How To Propagate Plants
by Division

Table of Contents
How To Propagate Plants by Division

Plant Propagation by division and its benefits

You can grow plants from seeds or bulbs. However, that is not the only form of plant propagation. One of the many ways to do it is division – plant parts are separated from the parent plant and replanted. Division is one of the most fundamental techniques for vegetative propagation, making it a preferred method for many amateur gardeners and new plant enthusiasts.

What Types of Plants Can Be Divided? In short, most of the house plants can be propagated by this method. Later, you will read about it in more detailed.

This method has quite a few benefits.

  • As mentioned earlier, it is extremely cheap, basically free, and can be performed by everyone, even people who don’t have a natural talent for gardening.
  • On top of this, propagation by division will help add a plant to your collection that is by all means identical to the original one. This means that you can easily create one or more clones of your unique or rare plants, following this technique.
  • Many plants benefit from this treatment and especially old or overgrown ones will be more than happy to receive a friendly trim. This may even lead them to produce new growth or flowering.

Ok, this all sounds great, but from where do we start? Before getting our scissors and new pots, it’s important to understand whether your plant is suitable for a plant propagation division.

What plants can be propagated by division?

Contrary to what most people think, plenty of plants can be propagated by division. For instance, herbaceous plants often respond extremely well to this treatment. These are the ones without stems that tend to die in the winter, even though their underground parts, such as roots or bulbs, may survive.

propagation division

Some good examples are hostas and daylilies as well as ornamental grasses such as blue fescue, Mexican feather grass, and Japanese forest grass, all of which are the ideal division plant propagation type. You can also use this method to multiply your perennial flowers, such as daisies, peonies, and irises, as well as edible plants ranging from spinach to asparagus, and rhubarb to increase your harvest.

Blackberry suckers and strawberry runners are two other examples of parts that can be cut from the original plant and sown right away. As an alternative, sections that have not yet developed roots, such as tulip bulblets and hen-and-chicken offsets, may be simply separated from the parent plant. That is especially true near the end of the growing season. You could state the same for some forms of cutting – for example, cannas, rhubarb, and numerous herbaceous perennials. Sections are cut or pulled from the main clump of roots and crown and then used to give life to a new individual plant.

Shrubs and trees can also be propagated by division, but performing this technique on this type of plant may be slightly trickier, so you will need to be a bit more experienced. In this case, you will need a sharp knife, or even a saw, to cut the plant into smaller sections to then replant them in the soil.

Here are some more division propagation examples so you can get an idea of how to treat each one of your plants.

How To Propagate Plants by Division

Swiss Cheese plant

Swiss Cheese plants, whose official name is Monstera Deliciosa, are a popular indoor choice for those who want to add a little ‘jungle touch’ to their house. Even though most people tend to propagate this plant through cuttings, you can also do so by division. 

  1. To start, take your monstera and gently pull it out of its pot. Make sure to be gentle to avoid breaking any roots. You can now do your best to get rid of as much soil as possible to get a clear view of your plant’s root system.
  2. Now it’s time for the scary part. Decide where you want to divide your monstera and simply tease the roots apart. Don’t be afraid to use a clean cutting tool when needed.
  3. You can now replant each of the two, or more, sections into a pot with new fresh soil. Here you are, mission accomplished!
Lucky Bamboo propagation in soil

Lucky Bamboo

Lucky bamboo is a very popular plant used by many to add a touch of green to their room. Contrary to its name, it does not come from the bamboo family, but it’s actually a tropical water lily. 

  1. To multiply your bamboo, you will first need to locate a healthy stem with a dark green offshoot measuring roughly four to six inches.
  2. Remove all the bottom leaves on your cut but leave two leaves on the top part.
  3. You can now cut it off close to the parent stalk.
  4. Once you’re done, you can either put your cutting in water or soil, depending on your preference.
umbrella plant

Umbrella plant

Umbrella plants are huge indoor plants that can grow incredibly tall, up to nine meters in their natural habitat, making them a great choice for every plant lover. The technique used to propagate them is quite similar to the one we just discussed. 

  1. Start by identifying a healthy branch. Look for stems with some leaves carrying an even green shade.
  2. You can now search for a node on the branch you chose. Nodes are small brown bumps from where new leaves sprout. Cut your stem below the node at a 45-degree angle. Bear in mind, the branch should be roughly ten to fifteen cm long.
  3. Take off all the bottom leaves from the cuttings and put them in water.
  4. Leave it in a place with bright indirect light and once the roots have reached a length of roughly six cm plant it in soil.
ginger plant in pot

Ginger root

The last plant we want to discuss is ginger, in particular ginger roots, delicious in our tea, and curry recipes, and especially great whenever we have a cold.

  1. To propagate this useful root, all you will need to do is to cut it into sections making sure each one of these has at least two ‘eyes’, the developing ginger stems.
  2. Before planting your sections in soil, leave them for a couple of days to rest so that the cut can callus over.
  3. You can now plant your roots, making sure to leave the eye exposed. 

Division propagation steps:

As you can see, there are diverse division techniques. Rough division entails cutting across bigger clusters of plants like phlox, rhubarb, and many shrubs using a sharp spade or axe. You should plant the separated plant parts right away. Or you could dig up the clumps, separate them with your hands and use the help of a knife to cut them up – this is considered a finer technique. Thin branches, also called stolons, naturally take root after being split apart and can be used in other division methods.

Crowns or rooted buds that emerge from the soil at the end of the growing season and push forward are frequently cut off and replanted. The underground branches’ short, thicker tubers are separated from the main stems and clumps and then planted individually. And the bulblets that grow in the leaf axils of Tiger Lilies and other similar varieties, as well as the fronds of certain ferns, are even more specialized examples of division.

Thanks to division’s simple nature and many possibilities, it’s no wonder why it’s people’s go-to form of plant propagation. It is definitely a method we’d recommend for newbies.

The tools you need

How To Propagate Plants by Division

One of the biggest benefits of propagation by division is that you will only need basic tools to perform it. If you’re trying to propagate small plants such as perennial flowers or edible plants, all you will need is a sharp knife or some garden scissors

For big plants, you may need some extra tools, even though you probably already have these at home. In particular, you will need pruning shears, a spade, and a garden fork. These can be used to dig out your plant from the soil and divide it into smaller sections. 

A quick reminder,  always make sure to clean your tools with a disinfectant both before and after use to prevent parasites from spreading in your garden. 

When to Divide and Propagate Plants?

Perhaps the timing is more important than the tools, but in terms of the health of the plant, it could be crucial when we start the process. The best season for diving is certainly Fall and Spring. However, we recommend you to propagate during Fall, since there is much more work to do during Spring.

Give it a read

How To Propagate Plants by Division

Step-by-step instructions for dividing different types of plants

As we mentioned above, different plants require different division techniques. This is why we decided to include some step-by-step instructions for you to propagate any plant in your collection.

Perennials

Perennials should be propagated when they are dormant or just about to start growing. This period is often either in the spring or fall.

  1. A good tip to follow is to water them the day before propagation. In this way, you will make sure to have moist soil making it easier for you to pull your plant out the next day.
  2. You can now use a garden fork or a spade to get your plant out of the soil. Always be extra careful not to damage the roots but don’t worry too much if you end up breaking a few.
  3. You can now separate your clump into smaller sections either by using your hands or a sharp knife. Remember, each one should have a healthy root system and shoots.
  4. Plant your sections into new pots with fresh soil and here you are, you have a few extra plants!

Grasses

Grasses are probably the easiest plants to propagate.

  1. As usual, we can start by pulling out your plant from the soil using a garden fork or spade.
  2. Clean the root system so you can have a clear view and simply decide where to cut. As with perennials, make sure each cut has healthy roots and shoots.
  3. You can now replant your grasses into new pots.

Bulbs

The technique is slightly different when it comes to bulbs but still extremely easy.

  1. Take out your plant from the ground and meticulously clean your bulb from the soil. You will soon see several separate bulblets next to the mother bulb.
  2. Carefully divide them as usual, making sure each of them has a healthy root system and shoots.
  3. You can now replant them and enjoy your new plants.

Frequently Asked Questions

When is the best time to divide plants?

This largely depends on the plant you decide to propagate. However, as a rule of thumb, the ideal time is often in the early spring or late summer when most plants are not actively growing.

How do I know when a plant needs to be divided?

Sometimes plants may actually want you to divide them. This often happens when they become too large for their pot. You can figure this out by looking at your plant. Has the center of it died back? Is it no longer flowering as it used to? Then it may need to be divided into smaller sections.

Can I divide plants that have woody stems?

Of course! Just make sure you have a saw or a sharp knife to create a clean cut through the wood. Keep in mind that plants with woody stems may require extra time to recover.

What is the best way to care for newly divided plants?

After dividing your plant, water regularly and keep it in a location without direct sunlight. Once its roots have finally made the soil their own, you can move it to a sunnier location and start treating it like any other of your plants.

Is it better to divide plants into the ground or containers?

You can do both, but dividing plants into containers may be easier. This is because you won’t need big tools.

Can all plants be propagated by division?

Unfortunately not. Some of them may either be too delicate or simply too small. Your plant needs to have a strong root system for you to be able to divide it, so always make sure to double-check your plant before starting.