Many plants prefer remaining slightly root-bound, but no plant will enjoy staying in the root-bound state for too long. If you have a croton plant at your house, you might want to know if it likes to be root-bound.
So, in this article, we shall discuss whether crotons like to be root bound or not.
As a general rule, Croton plants don’t like to remain root bound, but they don’t prefer too big of a pot either. Keep them in a pot where they remain slightly root bound, which helps in better growth. But, if they remain root-bound for long, it might result in stunted growth.
In this article, you’ll understand everything you need to know about rootbound croton and how to deal with it.
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Do crotons like to be in small pots?
Crotons do not like to stay in excessively cramped pots because they do not like to stay root-bound.
When the roots of croton do not find enough space to grow, they become suffocated, which stunts their growth and brings other problems.
When the crotons face this challenge, their energy gets diverted to blooming instead of growing more foliage.
Crotons give out offspring when they remain root-bound.
Some growers keep their crotons in smaller pots to make them root-bound and force them to bloom.
But these plants prefer enough space to spread their roots, similar to how they grow in their natural habitat.
When a croton plant gets root-bound, the soil reduces compared to the root system.
Such a situation will reduce the nutrients that go into the plant and stop the growth of the croton.
Growers keep their crotons in a root-bound situation to make them bloom, posing a risk for the plant.
However, one can get beautiful blooms without risking their croton’s life by potting them in pots appropriate to the plant’s size.
Read on to know about the importance of pot size and how it affects the life of your croton.
Also read: What happens if you put a plant in too big of a pot?
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How do I know if my croton is root-bound?
There are several ways to identify root-bound croton.
- One of the first and the clearest signs of root-bound croton is that the roots start to come out of the pot’s drainage hole.
- The pots start to inflate as the roots get pushed out from the inside.
- Next, we tend to observe the roots from the top of the soil. The roots will start reaching the soil’s surface and become visible.
- Stunted growth.
- One more sign you should look out for is whether the croton gets dehydrated frequently.
So when the croton gets root-bound, the roots reduce the soil, due to which the water drains too quickly because there is no soil to hold the water.
This pushes the plant to dehydration, and leaves may appear to get yellow and droopy.
It is also a sign that your croton is under stress.
Due to the plant getting root-bound, it starts to face nutrient deficiency.
Once the soil starts to reduce, the fertilizer or nutrients added to the soil start to drain away quickly with water making the plant suffer from nutrient deficiency.
Another significant sign of root-bound croton is that the growth reduces, and the plant begins to understand that it may die soon, so it focuses on blooming to have offspring instead of foliage growth.
Removing a root-bound plant from the pot becomes very difficult as the roots tend to stick themselves to the pot.
This may also result in the pot cracking under the pressure of the root ball.
Different stages of a root-bound croton
There are different stages of root-bound crotons.
Depending on this stage, you can decide your actions.
Let’s find out what these stages are.
First stage: This is the stage where your croton has just started entering the root-bound condition.
If you take the croton out of the pot, you’ll notice that the roots have started to get tangled.
Many people like to leave their croton at this stage to force blooming.
Second stage: In this stage, the plant moves to a more advanced root-bound condition.
The roots start getting clustered around the root ball of the plant.
This is the best time to repot your croton to save it from unhealthy stress and other issues.
Third stage: This is the final call where the plant gets heavily root-bound.
Besides roots coming out of the drainage holes or appearing above the soil surface, they also replace the soil due to lack of space.
If your croton is in this stage of its root-bound condition, you need to act fast and repot the plant.
When should I repot my croton?
Crotons are a plant that does not like changes in its soil, pot, location, etc.
Any such changes immediately make them stressed.
So crotons should not be disturbed and repotted only when necessary.
The best time to repot croton is when the plant grows actively in spring-summer.
You must not repot or disturb this plant during the winter when it grows slower than the other seasons.
Repotting must be done when the croton starts showing the signs of being root-bound.
When the roots start coming out of the drainage holes or top of the soil surface, water drains straight out of the drainage holes after watering instead of being absorbed by croton.
One must understand that the croton requires a bigger pot.
Also, if the plant starts to have stunted growth and stops giving out new foliage, it is vital to check the roots.
Also read: What Kind Of Pot For Croton? (Pot Size, Material & More)
What happens when you plant your croton in the wrong pot?
Once you find out that you need to repot your croton, the first thing is to find the correct sized pot for your plant.
Choosing the correct pot size is crucial for the healthy growth of the croton.
You must ensure that the pot is neither too small nor too big for the croton as it can pose a problem for the plant.
Choosing a too-small pot for the croton can suffocate the roots.
The roots will not get enough space to spread in a smaller pot, affecting the growth of the croton.
The roots would get packed in without breathing space, and the water absorption capacity would reduce because the water would quickly flow out of the drainage holes.
With less soil available in the pot, the croton will also face nutrient deficiency. This would slow down the growth rate of the plant.
The plant pot may also fall over because of the extra weight and visually look out of proportion.
The plant would also dry out too quickly due to the lack of soil.
Similarly, if you choose a too big pot for the croton, it will affect the plant’s growth and cause severe harm to it.
An extra-large plant pot can hold more soil than what the plant needs, which would hold extra water.
It will take a long period for the soil to get dry, leading to the growth of mold, root rot, and other diseases.
Another crucial point to remember is choosing pots with drainage holes only.
If you plant your croton in pots without drainage, the excess water will not drain away, and the risk of root rotting will increase.
So what exactly is the right size pot for your croton?
The best pot size is 2 inches larger than your current pot.
The pot should allow the roots to spread and grow and, at the same time, drain the extra water after absorbing the required amount of water.
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How to save a root-bound croton?
When your croton is root-bound, you must do a few things to save your plant.
- Firstly trim the roots that come out of the drainage hole.
- Then carefully take out the plant from the pot.
- If the plant becomes potbound and the roots stick to the pot, just turn the pot upside down and hit the pot lightly at the base, and it will come off.
- After taking out the croton, the roots need to be shaken off a little by loosening them to help them spread quickly.
- Separate the roots from the root ball and help them spread.
- Prepare healthy soil by putting in compost and perlite to make the soil fertile, light, and well-draining.
- In a new bigger pot no big than 2-4 inches, fill in new soil. Fill the new pot with 2 inches of the soil, gently put the croton in it, and fill the pot with fresh soil.
- Once complete, water the plant slowly until it runs out of the drainage holes.
- Keep the plant in a bright spot.
The croton might go into shock for some days due to the change in its soil and pot, but give it time and patience, and it will start growing happily again.
Another way to save your root-bound croton is to prune the roots.
If you don’t want bigger croton and want to keep your croton in the same pot, you can prune its roots and plant it back in the pot.
Though root pruning sounds like an intimidating job, it is not one.
- You have to remove the plant from the pot and examine the root system.
- Loosen them up.
- Start cutting away the large and the small scattered roots.
- Loosen the root ball again and repot the croton in the existing pot.
Sufficient fresh soil should be added so that the smaller root ball gets all the required nutrients.
Another way to save your root-bound croton is to propagate them.
If you prune the roots and keep the plant in the same planter, you can also prune some branches and use those for propagation.
So for this:
- Cut a stem of your croton with at least three leaves on it remove the bottom leaves, creating a wound on the plant that would lead to its new leaf growth.
- Then pot this stem in a lightweight potting mix consisting of soil, cocopeat, and compost.
- You can cover this with a plastic bag to block the moisture, creating a greenhouse effect and helping in its growth.
- Keep the pot in a sunny location.
- Wait for the roots to grow.
Also read: What Kind Of Soil Does A Croton Need? (+Ideal Soil Mix & Requirements)
From the above discussion, you can comprehend that you need not be worried if you find your croton root-bound. Rootbound does not always mean that your plant will not survive.
If you find that your favorite croton is root-bound with roots coming out of the pot, check the root system. You can repot the plant it a bigger pot or prune the roots and branches and propagate the healthy branches to get new crotons.
Avoid stressing your croton by keeping it in the root-bound state for too long. With proper attention and care, you can revive your root-bound croton.
Reference: Sciencedirect, Wikipedia, Wikipedia, Britannica, CABI, Academia, University of South Florida, The University of Georgia.
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