Free plants! Discover the wonderful propagation technique of division!
Want to get more bang for your buck? See how to get up to 10 times more plants for free by simply dividing seedlings, herbs, and established plants. It’s the wonderful propagation technique of division!
Gardeners are a thrifty bunch by nature, and we’re going to show you how bag yourself some more plants. Now’s the time to double, triple or even quadruple purchased seedlings—by simply dividing them.
Take cabbage seedlings as an example. They’re sold as a pack of six, but look closer and you can see there’s more than one seedling in each plug. So, let’s work a little green-fingered-and-thumbed magic and double what we’ve got here.
- Carefully separate out the seedlings. Push out the seedlings from their plugs, then carefully wash away the potting mix to expose more of the roots. This will also help to untangle the roots, making them a lot easier to separate out.
- Replant seedlings into new plug trays and let grow for another week or so – or perhaps till the roots refill their plugs.
- If your soil is well prepared to a nice, fine-textured tilth, you could plant these seedlings out directly without growing them on, but with the birds and slugs in the garden, it might be wise to get them to beef out a bit first.
- As well as separating out seedlings from a plug tray, you can separate out young ‘starts’ in pots that you buy from a nursery. (See video demonstration.)
Divided Potted Herbs
Ever purchased “living herbs” from a grocery store? That’s a very simple hack which will be rewarded with a whole heap of herbs for not very much at all!
With loads of herb plants in one pot, it’s simply to take them out of their pots and start separating them out When buying herbs for this purpose, choose really healthy, well-filled pots. The plants should have a lush, deep-green foliage that isn’t in any way limp or yellowed. You want to start off with strong plants to minimize the chances of them struggling.
Check the bottom of the pot. The roots will often be quite pot-bound. You have a couple of options here.
- You could just carefully pull these apart to create three or four smaller clumps of plants. Then pot these up into their own pots (slightly bigger than the original) with fresh potting mix. This way they have lots of extra room to grow and should bush out nicely. These could go straight onto your kitchen windowsill to use as needed, or grown on in a greenhouse or cold frame, say. These will now last a few months as long as they have enough light.
- Another option is to go a step further and separate out every single herb plant and then repot each one into its own pot. This works well with basil, parsley, and many potted herbs. To do this, start by carefully tearing the root ball of your herb plant into two in order to more clearly see what’s going on. Then just work from the edge, gently teasing away one plant at a time. Some may snap or come away with next-to-no root, so are best discarded, but many plants should come of this approach. (See video demo.) Once separated, pot them on into their own pots using an all-purpose potting mix.
Now there’s one more step. Pinch out the growing tips. To do this, simply nip off the very top pair of leaves between your finger and thumb like this. This will encourage the plants to branch out from this point, creating a more rounded, bushier plant that will give a lot more to pick further down the line.
Grow herbs on in a bright, frost-free place just to help them establish. This is essential for the basil, which is a tender herb. Before they go outside these herbs will need hardening off. Then plant! Herbs are often great companion plants so consider which plants could benefit from being paired with herbs.
Don’t forget you can also grow more herbs from cuttings.
Dividing Established Plants
Spring is a great time to divide established plants that you might already have in the garden. At this time of year they’re just starting off into growth and are raring to go, so should settle down and grow away nicely after you’ve divided them.
If you herbs in the garden, dividing up the clumps is the perfect thing to o. Dividing herbs not only creates more plants, it rejuvenates older plants that may be starting to struggle by giving them a new lease of plants. Just replant the sections you divide, then discard the dead or lackluster center to the plant.
- Just dig up the plant, getting all of the roots. With more established plants you may need to use hand forks, garden forks, or even a sharp spade to divide them.
- Shake off excess oil to expose more of the roots and better see the plant.
- Get your hands in there and divide the clump into several pieces. Each section needs to have its own shoots.
- Replant in a space that is amended with some compost and perhaps a little slow-release organic fertilizer. Or pot up the small herb starts into large containers filled with a soil-based potting mix to grow them on a bit before giving them away to gardening friends.
You can divide pretty much any herb that forms a clump such as oregano, chives, lemonbalm, thyme, marjoram, as well as, of course, the host of mints.
You’ll be pleased with the result. For a bit of loose change, you’ll get back so many herbs and extra vegetable seedlings in return!