So, you caught the latest craze and purchased a houseplant. Me, too! (Actually, I've always had a houseplant or three. So what's one more, right?)
You've cared for your little one, tended to its every need, and it's happily thriving in the environment you've so lovingly provided. Pat yourself on the back for doing such an outstanding job! But have you suddenly noticed that despite doing everything right your plant's demands are becoming greater and greater? And if you fail to give in to these demands, does your green-leafed friend pout by sagging its branches, dropping leaves, and failing to bloom?
If you answered yes, then my dear friends, you're dealing with plant puberty. Those growing pains all our children go through as they outgrow their environment.
It's time to divide and conquer. Take the begonia above, for example. This image was taken last spring when I first brought it home. It's lush, full, and blooming prolifically. Below is one year later.
I liken it to an alien who's given birth to babies that will soon unattach themselves from the mother plant and take over the world.
When your plant becomes leggy and its soil has pulled from the pot, it's time to either graduate your bundle to a larger home or divide your baby and share the love.
And this is the point where many plant owners give in and simply relegate their green friend to the trash pile.
It's so easy to discard a potbound plant instead of reviving it. But dividing them is a quick and easy process that results in additional plants you can share with friends. Or, if you're like me, you'll add those extra divisions to your flower beds for a beautiful show of annual foliage + blossoms.
Houseplants make such a beautiful show for your annual flower beds. And using your divided plants is a great way to reduce your costly spring inventory expenses (i.e., flowers). Have you noticed the price of the flowering annuals this spring? I was seeing $3 and $4 for a 3" pot at Home Depot. That's beyond crazy in my gardening book.
Here's how I do it.
Start by trimming away any dead or excess foliage from your darling. Removing the excess growth reduces the stress of your newly divided plant and allows it to put energy into new growth. Trim your plant at a node or a branching stem and your plant will divide at that junction, creating lush foliage.
Once you've trimmed away the old growth and have removed the plant from its pot, peek into the interior and you will notice several stems at the crown of the plant. Between these stems is where you will make your divisions.
Sometimes you can gently tease the roots apart. But when that's not the case, I like to use a serrated-edge knife to cut through tough roots. An old bread knife has become my tool of choice.
New pots should be slightly deeper and wider than the new plant.Place the divided plant in the center of the pot and fill in with fresh soil. Be sure to leave a 1/2" space at the top to allow for watering. Then gently tamp down the soil, water with a solution of fertilizer, and place your plants in filtered sunlight for a few days to acclimate it.
Your new plant will immediately begin to put on new growth and will fill out in a matter of weeks.
Your repotted houseplant will be happy once again. And if you planted your extras in the garden, you can pride yourself in the fact that your garden looks like a million bucks while saving yourself quite a bit of money at the same time!