For gardeners who want more perennials for the garden, peonies and daylilies provide an economical solution. Both are prolific and long-lived. Each propagates easily by means of vegetative division. Hobbyists and breeders may grow plants from seed but for the average gardener, propagation by division provides the best result. Peony seeds require a period of chilling after germination; both peony and daylily seedlings take three to five years to produce flowering plants but substantial crown sections produce flowers the year after division.
Dig peonies in the fall when crowns become crowded. A season of sparse blooms provides evidence of overcrowding. Dig the entire root ball up with a garden fork or spade.
Knock as much dirt as possible off the crown using a hand trowel or cultivator and then gently hose off the crown with water to see how many new tubers you can make. Discard any soft tissue or mushy tubers; these will not grow and may contain mold or root rot. Set the crown on newspaper out of the sun, cover it with paper or a sheet and let it rest for an hour or two while you prepare the new planting holes.
Dig holes for the new plants about 8 inches deep and 8 inches wide. Choose new planting sites that have good drainage and six or more hours of sun. Mix the soil that you dug out with an equal measure of well-rotted compost in a garden cart or bushel basket.
Cut crowns with at least three eyes where new stalks will grow out of the old crown. Make clean cuts and brush a root fungicide on raw edges with a clean artist's brush or new small paint detailing brush. Tidy up roots by trimming to minimize damage as the crown is handled and to encourage new growth.
Make a little hill in the bottom of each planting hole and set the crown on top so that the buds sit about a half-inch beneath the surface. Spread the roots out around the hill and, holding the crown with one hand, fill the hole with the amended soil. Check the crown to make sure that it is not set too deeply and then scoop out a slight depression around the crown. Water well.
Dig the daylily clump out with a garden fork or spade anytime except the hottest part of summer. Knock dirt off the clump into a garden cart or basket until you can see the crowns or groups of green fans that grow together. Keep the clump in the shade.
Pull the clump apart into new crowns with three to five fans each. Trim each fan to 4 to 6 inches tall. Trim leggy roots back on each crown.
Dig planting holes about a foot deep and twice as wide as the new clumps. Toss a handful of well-rotted compost or peat moss in the bottom of each hole and add enough garden soil to make a mound.
Set the new crown on the mound and back fill the hole with garden soil. Set the place where the fan meets the crown (the green fades to white) about an inch below the surface. Water each new crown well.
Add an inch of well-rotted compost mulch to daylilies in spring and replace it in the winter to keep shallow roots insulated.