How to Propagate Houseplants by Division

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Division is an effective propagation method for a wide range of houseplants. It isn't viable for all plants, so you first need to determine if you can do it with your plant. The great thing, though, is if you have an easily divisible houseplant, it's an extremely easy way to propagate and fill your home with tons of plant babies.

 

Plant dividing is simple as it sounds. The plant is dug up (or removed from its container) and split into separate clumps. Then, each cluster is planted in its own pot.

 

What Plants Can Be Divided?

 

The best houseplant candidates for division are ones that form root clumps. Plants with single stems cannot be divided. Here are houseplants which are great for dividing!

 

  • Spider plants

  • Sansevieria (Snake Plant)

  • Philodendron

  • Peace Lily

  • All the Ferns

  • Aloe Vera

  • Chinese Evergreen

  • Anthurium

  • Caladium

  • Jade Plant

  • Maranta

  • Nerve Plant

  • ZZ Plant

  • Pilea

 

Signs A Plant Needs Dividing

 

Your plant might be ready for division if any of the following signs are present.

  • The roots are growing out of the drainage holes.

  • The container is breaking because the structure of the roots is too large.

  • The plant cannot maintain an upright stature – it is becoming floppy or top-heavy.

  • Multiple babies are growing around the base of the plant.

  • Water is immediately draining out of the pot (though this can also be a sign of poor soil).

 

How to Divide a Houseplant

 

The best time to propagate through division is in spring, when the houseplant is coming out of its winter rest and is at its strongest. Only divide strong, healthy, and mature plants.

 

The dividing process can get quite messy so do it outside or cover an area with newspaper.

 

What You Need

 

  • 4" pots... with drainage holes!! (or another size, depending on the size of the plant and roots)

  • Potting soil

  • Sharp sterilized knife (sterilize with alcohol or heat – this is essential so plant diseases aren’t spread to the roots)

Let's Propagate!

 

  1. Prepare your pots by filling them with potting soil and pre-moistening it so the soil is damp but not soggy.
     

  2. Carefully remove the plant from its pot and examine the root ball.

    If the root ball doesn't come out easily, tap the sides to loosen it.

    You may need to cut or break the pot if it is especially stuck.
     

  3. Use your fingers to loosen the root ball gently. Knock off excess dirt as you go to get a better view of the roots.

    Be sure to cut off any brown leaves or stems.
     

  4. Examine the root ball and current plant growth to determine the best places to cut the roots.
     

  5. Use the sterilized knife to cut the roots into sections. Make sure each one has a good amount of root and plant growth.
     

  6. Plant the divisions in the prepared pots. Arrange them in the pot, so the roots are at the same level as they were previously.
     

  7. Press the soil around the roots to remove air pockets.
     

  8. Place the divisions in a warm, bright location – the same place as the parent plant or similar is ideal.
     

  9. It takes time for the new division to establish and start producing foliage. Keep it watered, warm, and in indirect light, and it will prosper.
     

  10. Some new divisions experience transplant shock. The leaves get droopy and look terrible. This is normal and they should perk up shortly with regular care.

 

Dividing vs. Repotting

 

A plant that is growing out of its container or sending roots out through the drainage holes may just want to be repotted. In these cases, it's really up to you whether you want to have the same plant grow larger or divide it into a bunch of smaller plants. Either option is fine. The parent plant can be repotted to a larger container and just grow bigger. 

 

However, if the plant is producing babies around the main stem, it's best to divide it instead of repotting. This is only because the plant is actively making babies; both the parent plant and babies will do better if they're given separate homes to spread out.