Pothos plants do not like to be root bound as it will stop it from absorbing water, nutrients and will slow its growth. Plants that are root bound will have roots that spiral around the bottom of the pot and can start to grow out of the drainage holes. Root bound pothos plants should be replanted into a new pot with fresh potting soil.
This article will explore if pothos plants like to be root bound, how it will affect the plant and how to repot a root bound pothos.
What does it mean for a pothos to be root bound?
A pothos that is root bound will have roots that are filling the bottom of the pot, often spiraling around because they have run out of room. This can happen if the plant is growing in a pot that is too small, if it has been in the pot for too long or has grown rapidly.
Pothos that are root bound will struggle to absorb the nutrients and water they need and can also lack oxygen as their roots fill the space. This can cause slow leaf growth, brown or yellow leaves and eventually plant death.
What happens to a root bound pothos
Pothos do not like to be root bound and there are some negative effects of this on the plant. Here are the top things that can happen to a root bound pothos.
Leaves droop quickly
Pothos plants that are root bound will not be able to absorb water as well so their leaves can droop quickly. This can happen quickly if the plant is getting direct sunlight particularly in summer.
If this is left for long enough the leaves can turn yellow and then brown and dry off completely. While you can add more water to the plant, this will usually only temporarily help the plant because it will struggle to hold water.
A root bound pothos will have less soil near the tips of the roots where a lot of the water is absorbed. This can lead to the plant drooping each day even though it watered well.
Slow leaf growth
Pothos that are root bound will slow their leaf growth. Roots that are wound around tightly will not have access to good quality soil to absorb nutrients from. This lack of nitrogen and other key nutrients for leaf growth will stop the plant adding new leaves and slow its growth to a standstill.
Leaves can become yellow or brown
When a plant is struggling to absorb nutrients because it is root bound the leaves will eventually turn yellow and then brown. This will be partly due to a lack of nutrients as well as a lack of water. Root bound plants can end up with yellow or brown leaves as a key symptom.
How to know a pothos is root bound
A root bound plant is a problem but are a few ways to tell if this is a problem for your pothos.
Roots will be coming from the bottom of the pot
A pothos plant that is root bound can often have roots that are starting to escape from the bottom of the pot. Once the roots have spiraled around, they can head out of the drainage holes reaching out for water and air.
While sometimes a pothos can have tiny roots heading out from the bottom, a root bound pothos will have lots of roots trying to escape and reach for more space.
The pot will feel firm
A pothos plant that is pot bound will feel firm on the bottom. When you squeeze it with your hand on the outside of the pot it will feel firm because the roots have wound around tightly.
This is a good sign that the pothos plant has become root bound and needs repotting.
Squeeze and lift the plant from the pot
Removing the plant from the pot gently is the best way to see if it has become root bound. You will see roots spiraling around the base of the plant even so tightly that it will take the shape of the pot.
There will be minimal soil left in the bottom of the pot and the bottom will have filled with roots. You can often see roots circling around the outside of the plant as well.
How often to repot pothos to prevent it becoming root bound
To prevent a pothos plant from becoming root bound you usually need to repot them every 2 years. Pothos that are planted in a small pot may need repotting every year. Increase the size of the pot by around 2 inches in width and depth to give it more space.
How to re-pot a root bound pothos
Repotting a pothos that is root bound is really easy and a great job to give your pothos a fresh start.
Steps to repot a root bound pothos.
- Choose a pot that is 2 inches larger than the pot it is in.
- Gently remove the plant from the pot, squeezing it around the outside and tipping it upside down.
- Tease the roots from the bottom of the plant, pulling them gently and uncurling them.
- Snip off any damaged roots with sharp secateurs.
- Place some fresh potting mix in your pot, add the plant and backfill around the edges with fresh potting mix.
- Water the plant well to settle the soil around the roots.
- Place it in a well lit place indoor out of direct sunlight
This will revive a root bound pothos plant and give it the space it needs to grow new leaves and stay bright green.
Do pothos plants like to be root bound? | Summary
Pothos do not like to be root bound but are a hardy plant and will bounce back quickly if they are repotted. Choose good quality potting mix and a pot that is 2 inches bigger to give your plant the space it needs without adding excess soil.