Should You Repot Your Plant: Happy Root Bound Houseplants

Close Up Of Plant Roots
(Image credit: Renphoto)

The common advice when it comes to root bound houseplants is that when a houseplant roots become root bound, you should be repotting the root bound plant. In most cases, this is good advice, but for some plants, being root bound is actually how they prefer to be.

Plants That Prefer to be Root Bound

Some plants that are happier as root bound houseplants include:

Why Some Plants do Better as Root Bound

The reasons some houseplants perform better as root bound houseplants are varied. In some cases, like with a Boston fern or African violets, a houseplant does not transplant well and transplanting the root bound plant will be more likely to kill it then help it. In other cases, like with the Peace lily or Christmas cactus, the root bound houseplants will not produce blooms unless they are under some kind of stress. So, repotting a root bound plant like this means that although the plant will grow plenty of leaves, it will never produce the flowers that the plant is valued for. In still other cases, like with spider plants and aloe, the root bound houseplants will not produce offshoots unless the plant is cramped. Transplanting the root bound plant will result in a large mother plant, which will have no baby plants. Being root bound signals to the plant that the environment could be threatening and it will go into overdrive to make sure that there is a next generation to survive. Even with happier as root bound houseplants, you will need to eventually consider repotting the root bound plant if you want it to get any larger. Before transplanting root bound plants though, consider if maybe the plant would be more presentable and beautiful if it stays root bound for a little longer.

Heather Rhoades
Founder of Gardening Know How

Heather Rhoades founded Gardening Know How in 2007. She holds degrees from Cleveland State University and Northern Kentucky University. She is an avid gardener with a passion for community, and is a recipient of the Master Gardeners of Ohio Lifetime Achievement Award.