How to Divide Snake Plant

So my Snake Plant (specifically: Sansevieria Trifasciata ‘Futura Superba’) recently outgrew it’s pot.  I have been meaning to divide it up and replant / repot it for some time, but, you know, life…  It wasn’t until it literally cracked it’s clay pot apart (broke out of it’s shell?) did I finally take action.  I figured since this can be a fairly common thing, I should go ahead and make a “How-To” for it.  So here we go.

Skill Level: Easy

What You Need:

Gardening Knife or Gardening Shears

Nisaku Stainless Steel “Hori-Hori” Garden (Weed/Soil) Knife.
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Fiskars Steel Bypass Pruning Shears.
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Pots to Accommodate the Separated Plants

Black Plastic Indoor Pots with Drainage Hole and Tray.
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White Plastic Indoor Pots with Drainage Hole and Tray.
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Potting Soil

Miracle-Gro Cactus, Palm, and Citrus Potting Mix. Great for Succulents.
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Miracle-Gro Indoor Potting Mix. Great for any indoor plant.
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Time: Depends on the size of the plant you are dividing.
Anywhere from 5 to 10 minutes for small plants, to a few hours for a mess like mine.

Here is what my Snake Plant looked like a few months before it’s explosion (sorry for the bad resolution, I had to cut this from another photo).

As you can see here, it’s just a ginormous root ball, next to the remains of it’s previous home.

Here is another view from the bottom.  There was less than a cup of dirt left in the entire mass.

When it gets this bad, there is not much you can do to play nice.  I will try to update this post again in the future when I am ready to divide another plant.  But basically, you need to start from the outside and work your way in.  Looking for the easiest targets first.

Lets start with the low hanging fruit.  Here you can see an off-shoot growing out of the right side of an established plant. There are actually two parts to a Snake Plant’s roots, the Rhizome, which is the thick stalk, and then the smaller roots. In this case, we are going to be separating the Rhizomes.

We are going to remove this off-shoot from it’s host.  Using a sharp gardening knife or shears, you want to cut the Rhizome along the edge of the main shoot, while gently pulling the off-shoot away from it’s parent. Don’t worry too much about damaging the smaller roots, as long as you have a healthy Rhizome, the smaller roots will easily regrow.

To be honest, you can also just grab and break/crack off the off-shoot if you don’t have something sharp available.  Or in my case, if you can’t easily access the Rhizome. Snake plant is pretty hardy, and even though this may stress the individual pieces a little, they usually survive the process.  The reason you want to cut as opposed to break is to control the amount of Rhizome attached to each individual plant.  New off-shoots haven’t had a chance to really establish themselves yet, so you want to give them as much Rhizome mass as possible to ensure survival.

From there, you just work your way in.  In bad cases (like my example), you can’t always access a good area to cut the plant.  In which case, I went for the outer most shoots, and grabbed them by the base of the leaves, and pulled away from the main plant till they snapped off.  It is not the cleanest process, but my plant was too far along for a clean break.  So start before your plant ends up with a broken home.

I then separated the plants by size, so I could start prepping the pots. The large plant on the right was the original plant I purchased many years ago.

When re-potting the individual pieces, I try to pick a pot large enough that I can position the plant in the center of the pot, while also allowing enough space for future off-shots. When Snake Plant is happy, it can start new off-shoots fairly quickly. You don’t want to pack the soil too firmly, just enough to support the plant so it remains vertical. I try to do the re-potting in the bag of soil itself, as I find it easier to control the amount of soil I use, test different pot sizes, and easily dump excess back into the bag.  For detailed potting instructions, see my post “How to Grow Snake Plant“.

After all was said and done, I ended up with 18 individual plants.  All of which are still alive today, and some of which will be going on sale in the near future.

Once you have finished re-potting all of the original plants, you want to keep them out of direct sun for the first month. This is to give the plant some time to reestablish it roots so it can pull the water it needs to survive direct/full sunlight.

Disclaimer:  I am an amateur gardener with no professional experience (yet).  The above information is a combination of mostly my personal experience, augmented with information I have gleaned from various other sources.  I will not be held accountable for any tomfoolery, shenanigans, bad life choices, or heaven forbid, something bad happens to your plant.

That being said, I welcome constructive feedback.  If you have any questions, comments, corrections, or requests, please reply below.

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