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How To Know A Root Bound Pothos?

Root Bound Pothos is the last thing you want to see, believe me. Pothos likes to spread freely with spacious legroom, but keeping it in tight planters is a no-no.

Generally, roots protruding from the drainage holes of the pot or cramming on the topsoil, swollen or cracked containers, drooping, wilting, yellowing, progressive browning of leaves, and stunted growth are all signs of Root Bound Pothos.

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People often think Pothos can thrive with a dense root system (not always the case, though). Do you want to find out if your Pothos is Root Bound? Let’s learn about some alarming signs!

Do Pothos Like Being Root Bound?

Pothos are wild plants with enough soil to expand and develop the root system in a natural habitat without hindrance.

If we grow them in a very tiny pot, they will go towards survival mode.

Limited space and resources will prevent your Pothos from getting bushy and can sometimes choke themselves.

Pothos dislikes Root Bound conditions, disrupting its overall development. They prefer pots with enough space for proper and unrestrained growth of the roots.

Image represents a Root Bound Pothos
As a Pothos plant becomes old, its roots crowd and curl inside the pot.

A Root Bound Pothos will not have the appropriate amount of soil to carry nutrients, oxygen, and water throughout the plant, exhibiting slower or stunted growth.

The leaves start drooping and appear yellow with leggy stems and loss of luster.

Signs of Root Bound Pothos

Symptoms of a Root Bound Pothos can be categorized by looking at the condition of plant parts above the soil.

Many signs are very similar to underwatering or overwatering. But sometimes, you must uproot the plant from the pot and check its roots.

A Root Bound Pothos will start demonstrating the following symptoms.

1. Roots Spiraling Around The Pot

Suppose you feel it is time to re-pot your Pothos, uproot them, and check the roots.

Are they spiraling around the pot and forming a web-like connection all through? Well, you are right! Your Pothos needs a bigger pot.

The roots tend to go in a spiral pattern when there is no space to go down or spread across.

Additionally, the roots will form a dense ball-like structure with the impression of a pot.

Image represents spiraling roots of Root Bound Plant
Roots of Pothos spiral around the pot creating a stressful situation for the plant and ultimately killing it due to suffocation.

How to know if the roots are spiraling without uprooting the plant? Check the drainage holes.

If you see tiny roots creeping out of these holes, your Pothos is definitely Root Bound.

Many of us excessively prune the roots to fit in the same pot. But, this act will prevent your Pothos from overall development.

2. Stunted or Slow Growth

A stunted Pothos takes ages to trail and produce new leaves. This is the first sign of a stunting Pothos.

Furthermore, Root Bound Pothos cannot take enough nutrients from the soil, and the plant stops feeding.

As the plant is unable to feed itself, its growth stops. You will notice that the new leaves are considerably smaller than the old ones.

Also, the plant refrains from getting fresh leaves. and the old leaves start going brownish.

3. Cracks and Fracture Lines Around The Pot

Pothos plants have solid roots, causing your beautiful ceramic pots to break.

Speaking with experience, it all starts with a fine fracture line on the pot. And, one day, a big chunk of the pot will fall off, exposing the outgrown roots!

The roots start pushing the walls of your pot when they have limited spaces available to grow.

This causes pressure on the pots and causes breakage.

4. Discolored and Wilted Leaves

Although discolored leaves indicate watering problems, they are also significant signs of Root Bound Pothos.

The leaves start turning yellow, especially the ones close to the base of the plant.

They also appear to be wilting and limping. And finally, the foliage slowly starts to lose its shiny appearance.

Image represents a wilting Pothos plant
Pothos can exhibit yellow and wilting leaves due to a lack of nutrients reaching the aerial parts of the plant.

5. Roots Growing in Upwards Direction

Pothos plants have aerial roots emerging out of almost every leaf node.

But, if you see numerous roots creeping out of the soil upwards, this could indicate a lack of space inside the pot.

In Pothos, new roots form in an upward direction when the plant pot is packed with abundant roots.

6. Topsoil Drying Too Fast

If your Pothos is highly thirsty, it’s probably Root Bound.

Try pouring a cup of water (or 2 cups if you have a huge Pothos) onto the pot.

If the water is absorbed immediately within seconds, the roots have outgrown excessively.

However, if the water absorption is slow and gradual, your Pothos is good to go!

Also, if the topsoil seems cracking and flaking on the surface, it is probably an indication of Root Bound Pothos.

Will Root Bound Pothos Die?

It’s uncommon for Pothos to die by Root Bounding as you will start noticing something wrong with your Pothos immediately after the onset.

But it’s considerably easy to nurse Root Bound Pothos back to health.

And if they still die, it is either due to starvation or stress caused by root binding.

Furthermore, Root Bound Pothos will become severely malnourished and die without help.

If you consider the lifespan of Pothos, it will become easy to maintain care requirements for the plant as it ages.

Saving a Root Bound Pothos

You can save your Root Bound Pothos by repotting or diving your plant.

1. Repotting the Root-Bound Pothos

Repotting is always recommended to save your Pothos from Root Bound conditions.

Follow the steps below to efficiently repot your Root Bound Pothos.

Step 1: Remove the Pothos from the Pot

Carefully remove the Pothos plant from its pot without causing damage to the roots.

For a plastic pot, slightly press the sides until the plant comes out.

In a terracotta or ceramic pot, turn the pot upside down and gently pat the pot’s base.

Image represents repotting a Root Bound Pothos
The best way to save a Root Bound Pothos is to repot into a wider and deeper planter.

Step 2: Trim the Roots

Root pruning is not the best approach if you want fast-growing Pothos.

Cautiously free the root ball from the soil clumps using a fork.

Use a pair of sterilized shears to cut the dead or decaying roots to prevent infection.

Make sure not to over-prune the roots as it can kill your Pothos due to excessive stress.

Step 3: Choose a Pot

Prepare a pot 2-3 inches wider and deeper than the existing pot with drainage holes at the bottom.

This is crucial because moving the plant to a much larger pot can start problems like root diseases.

Step 4: Prepare Sterilized Potting Mix

Prepare a healthy and sterilized potting mix. Avoid using garden soil as it contains various micro-organisms and can cause infection.

You can add some organic perlite for better drainage. Fill the three-fourth part of the pot with the potting mix.

Step 5: Plant the Pothos

Plant the Pothos in the new pot and make sure the roots are inserted in a downward direction.

Additionally, avoid covering the base of the stem with soil, as it can cause stem decay.

Step 6: Hydrate Repotted Pothos

Water the newly repotted Pothos to keep the soil moist.

Adequate moisture helps the roots recover efficiently.

Know about the process of repotting Pothos from the video below.

2. Divide the Root Bound Pothos

Root division is one of the best ways to save Root Bound Pothos.

Below are four easy steps to divide your plant.

  • Water your Pothos 1-2 days before repotting and carefully uproot the plant.
  • Use a fork to separate the roots. For heavily Root Bound Pothos, submerse the root ball in a bucket of water to help them separate.
  • While separating the roots and individual Pothos plants in equal halves, ensure each plant has at least a few roots.
  • Plant each divided Pothos in a separate pot with fresh soil.
Image illustrates the process of dividing a root bound plant
The basic way to separate a root-bound plant is to cut it in half and transplant it in separate planters by spreading its roots at the bottom.

Other Points to Remember

  • Spring and Summer are the best time to re-pot your Pothos. However, avoid repotting in winter.
  • If the roots are crowdy and you cannot take them out of the pot, slowly cut or break the pot without damaging the roots.
  • You can cut away both the large roots and the small roots.
  • Avoid fertilizing Pothos after repotting. Freshly pruned and recovering roots cannot absorb fertilizers properly.
  • Do not place the Pothos in a sunny spot. Harsh temperatures and light might dry your Pothos.
  • Check the roots of new Pothos. Due to the usage of small pots, most Pothos in stores is Root Bound.

Preventing Pothos from Being Root Bound

Ensure that your pot is big enough to let your Pothos grow freely and without confinement.

However, using a huge pot might also affect the plant’s development.

However, you will find a few tips below to ensure your Pothos never face issues with root bounding to themselves.

1. Prune the Plant Now and Then

I know that it is very tempting to leave your Pothos as it is when they start growing into beautiful beings.

However, if you want to save yourself trouble, it is best to trim the roots at least once a year.

Avoiding excessive trimming allows Pothos to save some leaves for later growth and causes less stress for the plant.

Image represents a leggy Pothos plant
While repotting Pothos, trim all the leggy growths, such as leaves and stems, to give it a bushier shape.

2. Repot Once Every Year or Two

Repotting is one of the best ways to ensure that the roots are not bound and suffocate inside a tiny pot.

Besides, depending upon the size of your Pothos, you can repot it every 1-2 years (for a medium-sized Pothos).

Or, if your Pothos is huge, you can repot it every spring.

3. Divide the Plant

One of the common ways of preventing Root Bound Pothos is to divide the plant.

It will help the plant grow independently in a spacious environment.

And on a brighter note, you will have numerous Pothos!

FAQs on Root Bound Pothos

Does Pothos Like to be Root Bounding?

Pothos like a little snuggle around its roots, but always use a larger pot and fresh potting mix to repot the plant.

Should you Repot a Newly Bought Pothos Plant?

Pothos from stores is kept for growing in small pots and maybe Root Bound. So, it’s fitting to offer them a wider and deeper pot immediately.

Will Pothos Recover from Root Binding?

By offering your Pothos a roomy planter, cutting all the yellow or brown leaves, and timely repotting, they can bounce back within a few weeks.

From Editorial Team

Promote Annual Repotting for Pothos!
Pothos is a forgiving plant, but not so much if you disturb its space. Unless it’s necessary, don’t stress your plant by frequent repotting.
Remember to monitor for the care calls and use a wider pot for annual repotting in spring.

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