Are you new to dividing and re-potting indoor houseplants? Wondering where to start?
Sometimes plants get overgrown and bushy and just don’t fit in their pot anymore. You can keep re-potting them into bigger and bigger pots, but depending on the type of plant, they might need to be divided to really thrive.
How to divide a plant can depend on the plant species, but this guide should cover the basic information to get you started with dividing plants.
For more specific instructions on how to divide specific types of plants, you will want to look into the types of roots that your plant has and if your plant species is prone to transplant shock or distress.
What are we dividing?
In this case, I am dividing a spider plant. Spider plants (Chlorophytum comosum) are native to tropical and Southern Africa, but have made their way around the world and are often found as house plants. They can survive down to 35 degrees Fahrenheit, but thrive best between 65 and 90 degrees.
Spider plants are also known as airplane plant, hen and chickens, St. Bernard’s lily, spider ivy, and ribbon plant. They have long green or variegated leaves.
If you read through our other articles, you will find that spider plants are great house plants that purify the air in your home and they are also easy plants to grow and keep alive. Spider plants are even great plants for pet owners, as they are not toxic for dogs or cats.
However, I can speak from experience that your cat might destroy your spider plant if he or she can reach it. I have found baby spider plants pulled up by the roots and tossed on the floor several times, as well as half eaten leaves left on my larger plants.
Needless to say, I will be hanging my newly divided spider plants out of my cat’s reach.
1 – Look at your plant and its roots
Let’s begin dividing and thinning our plant. The first thing you want to do is take a good look at your plant and its roots. I can see from looking at the base of the plant that there are two main clumps, so I will be separating these into two pots.
2 – Create a workspace
Before you start, you’ll need to decide where you will do your dividing. Outdoors would be a good place to work with your plants to avoid making a mess, but indoors is perfectly fine too if you don’t mind doing a little clean up when you are done.
I decided to do my dividing indoors, so I cut open a paper bag and laid it on my counter to catch the dirt.
3 – Un-pot your plant
To remove your plant from the pot, there are a few things you can do.
- If the pot is not too stiff, you can start with gently squeezing the container to loosen the dirt and roots from the inside walls of the pot.
- You can place your hand over the surface of the dirt and turn the pot upside down to let gravity help you remove the plant from the pot.
- You can hold the base of the plant and gently rock back and forth to loosen it from the pot.
- You can use a butter knife to separate the dirt and roots from the inside wall, much like scoring around a cake before removing it from a cake pan.
4 – Divide the plant by the roots
Now that your plant is out of the pot, take a look at the roots. Gently break away the soil from the roots with your fingers if you need to get a better look.
Spider plants have these pouches that hold water called tuberous roots or tubers, which makes them kind of easy to see from the surface.
I was able to simply pull the two sides apart from each other, pulling slowly to let the roots untangle themselves. The network of roots will stay with the tubers they are attached to.
If you are not able to pull the roots apart by hand, you can use a clean knife to cut through the roots. The roots will grow back quickly, so you do not need to worry too much about harming them.
5 – Add soil to your new planters
Line the bottom of your pot with at least 3 inches of soil before repotting your spider plant. You want to have enough soil at the bottom to support the root ball so that the base of the plant reaches the correct surface level in your pot.
Your plant’s roots will also need room to grow into this soil at the bottom of the pot. Spider plants roots grow quickly, so be sure to choose a pot or planter that has room for this growth. If you don’t, you will need to re-pot again soon.
If you’re wondering how fast spider plants grow, I have that covered here.
6 – Re-pot your divided plants
Fill soil or potting mix around the roots to fill the pot or planter up to the base of the plant. Gently pack the soil around your roots, making sure that your plant is fully supported.
7 – Decide where to put your plants
The first thing to ask yourself when deciding where to put your new plants is what does your plant need to thrive? Does it need to be in full sun, indirect sunlight, or shade?
Spider plants do not need direct sunlight, in fact, the leaves can get scorched from direct light. Because of this, I don’t want to put them near a south-facing window with most of my other house plants. Finding a good spot with indirect light is ideal.
I bought these pretty macrame plant hangers from Amazon to hang my pots from the ceiling. These are a great option because you can use any pots you want in them and you can easily swap out pots if you want to change things up.
Spider plants are perfect for hanging, especially when the leaves are long and flow like these ones do. Hanging plants can really liven up a room and add color too. Plus, the cat can’t reach them.
8 – Water your plants
Give your freshly potted plants a good soaking of water and continue to keep the soil moist while the roots take to the new soil. Spider plants take well to dividing and re-potting and will not usually show any signs of distress.
Take care of them and they will thrive in their new homes.
Dividing plants is as easy as that! Now you don’t need to be afraid to try it on your own plants.
Bonus tip: Spider plants grow baby plants from the tips of the leaves. These can be removed from the mother plant and transplanted into their own planters to grow into new plants.
Check out the video below to see how easy it is:
Growing up with a mom who filled her home (inside and out) with all sorts of plants, Lisa got her start in gardening at a young age. Living now on her own with a home and yard full of plants (including an indoor greenhouse), she shares all the gardening tips she’s gained over the years.