Root-bound plants are like trying to squeeze into your favorite pair of jeans that you've outgrown - they're just not going to be comfortable on you. The same goes for our leafy green friends. A plant is considered root bound when its roots have grown so densely that they fill the entire pot and have nowhere to expand. This can cause a number of unsavory issues that we would just rather not deal with. For instance -
When a plant becomes root bound, its roots can start competing for nutrients and water, like a group of toddlers fighting over the last cookie. This can lead to malnourishment and stunted growth, which is not a good look for anyone.
If a plant's roots are too cramped, they may start circling around inside the container like a dance party gone wrong. This can limit the plant's growth and make it look like a sad, wilted version of itself.
A root bound plant may have trouble with drainage, which is like getting stuck in the rain without an umbrella. Waterlogged soil can lead to root rot, mold growth, and other problems. Def NOT what we want for our precious plant babies.
A stressed-out plant is more prone to pests and diseases, just like a person who hasn't slept in a week and is more likely to catch a cold. So, it's important to keep our plants happy and healthy by giving them plenty of room to grow.
In conclusion, a root bound plant is like a cramped apartment - it's just not a good living situation. So, how do we rescue them once we discover they have become root bound?
To fix a root bound plant, try the following:
Repotting: Carefully remove the plant from its pot and loosen the roots by gently massaging them (like you're giving them a good shampoo). Then, repot the plant into a larger pot with fresh, well-draining soil. It's okay to reuse some of the old soil if it is still in good shape, but you will likely need more to fill the larger pot.
Pruning roots: If the roots are very tightly packed, you can trim some of the outer roots with sharp, sterile scissors, or a pruner. You know how they tell you to trim your hair to keep it healthy? Well - same concept. Trimming the roots will free them up to encourage new growth and improve the plant's overall health. Roots grow back.
Soil: Make sure to use well-draining soil and not overwater the plant after repotting. You don't want those freshly-freed roots sitting in water and rotting. That's a whole other post.
Watering: Water the plant thoroughly after repotting, ensuring that the soil is evenly moist. You should water around the entire plant, making sure that the moisture is distributed evenly. The water should seep into the soil easily and drain from the bottom. Which leads me to.....
Drainage: Make sure that the new pot has adequate drainage holes to prevent waterlogged soil. Don't believe the hype - rocks will not save you. You need holes. If you don't have holes, use a diamond drill bit to drill them or bring them to your local plant shop. Many offer low-cost drainage hole drilling.
Well, that's a wrap folks! But not a really tight one that will deprive you of nutrients and water. We've learned a lot about root bound plants today, and hopefully, you're feeling like a certified root expert. Remember, a root bound plant is like a caged bird - you need to give it room to spread its wings and grow!
If you've discovered that your plant is root bound, don't panic. Simply follow our tips to repot it and give it a new lease on life. And if you're feeling particularly adventurous, you could even try propagating some new baby plants while you've got her out of the pot!
So, let's all raise a glass (of water and maybe fertilizer because we've low-key been starving our plants ) to the power of repotting and the joy of watching our leafy green friends flourish. Happy planting!