, CA(Zone 9b)

I find a spading fork works better than a shovel.

Lititz, PA(Zone 6b)

Yeah I was looking at it again tonight and it's probably 3'x4'. Diana...do you just shove the spading fork in and split it up? It's too big and I would much rather just cut out what I don't want and leave in what I want to stay.

Ayrshire Scotland, United Kingdom

All Perennial Plants /bulbs / tubers require splitting up after 4/5 years IF you want to keep them in great condition and flowering, things like Lupins, Delphiniums, Even Tuberous Iris / Dahlia's end up with the better growth on the outside of the clumps but woody and dead looking in the center so split up to rejuvenate them again or weak and poor flowers can be the result.

I would take Diane's advice and lift the whole plant out and prepare a new planting area even IF it's the same hole, add some good compost and manure to help feed, air and help with moisture retaining in the soil that the old clump has depleted.

Once you have dug the clump out from the soil (dig a good bit wider than you think needed) lift out the clump, Take 2 garden forks and stick them into the clump Back to back, then holding the fork firm into the bottom of the clump, try pull them apart, what you are doing is leavering 1 fork against the other to help separate the clump, it might be a tough job but it will be far better than just cutting away bits here and there, you wont be removing any roots, loosening the tangles mass under the soil and the centre of the clump will still be weak and dying because it is too old to regrow.
The wasted stuff left after cutting it up into re-plantable sizes you want, can be replants, re-potted for give-a-ways, or dumped but make sure you replant healthy bits and believe me in about 4 years time you will be doing the same again. They never tell us about having to split up huge clumps when we buy the plant eh Ha, ha, ha.
Good luck and Best Regards. WeeNel.

Lititz, PA(Zone 6b)

Sounds like this is going to be a whole day project. This garden is jam packed with plants and I'm going to have to remove some peripheral plants so they don't get destroyed as well. Maybe a good project for early November.

Ayrshire Scotland, United Kingdom

The time to do any lifting / division of plants be it tree's, shrubs, or perennial flowering types, should be done either early spring as the soil warms up and before you remove a tree /shrub, have the new whole ready with added compost, leaf mould, or manure / humus to give the plant a good start and it will settle new roots into the new environment.
Perennial plants should be lifted when you see new very tiny shoots appear, very carefully cut with a spade a wide circle around the root area making sure your dont dig too close to the roots or stems or you will separated and the plant will die when removed from it's growing hole /soil. same humus needs added to the new planting hole.
The other time to carry out the same tasks is at summer seasons ending where the plants are dying down, the soil is warm but cooling down and you can still see empty spaces where you may want to replant into.
In between these times the Plants are still putting on new growth or going into winter resting period and moving them outwith the hot weather gives them a better chance of recovery.
Lastly, always remember to keep watering till you see the plants are able to support themselves as normal.
Hope this helps you out a bit and you can get the garden under control again rather than feel the garden is controlling you, and remember sometimes plants just outgrow there environment and there's no shame in getting rid of some or offering them for free to friends, church fairs or even old folks homes ect.
Best Regards. WeeNel.

Lititz, PA(Zone 6b)

I wonder if, when I replant what I'm keeping if I install that black plastic garden edging just under the soil if that will keep this Becky from spreading like she has. Any thoughts?

Ayrshire Scotland, United Kingdom

I would suggest that these type of strong roots will eventually grow through, over or under this fabric, IF you really want to restrict the roots spread, then best to use a large pot sunk into the soil, or dig a deep,wide hole, build sides with bricks, paving slabs or similar type of strong framework to keep the roots from spreading too wide BUT, in about 5-6 years time there is the possibility you will have to split up the plant again as the new framed system you have created will be choked out with roots and poor flowering again. Some plants are grown at our peril as they are never going to be our normal garden size plants as by nature, they are natural spreaders and can tracel wide and deep for survival. we just have to make accommodation for them or decode to give them a wide berth.
Best of luck. WeeNel.

Lititz, PA(Zone 6b)

Hmm...thanks for the suggestion, that sounds like it is a better solution.

I will note however that this girl is flowering beautifully and only needs divided because she's fat and a garden bully...LOL

Ayrshire Scotland, United Kingdom

Yip !!!! you got it in one, she is a fatty and will be able to take on and take over the whole garden if your not keeping an eye on this flowery beauty that has a sting in the tail ha, ha, ha.
Have a great gardening year and just enjoy, carry out the harder chores in autumn / early spring before the hot days arrive, and that way you can just enjoy the garden for the whole summer knowing the worse jobs are done.
Best Regards. WeeNel.

Kiowa, CO(Zone 5b)

Also, just another tid bit...if you don't dig and divide you stand the chance of loosing the whole plant... Many perenns such as the Daisy will have die out in the center.... This is an obvious tale tell sign of needing division..if you don't it may end up dying over the winter...lol, I know from personal experience... Dug up some Becky this spring myself... Divided and spread her around a bit, also shared via mail to D.G. ers. Don't put tooooo big of a clump back in, you want to make sure it has good soil contact all the way around, sides and bottom. Love my Becky, here it gets to 48" and just now has come into bloom, also remember to deadhead or take flowers for the vase if you wish to keep her in full bloom til frost!!!!! Nothing more satifying than being able to cut yourself a big bouquet of flowers from your own garden... Kathy

Virginia Beach, VA

I would love to see a picture of your plant.


Lititz, PA(Zone 6b)


Here is the pic of my Becky. We've had some windy storms lately and torrential rain so she needed propped up so the other plants could breathe..lol

Thumbnail by Sequoiadendron4
Kiowa, CO(Zone 5b)

Here's a few pix, (not this year as they are just opening),
pix 2) From top to the right: wild Sunflowers (5-6'), Daisy Becky (48"), Penstemon Rocky Mountain Blue (30-36"), unopened Catanche carulea, Lavendula angustifolia Munstead (18"), Veronica spicata Sight Seeing Blue (28"), center is Malva Party Girl (30").

This message was edited Jul 10, 2013 1:30 PM

Thumbnail by warriorswisdomkathy Thumbnail by warriorswisdomkathy
Lititz, PA(Zone 6b)

Very nice! I like the 2nd pic.

Kiowa, CO(Zone 5b)

Thankyou...I meant to ask what is the golden/yellow behind the daisy?

Lititz, PA(Zone 6b)

Its a Heliopsis helianthoides 'Venus'

I highly recommend it. We got 3 as a bare root from a catalog company last year. Two of them grew and bloomed last year. This year both are doing really well and they bloom all summer.

Kiowa, CO(Zone 5b)

Thanks, they are lovely...

Lititz, PA(Zone 6b)


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