Snake plants, also referred to as Sansevieria or mother-in-law’s tongue, are extremely versatile houseplants that can be propagated by separating the rhizomes. As snake plants mature, they tend to grow in crowded clumps that can be divided. By separating the rhizomes and repotting the divisions, you can expand your plant collection. This guide covers the process of separate snake plants.
When is the Best Time to Divide?
Dividing a snake plant should be timed properly for success. The ideal times are:
Early spring, before the plant enters its active growing season. This gives divided sections time to root before summer heat.
Late summer/early fall, as growth is slowing down before winter dormancy. Avoid disturbing the plant during peak growth periods.
Signs your snake plant is ready for division:
- The plant has outgrown its pot and appears potbound or rootbound.
- Crowded clusters of leaves emerge from the pot.
- Leaf growth seems slowed and smaller than normal.
- Babies or pups cluster at the base around the mother plant.
- Roots are growing out of the drainage holes.
Dividing an overgrown plant revitalizes growth and prevents decline. Do not divide if plant is stressed from recent repotting, pests, or environmental factors. So you should address these issues first.
What Supplies Do You Need?
Before starting, ensure you have these propagation supplies ready:
- Clean, sharp shears or a knife to cut rhizomes. Sterilize tools in rubbing alcohol first.
- Small containers or pots with drainage holes, about 2-4 inches wide.
- Fresh, well-draining potting mix suitable for cacti and succulents.
- Rooting hormone powder (optional but promotes new root growth).
- Pebbles or rocks to place in pot bottoms for added drainage (optional).
- Plastic bags or sheeting to discard old potting mix and keep work area clean.
- Labels and pens to identify new plants.
Step-by-Step Division Process
Follow these steps to properly separate and repot your snake plant:
Water the plant 1-2 days prior to division. This loosens the root ball for easier removal.
Turn the pot upside down, supporting the plant, and slide it out carefully.
Gently loosen and tease apart the tangled root system.
Remove or shake off as much old potting mix as possible.
Prepare your sanitized workspace by laying down plastic sheeting or bags.
Divide the Plant
Examine the root system and determine where natural divisions exist in the rhizomes.
Use your sharp, sterilized shears or knife to cut the plant into divisions.
Cut closely between leaf clusters emerging from rhizomes for evenly sized divisions.
Separate baby plants or offsets from the mother plant cleanly.
Optionally dip cut ends of divisions in rooting hormone powder to boost root growth.
Allow fresh cuts to callus over for 2-3 days before potting up.
Repot the Divided Sections
Partially fill new pots with potting soil, leaving 1 inch space at the top.
If desired, place a layer of pebbles or rocks in bottom for extra drainage.
Dig a hole in the soil and insert a divided section, spreading roots out.
Position plantlet so the base is buried but leaves are above soil.
Backfill soil around roots and gently firm soil to stabilize.
After repotting, thoroughly soak the soil until water drains from the bottom.
Caring for Newly Divided Plants
Once divided and repotted, care for the new snake plants with:
- Bright, indirect light away from direct sun at first. Slowly reintroduce to more light.
- High humidity. Mist leaves regularly and place pots on pebble trays.
- Minimal watering initially, then more as plants establish. Allow soil to partially dry between waterings.
- Pot up divisions into larger containers as the root systems expand.
- Fertilizer applications every 6-8 weeks during the growing period. Use a balanced houseplant fertilizer.
- Repotting annually or whenever pots become crowded. Continually divide to keep plants growing vigorously.
Dividing overgrown snake plants encourages fresh growth and easily propagates new plants. You can follow these tips for successfully separating and repotting your Sansevieria.