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What Happens If You Put A Plant in A Pot Too Big?

The pot’s size is of great concern when we choose to repot the plant in a pot. The size of the pot is directly related to the growth factor of a plant. Considering the fact stated above, we have seen that if a plant is kept in a too-small pot, its growth might be stunted. But what happens if you put a plant in a pot too big?

If you put a plant in a pot too big, you shall encounter some significant growth problems. The plant will not be able to absorb appropriate nutrients from the soil. The soil will also hold a lot of water, which can lead to root rot and other pest problems in the plants. The pot size must be following the plant.

In the same way, if we choose a pot bigger in size that is required, the plant might grow very fast, which is also a danger to the plant.

A smaller plant means the nutrients will be absorbed quickly in the soil and a bigger pot indicates that the plant will not absorb the nutrients in time.

This causes the plant to droop, and the leaves will turn yellow and shed off its leaves.

Let us go through this guide, where we will tell you about the ideal size of the pots required by the plants and the issues that arise with the incorrect size.


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Does the size of a pot affect plant growth?

Yes, the size of the pot is of great concern when considering the growth of the plant.

When the pot’s size is too small, the nutrients present in the soil will be absorbed quickly by the plant. There will be other issues, such as the roots being rootbound with the pot, and there will be fewer nutrients required for the plant’s survival.

Smaller pots have shown a difference in fruit and flower-bearing. Because of fewer nutrients being absorbed, we have also noticed fewer fruits on a plant.

There were fruits on the plants in some instances, but smaller in size than the usual plants, when grown in perfect condition.

Similarly, when the pot’s size is bigger than the required size, the plants will find it difficult to take up the nutrients from the soil.

However, in a bigger pot, we have noticed that the plants tend to grow bigger than expected.

The chances are that the plant might droop, and we can see the color of the leaves turning yellow and falling off the plant.

Also read: Why Do My Houseplants Keep Dying? (13 Common Problems)

Will plants grow bigger in bigger pots?

The answer to this question is yes and also a no. I will tell the reason behind this scenario.

It totally depends upon the species of the plant you choose. Different species have different care requirements, and each of them acts differently in a particular situation.

It could be that the plant we are talking about is an indoor plant or an outdoor plant. It could very well be a vegetable also for that matter.

Next is whether the plant we are talking about is a succulent, or medium, or tender. This decides the water intake of the plant.

Too big a pot means that there will be more water available in the pot and the soil will remain moist for a more extended period. This can also cause root rot.

It depends on whether our plant is supposed to grow bigger. If we get a vegetable, then we expect the plant to grow more prominent, and hence repotting in a bigger pot will show growth.

Similarly, if we have a particular type of indoor foliage that does not grow a lot, then repotting such a plant in a bigger pot will only bring root rot problems and fungal/bacterial diseases.

The growth of the plant is naturally dependent on the development of the roots. When we keep the plant in a pot, firstly, the plant will develop its roots.

Once the root growth is sufficient, then the plant will grow on the upper portion, which is the stems, the flowers, and the leaves.

We often see that if the plant is kept in a smaller pot, the root becomes pot bound and does not have any space left for growth. That is when we repot the plant to a bigger pot.

When repotted to a bigger pot, the root system will develop in a bigger pot and try to cover the soil mass. If all the factors are kept in good health, such as as-light, nutrients, soil, and water, the plant will grow bigger.

It is not because of repotting into a bigger pot that we see the plant growing bigger, but when the roots have developed enough in a smaller pot, it will develop faster in a bigger pot.

Ultimately, we will see the plant growing bigger in a bigger pot if the roots have developed well, and all the factors are provided accordingly.

Also read: How To Make House Plants Grow Faster? (Crucial Factors+9 Secret Tip)

Do plants grow quickly in large pots?

Rubber plant

No, the plants do not grow faster in large pots. The plants grow at a constant speed when we provide the right amount of nutrients, soil, water, and light.

The plant will first try to become rootbound in a smaller pot and then continue its growth in the plant’s upper portion.

The roots occupy the soil mass with the growth and have to be taken care of. Larger pots mean more water, and more is the chance of root rot.

When we repot the plant to a bigger pot, roots must be taken care of while untangling and repotting. If the roots are damaged during the process, we might not see any growth at all.

Once repotted to a bigger pot also, we will see the development of the roots in the new pot as the plants apply its energy in the growth of the roots.

The roots will try to go rootbound in the bigger pot and then continue its growth on the upper portion. The plant will grow at the same speed; it was growing in the smaller pot.

The only way to make the plants grow faster is by improving its care requirements-water, fertilizer, soil, and light requirements.

If all the above is well maintained, we can make the plant grow bigger and not faster.



How big should a pot be for a plant?

All the pots available for a plant comes in a standard size, and there is a technique to get this right.

We have already discussed what happens when we choose a bigger pot than the plant and choose a smaller pot.

The ideal method is to choose a pot that is one size bigger than the plant’s size.

For example, we have a 7-inch plant, and we transfer it to a 4-gallon pot. This is way too big for the plant.

It is like we have brought shoes for our child, which is bigger than the required size.

For a 7-inch plant, we first pot it in a 1-gallon pot and allow it to achieve the height of 1 foot, which is when we transfer it to a 2-gallon pot.

Once the plant has reached the height of 2-feet, we will transfer it to a 3-gallon pot and so on. Hence, we always choose one size bigger when we repot the plant.

Can a small pot kill a plant?

Yes, the small pots and no transplanting can kill a plant.

Now we know that the plants grow their roots first and then the upper portion. When the roots have outgrown the pot, we will be able to notice the roots.

The roots will emerge out of the drainage holes and become rootbound. We will also notice signs of no further growth in the plant. The plant will require water often and will dry out quickly.

These are some signs that tell you we need a repot to a bigger plant. We can go for a few days or weeks without the repot.

However, this will only cause stress to the plant. The last sign that the plant gives out will be the leaves turning yellow.

When we see the leaves turning yellow, do not be late in transplanting the plant to a bigger pot.

The plant might give up on you if left without care. Pruning the roots of the plant is one method to keep the plant in the same pot. However, it is wise to move them into a bigger pot.

What happens if a pot is too big for a plant?

leggy rubber plant

We are already aware of some of the problems that the plant might face with bigger pots. As stated, it is like buying shoes or clothes for your child.

Would you choose bigger shoes for your child when considering a purchase? No, we don’t do that. So why in the case of our plants?

Let us get into some of the problems that the plant faces when repotted in a bigger pot.

Rooting problems

The most common issue after the overwatering of plants is the rooting problems.

In some cases, the problem arises during the process of transplanting. It could be that the roots are not untangled in the right way, or we might have caused damage to the roots.

A study found out that the plant grows about 43% bigger in larger pots.

Also, the factor stated for the smaller pots was that the plants do not determine the pot’s size with the water and nutrients requirements but by the roots.

There is a high chance of the roots developing a root rot because the soil retains more water.

Stunted growth

Slow growth is another issue that arises from a bigger pot.

A bigger pot means that the plant will take time to pull up the nutrients absorbed in the soil. Lack of nutrients causes stunted growth in the plant.

We also see stunted growth as a result of underwatering or overwatering the plants.

When repotted in a bigger pot, there is a high chance of the plant being overwatered, resulting in stunted growth.

Another issue arises from the overwatering is generally a root rot, and if not a root rot, there is a chance that the plant will invite fungus and bacteria.

Stunted growth can also occur if there are any insects or bugs in the roots.

Overwatering problems

The most common issue with repotting a plant in bigger pots is watering problems. When we choose a bigger pot, we have to add more water to the soil to keep it moist.

Now, what generally happens is that the roots, as it is in the growing stage, we tend to add excess water, and the root stays wet all the time.

This is the primary cause of a root rot problem with bigger pots.
The roots do not get a chance to draw the right amount of nutrients from the soil, and the soil remains moist most of the time.

The plant suffers a stunted growth, and the roots are damaged. This will cause the plant to droop, and the leaves’ color will turn yellow, and it may start drooping as well.

Overwatering can also kill the roots and the plant. So, try to avoid it altogether.

Also read: Overwatering vs Underwatering

Pest problems

The overwatered pot gives an invitation to the pests and harms the roots of the plant.

With high chances of root rot, there is also a high chance that the plant’s roots will attract pests and harm the plant further.

How do I choose the right size pot for my plant?

Now, we know the pot’s ideal size while choosing to repot the plant and why the perfect size is of utmost importance.

For the right size of the pot, we need to make sure that the size of the pot is one step bigger than the size of the plant.

For example, for the 8-inch height of a plant, we will consider a 1-gallon pot and allow it to grow until it reaches 1-foot in height.

When the plant achieves 1-foot, we repot the plant to a 2-gallon pot and so on.

Thus, we need to maintain the one step bigger size of the pot. This ensures that the plant takes up the right amount of water and nutrients from the soil.

That being said, we need to make sure that the pot has drainage holes to remove excess water.


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When should you repot a plant?

Repotting the plant at the right time is also very important for the plant. We do not want any stunted growth in the plants.

Certain signs will tell us that the plant needs a repot.
We will not see any further growth in our plant. This is the first sign.

Another thing to notice is the root system.

Are the roots emerging out of the drainage holes? If the answer to this question is yes, then the roots have mostly been pot-bound and want a repot.

We do not want the roots to be pot-bound for a more extended period. If we leave the situation as it is, we will shock the plant.

The leaves’ color will change to yellow, and we will notice the shedding of the leaves from the plants.

If neglected further, we might lose the plant, and the plant might give up on us.

Lastly, repotting in the growing season is very important for constant growth. I have always chosen to repot during the spring and the summer season, unless necessary.

If we repot the plant during the winters, the plant will suffer through a shock as winters are not the growing season and have difficulties.

Try to repot during the growing season, unless required by the plant.
Let us know if you have any further queries regarding the size of the pot.

Also read: How Do I Know If My Plant Needs Repotting? (Signs & How to Do)


Sources: Pot size matters, Society for Experimental Biology, The Effect Of Container Size, Effects of Plant Growth Retardants and Pot Sizes on Plants, Pot size matters.