Do Philodendrons Like to Be Root Bound? The Surprising Truth Revealed

Ah, philodendrons! Those lovely houseplants with their lush foliage, always eager to sprout new leaves and climb, but never quite revealing their true feelings about their living conditions. Do philodendrons like to be root-bound, or are they secretly begging for more space to stretch their roots? Fear not, fellow plant enthusiasts, for we are here to unravel this botanical mystery and set the record straight. Join us on this leafy adventure as we explore the world of root bound philodendrons and learn how to keep them happy and healthy.

Key Takeaways

  • Root bound philodendrons don’t love being stuck in a tight spot, time to call the plant rescue squad!

  • Choose the right pot size, mix up some magical soil and give your leafy buddy a spa day with pruning & root trimming.

  • Repotting done? Don’t forget regular hydration & fertilizer doses for long term health – or try “spa day” refreshing instead!

Root Bound Philodendrons: The Facts

Before we discuss root binding, a common question often arises: Do philodendrons actually enjoy being root bound? Contrary to popular belief, philodendrons don’t fancy being cooped up in a tight pot with fresh soil, longing for room to roam. Being root bound can lead to a philodendron feeling stressed, its growth stunted, and its overall health in a bit of a pickle, as it’s not getting what it needs to be happy.

So, what kind of problems can root binding cause to our leafy friends? Well, it can result in a growth slump and fewer blooms than usual, as our philodendron pals don’t appreciate being all rooty-tooty-tied-up. In other words, being root bound doesn’t give a philodendron an extra hug, and it’s far from ideal for maintaining a healthy plant.

Signs Your Philodendron is Root Bound

Root-bound philodendron plant without a pot

Now that we know our philodendrons don’t enjoy being root bound, how do we recognize when they’re feeling a bit cramped? Keep an eye out for these classic symptoms: yellowing leaves, stunted growth, and roots growing out of the drainage holes like tiny escape artists. If you spot these signs, it’s time to put on your superhero cape and come to the rescue of your beloved plant.

But be cautious, brave plant caretakers! Philodendrons contain calcium oxalate, a compound that can cause skin irritation when you handle them. So, either don your trusty gloves before tending to your leafy friend or wash your hands thoroughly after your heroic deeds.

Pros and Cons of Root Bound Philodendrons

A philodendron plant with lush foliage in a slightly larger pot

As with most things in life, there are ups and downs to root bound philodendrons. On the bright side, these plants can grow like crazy and look super lush, making you the envy of all your plant-loving friends who like to be root bound themselves. However, this growth spurt comes at a cost, as our leafy buddies don’t appreciate being all tangled up in their aerial roots.

The consequences of having a pot-bound philodendron include:

  • Snail-like growth

  • Yellowing leaves

  • Sahara Desert-like soil

  • Droopy leaves

  • Dehydration

  • Nutrient deficiency

  • Root rot

  • Fungal infections

While there are some benefits to a root bound philodendron, it’s important to consider the positives and negatives before deciding whether to let your plant remain in its current pot.

How to Prevent and Manage Root Bound Philodendrons

To prevent root binding and maintain your philodendron’s health, mastery in pot selection, soil mixing, and pruning techniques is required. We will discuss these skills in detail, helping you understand your philodendron better.

Choosing the Right Pot Size

Selecting the appropriate pot size for your philodendron is vital to ensure optimal growth and prevent root binding. The ideal pot size for a philodendron depends on the size of the plant. Smaller plants only require a pot that is just 2 to 3 inches larger than the root ball. For larger plants, select a larger pot that is proportionate to their size..

When repotting a root bound philodendron, follow these steps:

  1. Aim for a new pot that’s about two inches bigger than the current one and around a third of the philodendron’s length deep.

  2. Choose a pot that retains water, as this is a better choice than unglazed terra cotta.

  3. Consider using Rio Grande round fiberglass planters from Jay Scotts for a fancy option.

Proper Soil Mix for Philodendrons

Using the appropriate soil mix for your philodendron is key to healthy growth and prevention of root binding issues. Philodendrons prefer a slightly acidic soil pH level of 5.0 to 6.0, just like a good cup of coffee. They also appreciate a soggy 2 or 3 on the moisture meter, so make sure to provide them with a soil mix that retains water well.

For the perfect soil blend to create an ideal soil surface, we recommend a mix of:

  • Coir

  • Perlite

  • Small sponge rock

  • Pine bark

  • Charcoal

  • Vermiculite

To avoid dealing with excess soil, carefully measure the components to create the ideal blend for your plants.

This combination provides excellent drainage, ensures proper moisture retention, and gives your philodendron the nutrients it needs to thrive.

Pruning and Root Trimming Techniques

Regular pruning and root trimming can have a positive impact on your philodendron’s growth and health. By removing decaying or diseased roots, you redirect the plant’s energy towards new, healthier growth. Plus, it can give your philodendron a stylish haircut and encourage leaf production and overall development.

The recommended root trimming technique for root-bound philodendrons is to trim any damaged or unhealthy roots. Feel free to lose up to one-third of the roots during the trimming process—no need to feel guilty about it! You can also untangle the roots and replant your philodendron in a larger pot, giving it the space it needs to flourish.

Repotting Philodendrons: Step-by-Step Guide

Repotting your root bound philodendron is necessary for its sustained growth and health. But fear not, for we have prepared a comprehensive guide to help you repot your leafy companion safely and effectively.

First, remove the plant from its current pot and gently separate the roots, lightening the root ball. If your philodendron has multiple stems, you can divide it by separating the stems, ensuring each divided section has enough roots and leaves to keep it going.

Next, here’s what you need to do:

  1. Plant each divided section in a different pot with new potting soil.

  2. Give the newly divided plants a good soaking.

  3. Finally, place them in an area where they can thrive and watch them grow like never before.

It is important to make several vertical cuts from top to bottom around the perimeter of the root ball when repotting, especially if the soil roots are tight as a drum in the same pot. This helps the plant to establish quicker in its new pot. This will give the roots the chance to stretch their legs and grow anew.

Remember, it’s important to maintain consistent growing conditions to prevent transplant shock.

Caring for Your Philodendron Post-Repotting

After repotting, it’s important to take proper care of your philodendron to ensure its sustained growth and health. Start by giving your newly repotted philodendron a break for at least seven to ten days before letting the soil in the new container get all soggy. Then, keep your philodendron hydrated by giving it a sip of water every 4-7 days, just enough to keep it living its best life.

Apart from proper watering, treat your philodendron plant with a balanced fertilizer once a month during the growing season. This will help your plant grow strong and healthy, producing new leaves and maintaining its lush foliage.

Alternative Solution for Root Bound Philodendrons

If repotting isn’t exactly your thing, or you’re simply looking for alternative solutions, you could consider refreshing the soil without repotting. This method can do wonders for managing root-bound philodendrons.

By providing fresh nutrients and improving the overall health of the plant, you essentially offer your philodendron a spa day, complete with hydration, massage, and a warm bubble bath.


In conclusion, while philodendrons may appear to enjoy being root-bound, it’s not the ideal living situation for these leafy companions. By recognizing the signs of root binding and taking proper action through repotting, pruning, and providing the right soil mix, you can ensure your philodendron thrives and continues to grow. So, go on and give your philodendron the care it deserves, and watch it flourish under your watchful eye.

Frequently Asked Questions

How do I know when to repot my philodendron?

Looks like it’s time to break out the potting soil and give your Philodendron some fresh digs – its roots are likely starting to show, and its growth is slowing. Don’t wait too long – repot every two to three years and your Philodendron will stay happy and healthy!

Do philodendrons like climbing or hanging?

Philodendrons love to climb, due to their rootlets along the length of their stems. However, they are also happy to trail out of a container or basket. Non-climbing types of philodendron sprout leaves from the base of the plant. So if you’re looking for a climber, go for a philodendron!

How do you fix a root bound philodendron?

Got a root bound philodendron? Not to worry – the fix is simple! Start by cutting into the root ball and pruning the roots, then soak them and untangle them. Once you’re done, transplant your plant into a larger pot and you’ll be good to go!

What kind of pots do philodendrons like?

Philodendrons like glazed ceramic pots, plastic pots or hanging baskets that are 1 to 2 inches larger in diameter than the root ball. To make them happiest, fill them with Miracle-Gro® Indoor Potting Mix and watch those beautiful foliage flourish!

Do philodendrons like to be root bound?

Root bound philodendrons don’t have much to smile about – it can significantly hinder their growth and health!


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