Is My Pothos Root Bound? How To Know It and What Should You Do?

Do you want to know if your pothos is Root bound? If yes, then you are in the right place. Today I want to show you how to check if your pothos is Rootbound and how to avoid such problems in the future.

Is My Pothos Root Bound?

Pothos become Root bound when the roots fill up their growing pot or container. This phenomenon happens when growing a plant in a container more minor than the roots or when you don’t re-pot the plant at the right time.

Root Bound Pothos

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Table of Contents

How Do I Know if My Pothos Is Root Bound?

Pothos become root bound when they outgrow their growing container, and the root system becomes entangled. In this case, the roots reach the edges of the pot, and they have nowhere else to go. So they start to twist and entangle around themselves, which can cause significant problems.

Another sign of root-bound pothos is when the older leaves start to yellow or when the newest leaves are not getting any bigger or stop growing.

When the roots of your pothos hit the side of the pot and start growing down, and they coil around it, or when the pot begins to fill with roots, you should think about root bound.

Root bound, as we will see later in this article, is not usually negative because it may serve some specific purposes in a few cases. But, generally, root bound is not something you should worry about because it can be easily fixed by following the simple steps below.

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What Should I Do if My Pothos Is Root Bound?

Root bound is not something you should worry about as long as you are armed with the proper knowledge on how to deal with it. In fact, I became a fan of looking for plants with root bound at the recycling center and bringing them back to life. And I can show you exactly how to do the same for your pothos in short steps. Just stick with me, and I’ll take you through the process.

The first thing that you need to do when dealing with root-bound pothos is to take your plant out of the pot. Sometimes it can be pretty tricky to get the plant out of the pot, especially If it’s in a plastic nursery container. It would help if you started by giving the pot a few squeezes to loosen it up. If that’s not working, you can flip the pot upside down, support it with one hand and then bang it on the side. In my experience, that usually helps you pull your plant off quickly.

After taking your root-bound pothos out of the pot, you need to clean its roots from waste or anything foreign to the plant. Then, you can trim the root-boundness using your hands, a scissor, or a handy saw. In this step, you can take up to 30 percent off the root-boundness without directly affecting the plant.

At this stage, we are almost done, and we are left with one final step to finishing the process. You can either put your pothos back in the same pot or re-pot them. The choice between these two opinions depends on how much your plant wants to grow. In fact, by trimming the root-bound plant, you stimulate the roots to produce more. As a result, you can put your plant in a bigger pot if you are looking for colossal pothos. But if you want to grow small pothos in your office or kitchen, you can use the same pot.

If you choose to bring your pothos back to the same pot after cutting the root boundness, you need to consider that you will be doing this process frequently because the trimmed roots tend to grow quickly. I prefer to put my pothos in a bigger pot after getting rid of the root boundness because a large pot will help my plant grow comfortably.

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How Do You Repot a Root Bound Pothos?

Root Bound Pothos ready for repotting

Re-poting a root-bound pothos starts by taking the plant out of the pot, which we explained in detail in the previous paragraphs. After taking the pothos out of the pot, we need to loosen the root-bound roots, so they’re not all coiled. Without reducing, they’ll keep coiling around if you plant them directly in the next pot.
You can gently work the roots of your pothos apart by shaking out some of the soil in the middle and loosening them up. And ideally, you want them to all be hanging down nice and loose because then, when you put them into the new pot, you can spread them out, and they won’t grow in a compacted circle.
Before choosing a new pot, you want to look for a couple of things. First, you want a pot that’s only an inch or two in diameter, bigger than the previous container. This is crucial because when you put your pothos into a huge pot, there will be excess soil. This means that when you water your plant, it will not be able to take up all the water that’s in the soil. As a result, the soil stays wet longer than it should, and that can cause root rot.
After getting a pot slightly bigger than the original one, you can add some soil until you reach about the bottom third of it. Then you can take your pothos and stick them in the soil. Here you want the plant’s crown, where the roots come out, to be about an inch below the surface. That gives you plenty of space to water your pothos without having the water spill over the edge.
Finally, you can go ahead and fill in with soil around the edge of the plant and gently tap it into place. You don’t want to compact the soil, but you also want to get rid of any air pockets down there, so try to manipulate the soil smoothly. You can also get rid of air pockets by watering your plant.

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Is Root Bound Bad for Pothos?

Plant roots getting damaged because of Root Bound

Root bound is a common issue for pothos because their popularity as plants that grow on neglect makes people forget about repotting them. The consequences of root bound are not as harmful as root rot or yellow leaves. However, if you want your pothos to grow big and look shiny, you must avoid root boundness as much as possible.

A common symptom that we see in root-bound pothos is curling leaves. Generally, the top leaves begin to curl when your plant is root bound in a smaller container.

In other plants like pepper, root-bound may cause some serious trouble. If you leave this plant in a small container, you’ll see that it will begin to flower early. I have seen many peeper plants starting to have a bunch of flower buds when the plant is still less than eight inches tall because of root bound.

In fact, when the root system has no more room to grow, the plant transitions into its fruiting stage, and that’s why you start to see flower buds early in some plants. And we recommend picking off those flower buds to keep the plant focused on growing more foliage until you can transplant it outside into a larger pot or an in-ground bed.

Now, you should not worry if your pothos, or any other plant, is root bound because this may be an advantage in some situations. For example, if you want a smaller plant or achieve harvests earlier in the season, then there’s nothing wrong with the plant becoming root-bound. In that case, we recommend planting in a smaller container as long as you’re happy with the size of the plant that you’re getting.

Having a root-bound plant doesn’t mean that it will strangle itself and die. It just means that it won’t grow any larger. The most crucial action you can take to avoid root-bound plants is planting and transplanting at the right time.

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How to Prevent Pothos from Being Root Bound?

If you love your pothos a lot and don’t want them to experience root bound, you can prevent this by taking some simple actions. First, you will need to transplant the pothos once a year, Ideally before winter. When transplanting your pothos, make sure you use a pot that can handle the roots of your plant for the next year without a problem.

How you manipulate the roots of your pothos during transplanting plays a significant role in avoiding root bound. That’s why you should tease and loosen up the soil around the roots and try to get them untangled as much as possible without damaging the root system.

You don’t want to overhandle the root system, as that can cause more damage than good, but a gentle massage of the roots is a good thing.

If you want to avoid root bound, some special liquid fertilizers are made to prevent transplant shock, which can help encourage the root system to grow strong.

Finally, we encourage fabric pots instead of plastic pots to avoid root bound. In fact, when using a fabric pot, the root system can keep producing healthy roots even when it reaches the edge of the pot because they come in contact with air. But in the case of plastic pots, the rooting system has access to moisture only. As a result, the plant will grow back into the soil in a tightened pattern.

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Pothos experience root bound when they become too big for their pot or growing container. It would help if you did not worry about this, as it will not kill your plant. Instead, you can fix this issue by taking your pothos out of the pot, cutting the root boundness, and then taking the plant to another pot. But if you want the leaves of your pothos to keep the same size, then you can put your plant in the same pot after cutting the root boundness.

The problem of pothos root bound can also be prevented by growing the plant using fabric pots and fertilizers that help reduce the transplant shock.

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Diana Cox

I'm Diana from I love to spend my free time in my garden. It's a place where I can be creative, feel calm and learn new things about life. I started gardening when I was in elementary school and it became a passion of mine. Now I love to share my love of gardening with others by teaching classes and giving advice.

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