I needed to divide my big heliamphora minor today and, motivated by Aviator's thread about other heli division I decided to make a little report.
My heliamphora minor after months of vivid growth started to grow smaller pitchers and got a bit crowded which means there is no more room for root expansion, this is what it looked like:
Instead of repotting it once again into bigger pot I cannot accommodate in my terrarium I decided to divide it into several plants. I have done this many times before but never had enough time on my hands to make a photo-report. This time I tried to take some pictures of how i do it.
First I removed all of the topping (sphagnum moss) and learned that roots have already started to shoot through the surface (indicating the need of repotting):
Using spatula, I carefully detached the substrate from the potside and by turning it over got the whole contents of the pot out:
It is clearly visible that the roots have already started to grow through bottom drainage mix:
Then I removed as much loose peat as possible. It is very important to do this with caution because even the strongest roots of Heliamphora are very easy to break (especially when they are new they are fragile). It is unwise to try to remove the bounded peat by force.
The residual peat I usually remove by dipping the root part into a vessel filled with distilled water. Then I swirl it around for a bit so the peat falls to the bottom:
It is very important to remove all the substrate because it allows us to see where exactly the roots are connected to the pitchers!
This is very regardful way of getting rid of the remnant peat from the fine roots. The plant now looks like this, free of substrate and ready to be divided:
With some Heliamphora species, the roots grow stepwise into the row as new pitchers form. Heliamphora minor has 'central' root system which means that most of the pitchers form radially around the main roots and there are not too many side-roots. This makes it really hard to divide the plant into more plants by just cutting them off. Sometimes we break off pitcher or root if we are not very careful. See how the root is centred:
Now people often get confused about where to start...the pitchers are often crowded and roots tangled. The best way I think is to find some juvenile pitchers and start from the side. Never use knife and try to divide the plant from the middle. You might break off a large clump without roots attached and possibly lose half of the plant. Then instead od propagating you make the plant smaller. Juvenile clumps usually have young roots connected with them and they break off easily:
It is considerate to put the detached plant into distilled water. Sometimes the 'surgery' take a long time and you dont want to leave the exposed roots dry out:
Then find some other clumps on the side (never break off clump with no growing pitcher/growing point!). See here a large clump on the side: