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Increase your herb garden size and harvest by learning how to divide herbs for replanting. 

Chives dug from the earth and sitting on soil with text overlay.

This simple process is a great and frugal way to get more herbs either from your own existing plot or from friends and neighbors without having to start seeds or purchase plants.

The Best Herbs to Divide

Stick with perennial herbs when thinking about division. Herbs like chives, mint, lemon balm, etc. These are hardy herbs that tend to do well even if disturbed. This applies to culinary and medicinal herbs.

Pick herbs that are well established and overgrowing their current space. Usually this would mean plants that are at least two years old. 

When to Divide Herbs

Divide herbs in the early spring or late fall for best results. This gives the roots plenty of time to reestablish in cooler weather.

Chives dug from the earth and sitting on soil with text overlay.

Try to do the actual digging and transplanting on cooler, overcast days just to keep everything from scorching or drying out too quickly. 

How to Divide Herbs

To get started you simply need a shovel and a good, sharp knife or gardening shears. A garden fork is helpful but not necessary. 

Find some herbs in your garden or a friends that are crowding the space in which they grow.  Stick your shovel into the dirt around the portion of herbs you want to remove. Essentially, cutting a hole around the plant.

Using the shovel or your garden fork, get up underneath as much of the roots as possible and lift from the earth.

Separate the roots from the removed plant from the plant that is remaining in the garden by cutting through with the knife. Alternatively, you can cut through the roots with gardening shears.  

Thyme roots being cut with garden shears.

Be sure to fill in the hole where the roots were removed and cover any remaining roots left in the garden.

How to Plant Divided Herbs

Planting the herbs you’ve dug up is as simple as planting any purchased plant or seedling. 

Dig a hole deep and wide enough to bury the roots. Add a healthy scoop or two of compost, add your plant, cover the roots with soil, and water well. 

A row of potted herbs on a windowsill

You can also put your divided herbs into pots for indoor or container gardens.

Where to Find Herbs to Divide

Obviously look to your own current garden first. This is a great way to expand your lavender or chives patches for example. Dig some up, replant somewhere else and have larger harvests.

However, this is also a great way to get plants from other local gardeners suitable for your particular climate.

A honeybee on oregano flowers in the herb garden

Ask friends and family if they have herbs to share. Volunteer to do the actual thinning and digging yourself. This helps them prevent overcrowding while providing frugal garden expansion for yourself.

Advertise for herb divisions in local social media groups, etc. Again, volunteer to do the actual digging to increase response rate. If you advertise, be specific in what you’re seeking to avoid wasting anyone’s time. 

Spread the Plant Abundance

If you need to divide overgrown herbs, remember to dig them up and share them with other local gardeners. Offer them to friends and family, advertise that you have available plants on social media and see who turns up.

If you have a local seed / plant swap, this is a great place to share your extras.

Chive roots sitting on garden soil with text overlay.

Saving Herb Seeds

While most perennial herbs are best propagated by dividing, annual herbs such as basil and cilantro, do best when they’re started from seed. Successfully saving seeds is really easy to do when you know these five simple things.

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Kathie is a writer, gardener, and teacher living with her soulmate, Jeff, in northwestern Montana. As a fiercely D.I.Y. individual, she is dedicated to living a life made of her own hands as much as possible.

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