Deconstructing Your Containers

Now that October is here there is still so much to do in the garden. Today I was deconstructing my containers. I start with the smallest containers first as they could potentially freeze solid and that would be certain death to the plants in them. I often leave the larger containers alone as long as they contain hardy plants. There is something exciting about taking apart the containers. I may be able to get some extra plants and that’s a good thing.
Deconstructing Your Containers

By deconstructing my herb container I was able to divide enough plants to fill a whole flat plus two one-gallon pots. Every year I give a herb class or two and end up buying new plants. Next year I have three herb classes so these new plants will come in handy. So how did I do this?

Deconstructing Your Containers

The container I emptied was narrow and not very deep. Once emptied it was rinsed out and stored away for next year.

Deconstructing Your Containers

I wasn’t able to dig each plant out separately so I slid the whole root mass on to a table. After being together all season the roots are quite entwined.

Deconstructing Your Containers

Starting on one corner I was able to pull away one of the english thyme plants. I potted up this small plant into a 4″ container. It’s best to remove some of the original soil from the roots so it fits easily into its new pot. I always add new soil when replanting.

Deconstructing Your Containers

Next I removed a larger chunk of thyme. This one would be easy to divide. I don’t need tons of plants but hoped to get at least three plants out of this one.

Deconstructing Your Containers

The hand trowel I use has a serrated edge on it that’s perfect for making divisions. Normally I would use an old kitchen knife or pruning saw but this was handy.
Deconstructing Your Containers

With a bit of sawing motion I was able to divide the thyme plant into three plants. They¬†were potted up into 4″ pots as well.

Deconstructing Your Containers

Propagating new plants is so easy. Above is lemon thyme with most of the soil shaken off. As you can see it grows new shoots along a creeping stem. I cut between each plant along the creeping stem and potted up each plant separately. Lemon thyme has such a lovely fragrance when you rub its leaves.

Deconstructing Your Containers

The next plant to work on was oregano which had such a large root mass that I knew I would be dividing it. Oregano is a thug in the garden as it can grow aggressively so I like it to remain in a container. I divided the oregano into two large chunks. I can divide it in the spring into more plants but feel it will winter better in one gallon pots.

Deconstructing Your Containers

The oregano will be able to survive outside with no protection. It’s that tough. Our winter can go down to about -6C but its rare.

Deconstructing Your Containers

I potted up the tri-colour sage but since its such a woody plant, it doesn’t divide well. Its best done from cuttings. The photo above is a cutting I took about four weeks ago. Tarragon plants were also in the original container and are not hardy here. They were potted into fresh soil and brought into the greenhouse. This year I have decided to drop my 4″ herb pots in the soil of a raised bed for the winter. If I am lucky they will grow some more before frost and I will be able to harvest herbs over the next few weeks.

Deconstructing Your Containers

If you are removing annuals from containers, be sure to compost them. Many perennial plants are fine left in large containers and should be used to add some winter colour at this time of year.

Want to learn more about dividing plants? Check out my post from Mayne island Seedy Saturday where I talked about How to Divide Perennials.

2 thoughts on “Deconstructing Your Containers

  1. “Deconstructing” I like that. We did a lot of un-gardening this past weekend, cutting perennials and pulling veggies and annuals. My husband pointed to my big combination planters with the huge spikes and vincas and asked me if I was going to “dump those pots”. No we’re not dumping them. We’re Un-Planting them!

  2. Great info. I really need to get out and take care of business. Mostly I’ve done a little pruning here and moving one thing there but now that the weather is beautiful I hope to get out and deconstruct more!

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