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Do Philodendron Like To Be Root Bound? (+When To Repot)

It might be a difficult task to determine when your philodendron requires repotting, especially if you are a beginner. Some plants do well in small pots, while some do well in larger ones. However, if you stop noticing any growth in your philodendron, the reason can be that the plant is pot-bound. But do philodendron like to be root bound? Let’s find that out.

Philodendron doesn’t like to be root bound as it restricts the growth of the plant. A pot-bound plant will have droopy leaves and a lack of water and nutrients that will increase the chances of root rot and fungal infections. Consider repotting your philodendron every 2-3 years to keep them thriving.

If you want to keep your philodendron in the same pot, you can prune the roots and the foliage so that the plant’s size will suit the pot. However, if you want to grow a bigger plant, you should get a bigger pot that won’t cause any growth blockage.

Now that you know that you need to repot your philodendron when it is pot bound let’s find out the ways of understanding that you have a pot-bound philodendron and the steps you need to take after finding that out.


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Do philodendrons like to be pot bound?

Philodendrons can adjust to different cultural conditions, and being pot bound is one of them. The philodendrons can tolerate being pot-bound but whether they like it or not is a different question.

To answer the question, philodendrons don’t like to be pot-bound, just like any other plant.

Philodendrons don’t face this issue while growing in the native lands as they get ample space where their roots can spread wide and grow freely. They get enough nutrients and water through the roots.

But as houseplants, philodendrons can become pot bound if you keep them in the same pot for too long.

Due to lack of space, the roots start displacing the soil, and the plants don’t get enough water, nutrients, or airflow. This can cause stress, stunted growth, and make the plant weak.

Therefore, a plant can never be happy when it is pot-bound.

How do I know my philodendron is pot bound?

Your philodendron will become pot-bound when it reaches the state where it has no space for growth inside the pot. Some signs that can tell that you have a pot-bound philodendron are:

  • Stunted growth
  • Roots coming out of the drainage holes
  • Droopy leaves
  • Yellow or brown leaves
  • Pot starts expanding or breaks due to pressure
  • Roots start showing on top of the soil
  • Roots spiraling at the bottom

If you notice any of these signs, you need to take steps to fix the issue, or else the leaves will start wilting.

Some other issues that you might notice are that the top layers of the soil will dry fast and become flaky, and you will notice cracks on the soil’s surface. All these issues signify that you have a pot-bound philodendron.

All these problems occur due to one main reason, which is a small-sized pot.

If you have potted your philodendron in a small pot or if the plant has outgrown its current pot, it will become pot-bound.

The roots get tightly packed in a small container, creating an unhealthy condition for the roots, soil, and the plant. You need to fix this as soon as possible to see proper growth in your philodendron.



What to do with pot bound philodendron?

Once you have identified that your philodendron is pot-bound, you need to take some action to fix this, or else your plant will get weaker by the days.

You can fix a pot-bound philodendron in two ways.

  1. Repot your philodendron
  2. Divide your philodendron

Before discussing more of these, you must remember to be careful while handling the philodendron because of its toxicity.

Philodendrons contain calcium oxalate that is harmful and can cause skin irritation. The plant’s sap contains this toxic compound, and when you prune any part of the plant, the sap gets released.

This compound is also harmful to pets, so you should keep them away from your philodendron.

Either wash your hands thoroughly after handling the philodendron or wear gloves to protect your skin.

With that being said, let’s get into the process.

Repotting your philodendron plant

Heartleaf Philodendron Repotting

If you have a pot-bound philodendron, the easiest solution is to move it to a larger pot where it can grow freely.

Repotting in a larger pot will allow more space for the roots and plant to grow and also let the plant remain healthy. There will be proper airflow between the roots, so there will be no lack of oxygen.

Repotting in a fresh soil mix will provide more nutrients to the philodendron that will boost the plant’s growth.

If you wonder which size would be ideal for repotting, consider getting a bigger pot than the previous one.

Choose a pot that is 2-3″ bigger in diameter than the current container of your philodendron.

If you choose a bigger pot than this, there can be overwatering as the pot will hold more water, and the soil will take more time to dry.

Choose peat-based soil that is well-draining and will let the excess water drain out of the pot’s drainage holes.

After choosing the pot and the soil, it is time for you to repot the philodendron.

Now, let’s look at all the steps of repotting your philodendron:

  1. Slowly and gently take the plant out of its current pot.
  2. Water the plant thoroughly the previous day to make sure that the plant comes out of the pot without an issue.
  3. If the plant still doesn’t come out, use a knife and run it along the edges of the pot to loosen the soil.
  4. Once the plant is out, wash the roots carefully to get rid of as much soil as possible.
  5. Prune the damaged roots that look soft and brown.
  6. Fill the pot with fresh soil mix.
  7. Put the philodendron in the middle and fill the sides with soil till the pot is full. Keep some space of one or two inches on top of the pot.
  8. Give the plant a good soak and place it in indirect light.

Dividing your philodendron plant

If you don’t want to keep your philodendron in a larger pot, you can divide the plant and use the same pot. However, you will still need another pot as you will get another plant after dividing your philodendron.

Here is how you can divide your philodendron.

  1. Take the philodendron out of its current pot very carefully.
  2. Use sterilized scissors to cut the roots and stems.
  3. Separate the roots and prepare another pot with fresh soil mix.
  4. Place the plants in two separate containers.
  5. Prune some branches and leaves before planting the philodendron.
  6. Plant the philodendrons in the containers, fill them with soil and keep the top one or two inches remaining empty for watering.
  7. Water the philodendrons after this to reduce the stress.

When should I repot my philodendron?

You should repot your philodendron every 2-3 years even when there is no issue with it. The soil loses its ability to hold nutrients in 2-3 years and becomes more acidic. Repotting gives the plant fresh soil that contains more nutrients which is good for the plant’s health and growth.

If you don’t repot your philodendron, its growth will slow down and the plant will become pot-bound and stressed.

Therefore, whenever you notice that the philodendron has outgrown its current pot, consider repotting it in a larger pot.

The best time to repot your philodendron is in summer or spring. The philodendron becomes dormant in the winter months and repotting during this time can shock the plant.

You might not see any growth in your philodendron after repotting winter. So it is best to repot in the growing season.

Best soil and container for repotting philodendron

You need to get the right-sized container for repotting your philodendron. The ideal pot would be 2-3” bigger than the current pot.

If your philodendron is planted in a 4” container, you should move it to a 6” container. Avoid moving it to a 10” container as that would be too big and not be very good for its health.

When choosing the right soil mix, get well-draining soil. However, it should retain the required nutrients and moisture that the plant can absorb.

You can create a potting soil by mixing:

This mix will make the potting soil well-draining and will allow good aeration around the soil. 

Also read: What Type Of Soil Does A Philodendron Need? (Best Soil Mix)


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 thoughts

You should never keep your philodendron pot-bound. If you notice any visual signs, take the plant out of its pot and check the roots and soil.

Repot the plant in a bigger pot with well-draining soil so that the roots don’t stay restricted and can grow freely.

If you don’t want to repot your philodendron, prune the long roots and the long stems, and plant it in the same pot.


Ref: Evaluation of Different Species of Philodendron Under Indoor Conditions, University of Florida, University of Vermont, ScienceDirect, Academia, Wikipedia, Britannica.