CO-Horts Blog

Thursday, April 18, 2019

When a Houseplant Outgrows its Home...

By: Sherie Caffey, Horticulture Agent, CSU Extension-Pueblo County

    It’s spring time and everything outside is starting to green up and get growing! The outdoor plants aren’t the only ones gearing up for a growth spurt, your houseplants are waking up from their winter snooze and starting to grow more as well.

    Give your houseplants a little spring cleaning, as dust tends to settle on the leaves. With more active growth, also comes a greater need for water and fertilizer. Your plants will also benefit from a breath of fresh air on warm days, but don’t forget to bring them in during our still chilly nights.

Some supplies you will need
    One spring time houseplant chore I needed to get done was dividing my peace lily (Spathiphyllum sp.). This is one of my favorite houseplants, because it’s very resilient and can handle the extreme neglect it receives from me. Dividing is done when the plant has become too overgrown for its container. One sign that a plant has outgrown its home is that it is difficult to keep it watered, and the plant wilts often between waterings. When you pull the plant out of its pot, you will likely see many crowded roots. Dividing is best done in spring, since the plant is actively growing.

The split plant with cleaned and teased roots
    To divide a houseplant, first, place your hand over the top of the pot and invert it. Give the pot some gentle squeezes or taps to dislodge the plant. Gently lay the plant down on its side on your work surface. Tease and loosen the roots, removing the soil from them. If the roots are very thick and overgrown, you may have to use scissors or a knife (sterilized) to help you separate the plant, otherwise just gently pull it apart, and split it into two or three smaller plants. Cut out any roots that have died. Each new plant should have a good amount of roots and at least a few leaves.

Two plants!
Crown placement

    Fill your new pots up about a third of the way with soil. You want the new plant to be positioned so that the crown is a couple inches from the top of the pot. Spread the roots out and set the plant in place. Fill soil in around the plant. The crown should be at or just above soil level. Water the plant until water runs out of the bottom of the pot. Now you have two plants that will be much happier in their new digs!


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