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Does A Money Tree Like To Be Root Bound? (+When To Repot)

The money tree (Pachira Aquatica) is a popular houseplant that can grow up to 6 to 8 feet in the house. However, if you notice slow growth in the plant, then it might be root bound. But, does the money tree like to be root bound? Let’s find out.

Money tree doesn’t like to be root bound. Rootbound is a condition where the roots of your money tree have no more space to grow and expand. It usually leads to stunted growth, droopy leaves, and lack of nutrient and oxygen supply to the roots leading to various issues in a money tree.

The money tree will require repotting every two to three years. The money trees can grow up to 60 feet in their natural habitat, but they don’t grow so tall as houseplants.

The root system of the money tree is smaller than many other plants, so it doesn’t get root bound very fast.

We have covered all the details regarding a root-bound money tree. Let’s understand how you can identify a root-bound plant and the next steps that you need to take.


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Do money trees like to be in small pots?

The money trees don’t like to be in small pots because it restricts their growth. However, money trees do have a smaller root system, so they don’t need a large pot as many other indoor plants.

When a plant is root-bound, it is usually planted in a small container, and its roots don’t have enough space for growth. The roots even fail to perform their regular functions, making the plant weak and causing stunted growth.

As the plant grows, its roots will also develop and expand. For this, space is required in the pot. When the roots don’t have enough room for growth, they become tangled and displace all the soil from the pot.

If the roots remain constrained for a prolonged period, they will start forming clusters and become brown. This will cause root rot.

When the soil starts getting displaced, the plant doesn’t get enough nutrition or water. The pot fails to hold the nutrition as it passes along with water to the drainage system. This leads to dehydration in the plant.

You can cure this by repotting the plant to a larger pot. If you don’t do this, your plant will not survive due to a lack of nutrients.

If you can identify the early signs, you can save your plant before any disaster takes place.

How do I know if my money tree is root-bound?

It might be challenging to understand if your money tree is root-bound. However, we can help you to figure it out.

First of all, you need to check your plant closely to determine if it is giving out any signs. Noticing the symptoms during the early stages can help you fix your plant on time.

Second, if you notice any sign and doubt the plant is root-bound, you need to take it out of its container and examine the roots. If you see a cluster of the roots, you have a root-bound plant.

The signs that will tell you if your money tree is root-bound or not are:

  • The roots will come out of the drainage holes.
  • The pot might start cracking due to the pressure of the roots.
  • The growth of the plant might slow down or stop.
  • The roots will begin displacing the soil.
  • There will be a decrease in the amount of soil in the pot.
  • Leaves may turn brown.
  • The leaves will start drooping and curling.
  • The plant will become dry due to a lack of water and nutrition. 

Now let’s understand the different stages of a root-bound plant. Knowledge of this will help you to take the actions depending on which stage your plant is in.

In the first stage, the roots begin to wrap around one another. When your plant is at this stage, you can fix it easily. But if you keep ignoring it, the issue might get worse. However, you can even take a year to shift your plant to a bigger pot at this stage.

In the second stage, the roots form mats around the root ball. It can get more complicated than the first stage, but you can still fix it by shifting the plant to the larger pot at the right time.

In the third stage, the roots start displacing the soil and form clusters. If you don’t give immediate attention and delay repotting the plant, you might not be able to save it.



How do you know when to repot a money tree?

Although a money tree grows up to 60 feet in its native land, it will grow 6 to 8 feet long inside the house.

The growth rate of the money tree can range from slow to medium, and it does not grow very fast. The root system of the money tree is smaller than many other plants, and that is why it can take time for the money tree to get root-bound.

However, it is best to repot the money tree every 2 to 3 years.

Even if your plant is not root-bound, repotting after every two or three years helps the plant gain all the lost nutrients as the soil loses nutrition and becomes acidic over time.

Summer and spring season is ideal for repotting your money tree. You should avoid repotting during winters as that is the dormant period for the plant. Repotting during winter can cause stress to your money tree.

Best soil and pot for money tree

Keeping your money tree in a pot that is too small will make it root-bound. Whereas keeping it in a larger pot will retain excess water and cause root rot.

If you use a small pot for your money tree, you will face issues such as:

Stress – You will notice that your money tree is stressed if it’s living in a small pot. The money tree will feel constricted in a small pot, due to which it will suffer from stress.

Soil reduction – You will notice that the amount of soil has reduced if you take the plant out of the pot. This happens because the roots don’t have enough space to grow, so they displace the soil to make space for themselves. Soil reduction can lead to various problems such as lack of nutrition.

Dehydration – Due to a reduction of soil, the remaining soil will not hold the required water. This will make the money tree dehydrated. The plant will have curled leaves, which is a sign of dehydration.

In case the pot is too large for your money tree, the problem can be:

Overwatering – You might not be overwatering your plant. But keeping it in a large pot is as good as overwatering it. A large pot holds too much water and keeps the roots wet for long.

Root rot – When the pot retains too much water, the roots will remain wet for an extended period and be prone to root rot. It is a serious problem in plants and can cause severe damage.

Pest infestation – A large pot creates a similar environment to overwatering. This is ideal for pests and can also cause fungal or bacterial infections.

Whenever choosing a pot for repotting your money tree, you need to go one size up than the previous pot. The pot should be at least 2″ larger than the plant’s size.

Along with the size of the pot, you need to take care of the drainage system. You can either choose a pot that has drainage holes or make the drainage holes yourself before placing the plant in it.

In the case of the material, it’s better to use clay, ceramic, terracotta pots instead of plastic ones. This will allow good airflow inside the soil and roots.

Let’s talk about which soil is best for your money tree.

The money tree does not enjoy sitting in the water for a prolonged period. Therefore, it requires soil that supports well drainage.

After you water the money tree, the soil should retain the required amount of water and drain the excess water out of the pot.

You can choose a sand-based soil that will let the excess water out of a system. You can purchase any succulent or cactus mix available in the market and add peat and perlite to it to make it well-draining.

How to save a root-bound money tree?

You can fix a root-bound money tree by:

  • Repotting the plant
  • Pruning the extra roots

Let’s take a look at these methods.

Repotting money tree

You can repot your money tree during the growing season, which is summer and spring. You read the correct sized container and well-draining soil before you can proceed with this.

After taking the money tree out of its pot, you need to get rid of the damaged roots and prune all the damaged leaves or stems of the plant.

Add the fresh soil mix to the pot and place the money tree at the center. At some soil in the container from all sides to help the plants settle in.

Pruning the extra roots

You can fix a root-bound plant without having to repot it. You can do it by pruning the roots that have formed a cluster but avoid damaging the primary roots.

You can also prune the roots that it has become unhealthy.

Once you trim the old roots, the plant will have more space and energy for new growth. Other than focusing its energy to recover the damaged roots, it will concentrate on new development.


If you are looking to buy a lot of houseplants to brighten up your space and that too on a budget, try out Cellardoorplants. They offer a wide variety of plants, delivered right to your doorstep, and that too for every budget. If you haven't checked them yet, Try them now!


Final words

You should not let the money tree remain root-bound for too long as it can lead to stunted growth in your plant. It can also cause other problems that we have discussed in the article.

Therefore, you should always check your plant every two to three years and consider repotting it whenever required.

Repotting the money tree will keep it healthy and allow new and healthy growth in the plant.

If you notice any signs that tell you that you have a root-bound plant, repot it to avoid problematic situations.


Reference: NYBG, WIKIPEDIA, CABI, Missouri Botanical Garden, Effect of light intensity on plant growth.