How to Propagate Houseplants by Division and Offsets

Propagation is the creation or growing of new plants. When houseplants get large or more plants are desired, many can be easily propagated by division or offsets.

Dividing a zz plant Photo by Adobe StockDivision is a method of propagation where the entire plant is separated into smaller, whole pieces that contain all vegetative parts (leaves, stems, roots, etc.)

Propagation by division creates genetic clones of the parent plant.  

Not all houseplants have the growth habit that allows for division to be done successfully.  (weeping fig vs. fern).  For houseplants without crowns or clustered stems at the base, a different form of propagation, like cuttings, must be used.

Plants that are very large or have several offsets/pups that are crowding the pot are good candidates for propagation by division.

When to Propagate by Division  |  How to Propagate by Division  |
Houseplant Species Propagated by Division  |  More Information

When to Propagate

Early spring is the ideal time to propagate by division, but most houseplants can be successfully divided any time of the year.  

How To Propagate by Division and Offsets

  1. Remove the plant from the container
  2. Lay the plant with the root ball on its side and use your fingers or hands to loosen the root ball and separate the plant into smaller pieces. 
    • A knife, sharp spade, saw, or reciprocating saw can be used if the root ball is too difficult to separate with hands
    • Make sure each propagule is a good size with healthy leaves, stems, and roots on each piece
    • The larger the piece, the more quickly the plant recovers
    • The smaller the piece, the more propagules you get
  3. Replant the propagule using fresh potting soil in an appropriate-sized container (which is likely smaller than the original container)
  4. Water the propagules to settle the soil
  5. Place plants in bright indirect light. 
  6. Wait a few weeks before fertilizing to allow the roots a chance to recover (plus, most potting soil already has a little fertilizer in it anyway)

Houseplants Best Propagated by Division and Offsets

  • Aloe species (Aloe)
  • Agave americana (Century Plant)
  • Asparagus densiflorus (Asparagus Fern)
  • Aspidistra elatior (Cast Iron Plant)
  • Bromeliads (Aechmea, Guzmania, Neoregelia, Vriesea)
  • Chlorophytum comosum (Spider Plant)
  • Calathea makoyana, C. ornata (Peacock Plant)
  • Dracaena trifasciata, syn. Sansevieria trifasciata (Snake Plant, Mother-in-Law's Tongue)
  • Ferns (nearly all ferns are best propagated by division)
    • Asplenium nidus (Bird's Nest Fern)
    • Cyrtomium falcatum (Holly Fern)
    • Nephrolepis species (Boston Fern)
    • Pteris species (Spider Fern)
  • Lithops species (Living Stones)
  • Orchids (nearly all orchids are best propagated by offsets)
    • Cattleya species (Corsage Orchid)
    • Phalaenopsis species (Moth Orchid)
  • Palms (nearly all palms are best propagated by division)
    • Dypsis lutescens (Areca Palm, Bamboo Palm)
    • Caryota mitis (Fishtail Palm)
    • Chamaedorea elegans (Parlor Palm)
    • Rhapis excelsa (Lady Palm)
  • Pilea peperiomoides (Chinese Money Plant)
  • Sempervivum species (Hen and Chicks)
  • Spathiphyllum species (Peace Lily)
  • Strelitzia reginae (Bird of Paradise)
  • Zamioculcas zamiifolia (Zz Plant)

A more comprehensive list of plants well-suited for propagation by division can be found in this article: Propagating Houseplants

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Last reviewed:
December 2023