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Dividing Potted Plants

When division leads to multiplication

Nearly any plant you can grow indoors can be split. If your plant is beginning to form multiple stems or offshoots from base of its stem, it's time to divide. The best candidates are amaryllis, African violets, wax begonias, haemanthus, zephyranthes, bromeliads, and clivia. If you're lucky enough to have a cactus or pregnant onion, you can break off the offshoots by hand, and plant in a new pot.

How to split your plants
Line a table with newspaper for easy cleanup, and arrange your materials so you can work quickly.

You will need:

  • Clean pots
  • A sharp knife
  • Potting soil
  • Water

Remove loose soil from the top. Turn the pot over carefully and tap it to loosen the plant. Brush away soil covering up the roots. With some houseplants, you can break away new plants from older ones with your hands. With cacti, it's best to make a handle out of a page of flattened, rolled up newspaper. Some needles can go right through gardening gloves.

If no natural division seems obvious, plan to cut newer plants away from older growth. Make sure each plant gets a bit of the main stem. Then cut quickly, without hacking or sawing at the roots.

After splitting the plants, line each new pot with potting mix. Put the newly-split plant in the pot, and fill in soil around the sides. Press the soil firmly to remove any air pockets, and then water. If you're splitting succulents or cactus, do not water them after potting.