How to Divide a Plant

Question:  I have a plant that needs dividing, but seems so overgrown that I don’t know where to begin.

Answer:  This was from a member at a local club meeting who had a “supermarket” violet that was so overgrown and crowded with crowns that dividing it by simply pulling crowns apart would have been impossible.  Normally, if there appear to be just two or three large, easily identified crowns, you can massage them apart with your fingers, then pot each crown into its own pot.  That wasn’t possible in this case.

The individual crowns still need to be identified and removed, but doing so here means cutting them out with a sharp knife or razor (we like Exacto modeling knives).  Be careful to remove whole crowns, with at least two leaves and a growing center.  Fill a small (2″ or 2 1/2″ pot) with moist (wet, not soggy) soil and make a small “divot” in the center of the soil surface.  Place the crown in the divot and gently, but firmly, press the moist soil around its base.  Be sure the crown is “snug” and doesn’t wobble around in the pot–it will root better if this is so.  Place the potted drown in a clear, plastic bag or container, and seal it.  You shouldn’t have to water until it’s removed from the bag.  Place it in a bright, but not sunny, location.  In about four weeks, the crown should have rooted and can be removed from the bag–you now have a plant.  What’s important now is that you don’t allow this to happen again!  Regularly remove any “suckers” (small pairs of leaves seen growing in the leaf axils) as they appear.  If you don’t those little suckers will soon become large crowns of their own and you’ll have to divide it again.  Besides, your violet will look more attractive and bloom better if suckers are regularly removed.

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