How to divide a houseplant

How to divide a house plant

Alan Titchmarsh demonstrates how to reinvigorate clump-forming house plants like peace lilies and spider plants.

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Peace lilies (Spathiphyllum) are a classic example of house plants that can be divided into several smaller plants, giving you new plants for free.

Most clump-formers, including anthuriums, spider plants (Chlorophytum) and zebra plants (Calathea), can also be divided this way. While you’re propagating your house plant, take this chance to inspect the leaves and stems for any signs of pests, such as scale insects and mealybugs.

Take a good look at the state of the foliage, too. Some dying foliage is normal, as older, typically smaller leaves are replaced by larger, healthier leaves. However, if lots of them or turning brown or yellow, then it could be a sign of a problem. Common issues are overwatering, under-watering, too much sunlight or too little sunlight.

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Follow these four easy steps to dividing your house plants.


You Will Need

  • Sharp knife
  • Multi-purpose compost

Step 1

Tap the plant out of its pot and take a close look at the point where the shoots sprout from the compost. You should see some obvious gaps where the clump can be separated into smaller sections. Insert a knife in between the gaps and chop up into smaller sections. Alternatively, tear apart the clump with your hands if it’s relatively easy to break into sections.

Using a knife to divide the houseplant
Using a knife to divide the house plant

Step 2

Pick or cut off any weak or dead sections and discard.

Discarding weak or thin sections
Discarding weak or thin sections

Step 3

Cut off any long or straggling roots, so that each new, young clump is left with a decent set of roots that are about 8-10cm long.

Cutting off long roots
Cutting off long roots

Step 4

Pot up each new clump into a pot of fresh multi-purpose compost or house plant compost, making sure it sits at the same level as it did in the previous pot. To allow for watering, leave a 2-3cm gap between the surface of the compost and the pot rim. Water the new plants in well, then continue watering regularly.

Potting up each new clump
Potting up each new clump

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