Expanding your assortment of houseplants doesn’t have to cost you a cent. An easy way to expand your collection is by dividing them. Whether you want to keep them for yourself or share them with others you’ll want to perform this task at the right time and in the correct way. There are different ways to accomplish this task and every one of us probably has their own special technique but if you follow my suggestions you’ll have more houseplants in no time.
Separating your plants at the right time ensures the best chance of successfully multiplying them. It is best to divide a plant either before or after its primary growing season. Doing so during the growing season interrupts its normal life cycle and while it is not impossible to divide the plant at this time it may do more harm than good. I typically divide my houseplants in early spring to allow the new plant a full growing season to get established as well as providing the divided plant ample time to recover from the process.
First I cut back on watering a few days before performing the division. This allows the plant to be removed from its pot a little easier as well as permitting the plant to be separated into smaller pieces. I get the new pots and potting soil ready by ensuring that the containers have proper drainage holes and that the soil is appropriate for the plant that I am propagating. It is also possible to recycle the current pot by removing all traces of the soil and then cleaning the pot with a mixture of one part bleach to 9 parts water. I also rinse the recycled pot in insecticidal soap just to make sure any new occupant will not be bothered by any “unwanted guests”. If you choose to use a clay pot it is a good idea to soak the pot in the water a few hours prior to adding soil to it so that when you water the newly divided plant the water that is intended for the plant doesn’t get soaked up by the pot.
I usually lay down some newspaper to keep the area clean and then remove the plant gently from its pot. A plant that is heavily rooted may require that you slide a knife into the soil around the rim of the pot. You can either gently pry the plant into sections or you may have to use a sharp knife to cut it into pieces. You should try to keep as much of the root system intact when doing this, but it is likely that you will have pieces that you will need to discard. Prior to planting the newly divided plants you should line the bottom of the new container with some pebbles for drainage purposes and to prevent soil from eroding out of the bottom of the pot.
Finally, you should fill the new pot about halfway with soil and then put the divided plant into the pot. Gently pack the soil around the plant until the soil is just below the rim. Water the plant to settle the soil and eliminate air pockets than add a little more soil to the container. I usually keep the newly potted plants out of direct light and watch them for 7 to 10 days until they get established, at which time you can move them to their permanent location. Now that you know all about dividing houseplants, go forth and multiply!