Do Calatheas Like to Be Root Bound?

Calatheas are easy to grow, adaptable, and offer various colors and shapes. But do they like to be root bound or not?
When it’s rootbound, calathea’s roots grow into the pot’s sides instead of extending downwards. This causes the plant to grow slowly because it has difficulty absorbing water and nutrients from the soil. When calathea becomes rootbound, you can consider repotting the plant.
In this article, we’ll see if calathea like to be rootbound and how and when to repot this plant.
Let’s get started!

Root Bound Calathea

Do Calatheas like to Be Root Bound?

Calathea doesn’t like to be root bound because such a condition deprives the plant of getting two vital elements for its growth: water and nutrients. In fact, when a plant becomes rootbound, the roots start growing outside the soil. As a result, the stems and leaves stop getting water or nutrients from the soil through the roots.

Plants get their nutrients from the soil they grow in. They use water to transport the dissolved nutrients from the roots to the leaves and stems. Then, water and nutrients produce energy and keep the plant growing healthy. When the roots get outside the pot, the leaves will start yellowing and wilting and may eventually die. 

Root boundness has many drawbacks for the calathea plant. One, it restricts nutrients and water from reaching the rest of the plant. Another one is that root-bound calatheas usually grow slowly or have poor-quality foliage. Also, rootbound plants often develop problems like leaf curling and leaf drop. Finally, when a plant becomes rootbound, predators like slugs and snails can quickly eat the roots.

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How Do You Know If Calathea Is Root Bound?

Rootbound calathea can be tricky to identify, but stunted growth is the most common sign of this disorder. Generally, rootbound plants may struggle to get nutrients, which can lead to a smaller plant growing slower than usual.

Generally, calatheas can reach a height of 2 feet easily. If your plant struggles to get this height, you can conclude that it’s rootbound.

Another common sign of rootbound calathea is discolored or spotted leaves. This occurs because the lack of nutrients prevents the plant from performing photosynthesis and producing chlorophyll. When chlorophyll is absent, the plant can’t preserve its green color.

Chunks of soil from the pot are another sign of a root-bound calathea. Generally, you will notice this while watering your plant. This happens because overgrown roots break the soil causing chunks of soil to fall out.

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How to Save a Rootbound Calathea Plant?

A rootbound calathea is not something to worry about because it can be easy to save. All you have to do is to dig up the plant and repot it. It would be best if you repotted it in a new container slightly larger than the old one. This way, the plant will have room to develop strong and healthy roots.

Preparing a pot to save Save a Rootbound Calathea Plant

Make sure that you add some fertilizer to the new soil so the plant can access the nutrients it needs.

Once the plant is repotted, you should water it and keep the temperature and humidity on point. In fact, if you want your plant to get nutrients quickly, you should water it just after reporting. Water your calathea thoroughly after you move it to the new pot, and keep checking the soil every day using a moister meter and see if the soil is dry. Generally, plants that have been rootbound will consume water and nutrients at a higher rate than usual.

As soon as your calathea gets the nutrients it needs, it will start to recover and show you healthy growth again.

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How Do I Repot Rootbound Calathea?

Plant Repotting is a straightforward process, allowing your calathea to grow larger and healthier. Before repotting your calathea plant, ensure you have the right tools. The first thing that you will need is a pot with suitable drainage holes. Next, you’ll want a nutrient-rich potting mix that offers good drainage.

Once you have the suitable soil and the right pot, you can report your calathea plant following the process below:

Step 1 – Remove the Plant from the Pot: You need to remove the plant from the old pot without causing any damage. To do this, loosen the soil in the pot and carefully remove the plant from the pot. Once the plant is removed, gently shake it to remove as much of the dirt as possible. Using a small garden rake to remove the remaining soil from the roots would be best.

Step 2 – Clean the Roots: After removing the plant from the pot, you need to clean the roots. You can do this with a hose or by using a brush.

Step 3 – Trim the Roots: Cut around the root ball using a sharp knife, leaving at least 1 inch of the root ball exposed. You can also remove any part of the root that has been damaged.

Step 4 – Move the Plant to the New Pot: Now that the roots are cut, you can move the plant to the new pot. Start by adding the potting mix to the pot, then gently place the plant into the pot. Be sure not to disturb the plant’s roots while moving it into the new pot. 

Step 5 – Water the Plant: When you move the plant from the old pot to the new one, you’ll want to water it immediately. This will help settle the roots into the unique pot. Wait for the soil to dry out completely before watering again.

Step 6 – Monitoring the Plant: Now that the plant has been moved to the new pot, it’s time to monitor temperature, humidity, and light. You can watch the temperature by using a thermometer and placing it next to the plant. Humidity can be measured with a hygrometer, which is also helpful in measuring the amount of water in the soil. Finally, you can measure light levels with a light meter. It would help if you took action immediately whenever you see that one of the previous parameters is not within the appropriate range.

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When Should I Repot My Calathea?

The most common reason for repotting calathea is when the plant becomes rootbound or the soil is no longer suitable. Calathea’s soil becomes defective when it gets depleted of nutrients or stops guaranteeing good drainage.

In the sections above, we’ve gone through the signs of rootbound calathea in detail. Let’s now see how and when calathea’s soil becomes defective.

The first sign that calathea’s soil is becoming defective is that the plant’s leaves begin to turn yellow and wilt. This happens because the roots cannot get essential nutrients from the soil. Calathea’s roots need nitrogen and phosphorous to grow and flourish. The leaves will lose their original color when the soil is deficient in these two elements.

Another sign of a soil deficiency is that the calathea leaves turn brown and wilted. This usually happens when the soil is deficient in nitrogen.

A calathea growing in depleted soil will look stunted, limp, and unappealing. In fact, soil nutrients give plants the building blocks to create healthy, thriving leaves and stems. Therefore, undernourished calatheas will not grow as well as they could. Roots may look sparse, branches have little strength, and stems can be brittle and weak.

It will be hard to spot nutrient deficiencies unless you use a soil test kit to check the soil for nitrogen, phosphorous, potassium, magnesium, calcium, and other essential elements.

A soil test is performed by collecting soil samples and testing them for mineral content. You can use the information to supplement your plant with the needed minerals and keep them healthy.

The soil test results give you insight into whether to use fertilizers or not and which fertilizer to use.

If you wonder if your soil is depleted, consider ordering a soil test from a reputable company.

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