Although it is best explained when we say that no plant likes to be root-bound, we can still say that peperomia plants can enjoy a root-bound existence to a certain extent. A plant becomes root-bound when its roots overgrow the pot and don’t have space inside the pot for enough growth and proper functioning. But do peperomia like to be root bound? Let’s find out.
Peperomia does not like to be root bound because it can lead to stunted growth of the plant. Peperomia has a shallow root system due to which the plant doesn’t require frequent repotting. However, if the plant outgrows its current pot, it can become root-bound, and you need to repot the plant.
However, with a root-bound plant comes the problem of slow growth. If the roots don’t have enough space for growth inside the pot, the plant will not grow to its optimum level.
We do suggest that you repot your peperomia in a bigger pot if it becomes root-bound. Roots coming out of the drainage holes are a sign that your peperomia is root-bound.
If you don’t want to repot your peperomia and want to keep it in the same pot, trim the roots so that it fits the current pot.
This article will explain all your questions regarding a root-bound peperomia plant and how you can deal with this issue. Let’s dive right into it.
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Do peperomia plants like to be root-bound?
Peperomia plants can grow even if it is root-bounded. Peperomia is a slow-growing plant with a shallow root system that takes a long time to become root-bound.
Peperomia plants originate from the rainforests of South America and can also be found in Mexico and the Caribbean. These plants can grow freely in their natural habitat without any restrictions.
However, as houseplants, they have limited space, and the roots become root-bound after being potted in the same pot for some time.
Although peperomia enjoys being root-bound, you must not keep it in that condition for an extended period as the roots will fail to absorb nutrients or water from the soil and will get clustered.
The roots even start displacing the soil inside the pot if they are root-bound for a long time.
Therefore, you must consider repotting your peperomia plant in a larger pot if it is root-bound. Repotting in a large pot will provide adequate space for growth.
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How to tell if the peperomia is root-bound?
Check out some signs that can tell you if your peperomia is root-bound:
- Stunted growth
- Droopy leaves
- Slow growth
- Brown tips on leaves
- Roots form a bundle inside the pot
- Pots cracking and expanding
- Roots coming out of the drainage holes
- The soil dries out fast
- The plant falls on sides
Peperomia doesn’t become root-bound fast, but if you plant it in a small pot, the plant will become root-bound faster than it would otherwise.
One or more of the above-mentioned signs indicate that your peperomia is root-bound. Now you must not neglect the plant and keep it in this state. You must find out a way to fix this issue.
One of the easiest ways of getting rid of a root-bound peperomia plant is to repot it.
A root-bound peperomia will have long roots that are large in number that will fill up the pot, and there will be no space for further growth inside the pot. Due to this, you will come across slower growth in your peperomia plant.
How do you fix a root-bound peperomia?
Let’s check out how you can fix your root-bound peperomia.
Repot my peperomia
If you have a root-bound peperomia plant, you can fix it with repotting. You can have a successful repotting if you select the right sized pot.
Before you repot your peperomia, make sure to select a pot that is larger than the current one. Do not go for a pot that is too big as that will hold more water than required.
While selecting the pot, choose one that is one size bigger than the current pot or the root ball of the plant. One size bigger indicates that the pot should be 2-3 inches bigger.
We would also recommend going for a terracotta pot as that would be the best choice for your peperomia due to its porous nature. You can also go for clay or ceramic pots but try not to select a plastic pot.
After selecting a new pot, you need to repot your peperomia with the help of the following steps.
Prepare a fresh soil mix
You must prepare a new soil mix before you start repotting the peperomia. Yes, you can use the old soil mix, but it would be better to prepare a fresh soil mix as that will add more nutrients to the plant and not carry any harmful bacteria or fungi from any previous infections.
You can prepare a rich and well-draining soil mix as that is what peperomia plants prefer.
Take the peperomia out of the pot
Carefully take the plant out of the pot as you would not want to cause any damage to your peperomia.
Hold the main stem of the plant and take it out of the pot. If you face difficulty taking the plant out, you can run a knife along the edges of the pot to loosen up the soil.
We recommend watering your peperomia thoroughly one day before you repot it. This will make the soil moist that will come out quickly the next day.
Clean the roots
Try to get as much soil out of the roots as possible. It is best to get rid of the old soil as you will be repotting your peperomia in a fresh soil mix.
You can carry your plant to the sink, place the roots under running water, and clean the root ball properly.
Or, you can place the roots of your peperomia inside a bucket of water for a while and allow the soil to get washed away from the roots.
Prune the damaged and dead parts
You might come across damaged roots when you consider repotting your peperomia. You must not forget to prune these along with the damaged and dead stems and leaves.
Since we are talking about a root-bound peperomia, you will find long roots that you will need to prune before repotting the plant in the pot.
Pruning will also boost new growth for your peperomia.
Add soil to the new pot and repot the peperomia
Add the freshly prepared soil to the new pot you selected. Fill 1/3rd of the pot with the soil and place the peperomia inside it. Add soil from the sides so that there are no air pockets in the soil.
Hold the plant upright while adding soil to the sides. Tap the pot on the sides to make sure that the soil settles in.
Water the peperomia
After you are done with the repotting, water your peperomia plant so that it won’t get too stressed.
When to repot my peperomia?
Peperomia should be repotted whenever it is root-bound. It will help if you do not let the peperomia remain root-bound for too long, as that can affect the health and growth of the peperomia.
As a rule of thumb, all houseplants should be repotted once every two to three years. This prevents or saves a root-bound plant and gives the plant a boost of growth through the fresh potting mix.
The best time to repot your peperomia plant is during the spring season. This is when it is actively growing and will adjust to the changes without much stress.
You must not repot your peperomia plant in winter as the cold temperature and harsh weather conditions can have adverse effects and can damage the plant.
Peperomia plants like to remain slightly root-bound, so you can select a pot that fits the root balls.
Best soil and pot for repotting peperomia
A lot of stress is given to the size of the pot as that can have many effects on the peperomia plant.
If you have a root-bound peperomia plant, you can use a larger-sized pot so that the roots don’t get root-bound quickly again.
However, since peperomia prefers to remain tightly potted, try to get a size that fits its root balls properly.
Never choose a pot that is too large for your plant, as that can cause overwatering. A large pot will generally retain more water.
Another problem with an overlarge pot is that the roots will have a lot of space for growth. Your peperomia will naturally focus more on root growth than growing stems or foliage.
If we talk about the material, we have mentioned earlier in this article that you should go for materials such as terracotta, ceramic, or clay instead of plastic as plastic is not porous and will not support proper airflow.
Make sure that your pot has drainage holes to drain the excess water out of the system.
Now, let’s understand the soil requirements of the peperomia plant.
Peperomia prefers a light and rich soil mix that provides nutrients to the plant and supports proper drainage and aeration in the roots.
You can prepare a well-draining soil mix for your peperomia by adding coco coir, sand, or perlite.
You can add orchid bark as epiphytes love orchid bark. And many peperomia species are epiphytes.
You can create a well-draining healthy soil mix by adding half part potting soil, half part coco coir, half part potting soil, and half part orchid bark.
The pH level of the soil for peperomia should remain between 6 to 6.6.
The soil should be light so that air can flow inside and out of the soil for the excellent health of the roots.
To give you a recap, peperomia likes to remain slightly root-bound, but you should not let it remain root-bound for an extended period as that would lead to slow growth in these plants.
Like all houseplants, you should repot your peperomia every 2-3 years to prevent it from becoming root-bound and rejuvenate it with fresh soil mix. Peperomia has a shallow root system and can take even longer to become root-bound.
In case you have a root-bound peperomia, you must repot it after pruning the damaged and dead parts. You should use an appropriate soil mix and a bigger pot. However, it is best to choose a pot that can tightly fit the root balls as peperomia prefers.
Ref: University of Florida, Sage Journal, University of Vermont, New Jersey Agricultural Experiment Station
Rutgers, The University of Arkansas, Britannica, Wikipedia, Peperomia Diseases, NC State University.