14 May 2014

How to Divide Your Houseplant (+ Expand Your Flower Beds)

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?)

Begonia plant

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.

overgrown houseplant

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.

houseplant in need of repotting

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.

how to repot a houseplant

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.

how to divide a houseplant

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.

dividing a plant

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.

repotting a plant

Your new plant will immediately begin to put on new growth and will fill out in a matter of weeks.

How to divide your houseplants

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!



  1. This is super-useful! I knew you could do this with things like hostas and day lilies much didn't know it worked for houseplants. And I certainly have some that need attention!

  2. Awesome tips Sarah! I am guilty of just giving up and throwing the plants away. I will be references back to your instructions and getting "new" free plants!

  3. Glued To My CraftsMay 14, 2014 at 9:51 AM

    Great tips! Maybe I can use them to keep my plants alive. I'm not much of a gardner/houseplant owner. They usually die on my watch!

  4. Great tips! I have never split them, just keep moving them to bigger pots. I am going to give this a shot! :)

  5. I'm not much of a gardener... but this make it look easy! Thanks so much :) Sharing!

  6. I'm terrible with plants, houseplants included. I thought I might be able to do plants in pots (because I killed my supposed-to-be garden one year), but no. Didn't work. I need some kind of Plants-for-Dummies book or something.

  7. I admire people that have indoor garden abilities.

  8. cariwritesforyouMay 14, 2014 at 11:30 AM

    This is awesome I pinned it so I can reference it when I need it

  9. Sarah, I am always looking for great tips to help me get free plants - thank you for sharing...will be using this as a reference....

  10. It's great, especially if you have a particular pot that you want to keep in a particular spot!

  11. Thanks, Sherrijo. It really is a very easy process.

  12. Don't give up on the first try! Potted plants do take a bit more maintenance due to their constrained living envrionments.

  13. Thank you! I hope you find it very useful!

  14. Thanks, Cathy. I'm working on transplanting some of my favorite plants. Have you seen the price of annuals this year? It is crazy. Who pays $4 for one little annual?

  15. When it comes to plants I'm terrible at taking care of them because I forget to water and they end up dying. :-( I'll try again soon.

  16. Sarah, I love this post! I've never know I could trim off those alien pieces that truly do take over the land... in my case, it's the window sill! Thanks for sharing!

  17. Steph @ Crafting in the RainMay 15, 2014 at 12:39 AM

    I really haven't done much with plants--didn't even know this cool trick!

  18. I am lucky enough to have a husband that knows what to do with both indoor and outdoor plants as if I divide them myself I usually kill them. Thanks for sharing. pinning this.


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