General Question

andrew's avatar

What's the best way to split a plant into two smaller pots?

Asked by andrew (16380points) July 31st, 2008

I figure there must be a technique to it. I’m a rank amateur when it comes to gardening. Any trusted online newbie guides for this type of stuff (meaning not the top results of a google search)?

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21 Answers

cage's avatar

do you mean a singular plant?
if so, you break off a new shoot that’s forming directly from the stalk, pop that into some lovely fertile soil and it’ll grow (with love and care). ahhh, the wonders of nature.
If you’re talking about two plants in one pot, then you need to simply get your hands dirty and split them up.

tinyfaery's avatar

You cannot really rip apart the root structure on one plant to make it two (if that’s what your referencing). Follow the directions cage gave; this will clone your plant. If the plant is just too big for the one pot, its time for a bigger pot.

marinelife's avatar

This very much depends on what type of plant it is. Some plants (bulb types, aloes eith babies, etc.), you jest turn out of the pot and split the baby off (be careful to preserve its roots) and pot. Some you can break a branch off and stick in water until roots form (begonias, philodendron, for example).

Others you may have to carefully split the plant or the rootball with a knife. If it is a cactus, be very careful not to get spines.

It is best to determine the technique from the type of plant. Care to share?

andrew's avatar

Hrm…. here is the plant.

It’s too big. I need to reduce it. And split it into two pots. I can’t do that?

head in hands

tinyfaery's avatar

Technically, you can split the root ball. With that plant, it doesn’t seem like it will be too difficult; it gets trickier when you are dealing with stalks. Turn the plant over, expose the root ball, take shears (serrated works well) and cut. Once you see the root structure it will be much easier to determine what you can do.

cage's avatar

looks like that bush needs a trim… awww yeah!

seriously though, maybe you should just prune it, that way it’ll be kept a smaller size and the roots won’t grow because they don’t need to feed more leaves :)

andrew's avatar

@cage: I actually need it in two pots, since I’m draping them from here

Do I use new potting soil? Why serrated? Do I water right away? Do I prune the flowers to help it grow right after it’s split?

tinyfaery's avatar

New pot; new soil; serrated because it takes a sawing motion to cut the root ball; yes, water, but not too much, you want the roots to grow and reattach, so they need to “reach” for the water; the plant looks like it can use a trim.

Scrumpulator's avatar

Dig the whole thing out
Find the middle
Cut it from the top down to the root ends
Try not to cut big roots that cross over from side to the other (might kill)
New soil

andrew's avatar

Is there a way to prune that would encourage more drapiness?

Scrumpulator's avatar

hmm… I looked that the photo that you posted… And it seems like there are two main parts that hang down, When you cut the plant in two, I would half it in between those two hangers That way you get half in one pot and half in the other. I would not prune it until it takes and you know that they are healthy. But after this time period (give it a couple weeks) you can prune the leafs that come up from the middle, thus allowing the sides to grow further, the pruning of the tops should put more energy into growing out the sides.

Scrumpulator's avatar

Have you ever pruned it before? If so explain what happens to the ends when you do this, I have never seen this plant and have no experience with it.

andrew's avatar

@scrumpulator: No, I just bought the plant two days ago.

tinyfaery's avatar

Maybe you should call the place you bought it from. They can either help you do it, or maybe give you two smaller plants.

marinelife's avatar

I have seen those here in Florida, but not knowing the name I could not look it up. By looking at it, it looks like you could just hack it into parts.

It will not hang down as far the the philodendrons you showed, because it is a trailing plant, but not really a vine.

Water right away (because it helps combat shock). Do not take off the flowers. If they fall off on their own fine, but dividing and transplanting is enough insult for one go for the plant.

Plenty of fresh potting soil all around.

Good luck. I think it will be fine.

susanc's avatar

Andrew, I don’t think you can use shears on a plant this big – maybe a serrated bread knife
to really saw it apart.

If it was sold by a responsible nursery, it shouldn’t be too rootbound;
that is, more roots in the pot than earth, very stressful and dangerous. If not rootbound,
roots will fall and dangle nicely when you knock the plant out of the pot, and you can cut it easily in 2 (or 3!!! It’s amazingly bushy) and replant it with impunity.

I really like it. If you find out what it’s called, will you let us know?

Knotmyday's avatar

I’d also suggest mixing a small amount of Miracle-gro All-purpose in with the initial watering. As Marina says, watering helps combat the re-pot/root damage shock, and the small amount of fertilizer promotes healthy regrowth.
Too much is bad, though. The water should have the slightest tinge of blue.

gooch's avatar

You can take your firecracker plant and cut in two with a sharp knife. Replant in two pots and water heavily for a few weeks and it should do fine.

marinelife's avatar

Gooch, Lurve to you for coming up with the name!

andrew's avatar

Well, it repotted succesfully. It turns out the rootbal wasn’t very tight at all, the plant felt more akin to grass. I could just separate the clumps with my hands.

I watered with some plant food to start it off.

How often should I water as it’s adjusting?

marinelife's avatar

@andrew having watered upon repotting, just go back to its usual schedule.

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