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Is My Pothos Root Bound? (How To Know+What To Do)

It can be challenging to know if it is the right time to repot your pothos or not. While some plants need a larger pot, others do well in smaller pots as well. However, if your pothos is not doing well or have really slow growth, then it is evident for a plant owner to wonder if their pothos is root-bound and what they can do about it. So, let’s find out!

Pothos doesn’t like to be root bound. A root-bounded pothos will have slower growth, droopy leaves, and a lack of oxygen and water supply for the plants to thrive. It also increases the risk of root rot and fungus. Thus, it is ideal to repot your pothos every two years in a pot that is one size larger than the previous one.

While some owners like to trim back the foliage and the roots of their pothos to keep them in the same pot, it is ideal to move them every two years into a larger pot so that they can grow bushy and healthy.

So, you already know you need to repot your pothos if they are root bound, but how will you come to know about it? What are the steps you need to take? Let’s learn all about it.


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Do pothos plants like to be root bound?

No pothos doesn’t like to be root bound. In fact, No plant wants to be root bound.

In nature, plants grow in the ground where they have enough space to expand their roots and absorb food and nutrients.

However, when confined in a small space like a container, they are dependent upon the limited availability of resources out there.

When a plant gets root bound, it means their roots have grown larger than what their current container can hold.

They don’t have any space further to grow and expand their roots.

The roots have already displaced the soil, which means the plants don’t have access to nutrients, water, and air. This can lead to stress in the pothos plant and stop them from growing further.

Also read: How fast do pothos grow?

How do I know if my pothos is root bound?

If your pothos has reached the point where they have no more space to expand, then your plant will start giving out some visual signs. These signs include:

  • Roots coming out of the drainage holes
  • Roots spiraling at the bottom
  • Stunted growth
  • Yellow and brown leaves
  • Droopy leaves
  • Roots start showing from the top of the soil
  • Pot starts expanding or breaking down

If you don’t take appropriate action at this step, your pothos may start wilting.

The topsoil may dry up quickly, and the surface will begin getting flaky, and cracks may develop in there. All these signs may indicate your plants are root bounded.

The leading cause of a root-bound plant is an inappropriate size container for the size of the plant.

Either you have chosen an incorrect size pot, or the plant has outgrown the current size pot.

In either case, if your pothos is root bound, then it means the container is tightly packed with roots, and there is not enough soil that can promote the healthy growth of your plant.

Also read: Why is my pothos dying?



What to do with root bound pothos?

Now, you have already identified that your pothos has become root-bound. 

So, what’s next? If you are in similar circumstances, then you will have two options with you:

  1. Repotting your pothos
  2. Dividing your pothos

However, before we get into the specifics, here is a quick warning about the pothos plant’s toxicity. 

Pothos plant produces a compound known as calcium oxalate. It is present in the plant’s sap, which is released when we clip the leaves or vines of the plant. 

This compound is harmful to pets as well as humans if ingested. For some people, it can lead to skin irritation and an allergic reaction as well. 

Thus, to minimize the risk, we would recommend you wash your hands properly after handling the plant. 

You may also wear a pair of gloves so that the sap doesn’t come in contact with your skin. 

Now with that out of the way, let’s get into the process.

Also read: How to propagate pothos?

Repotting your pothos plant

If your pothos plant is root bound, then the most obvious solution is to move it to a larger pot. 

Moving the pothos plant to a larger pot will provide the plant with more space to expand. The plant can then develop their roots and grow exponentially. 

A larger pot will also allow room for fresh soil, which will provide nutrients needed by the plant to grow bushy and healthy. 

But how large of a pot should you choose? When choosing a container for your pothos, you must never go beyond one size. 

Which means go with a container 2-3″ bigger in diameter than the current one. 

If you move the plant to a larger container than needed, then the problem of root diseases and overwatering will prevail. Thus, choosing the appropriate size pot is crucial.

Once you have chosen the pot and prepared it for transplant, the next step is to move the pothos. Repotting a pothos is easy and straightforward. 

Here are a few simple steps to follow:

  1. Take the plant to a sink or working table and turn the pot upside down.
  2. Loosen the soil and try to remove the plant from the container.
  3. If the plant is not coming out, use a long thin serrated knife to run around the container’s edges to get the plant out.
  4. Get rid of the old soil as much as possible.
  5. Trim any damaged roots
  6. Fill the new container with fresh potting mix up to 1/3 of the pot.
  7. Plant your pothos in there and fill the sides and edges until the container is full. Never top the container till the top. Always keep a space of an inch or two for watering.

Dividing your pothos plant

If you don’t have space for a larger container or due to any other reason you want to keep the plant in the same container, then dividing your pothos would be your best bet. 

Here are the steps you need to take to divide your pothos:

  1. Water your pothos thoroughly starting a day early to loosed up the soil.
  2. Take the plant out of the pot.
  3. Use a sterile knife or clippers to divide the roots and stems.
  4. Separate the roots and plants and prepare to plant them in a new container.
  5. Fill the new container with fresh potting mix up to 1/3 of the pot.
  6. You can dip the plant into rooting hormones(optional) and then replant them into a new pot.
  7. Plant your pothos in there and fill the sides and edges until the container is full. Never top the container till the top. Always keep a space of an inch or two for watering.
  8. Water your pothos after replanting to reduce the stress.

When should I repot my pothos?

It is recommended to repot most houseplants every 2-3 years, and the same rule applies to pothos.

It would help if you did not repot your pothos often as it can slow down the plant’s growth as they spend their energy in dealing with the stress and settling down their roots.

Thus, let the plant settle and grow. Once the plant has outgrown the current pot and there is no more space for it to expand, you may consider moving them to a larger size pot.

Also, the best season to repot your pothos is spring to early summer. As pothos lies in the dormant stage during the winter months, you might not see any new growth until the spring arrives. So, it is best to hold onto the replanting idea until spring.

Also read: Root rot in pothos(All questions answered)

Best soil and container for repotting pothos

As we had discussed earlier, you must choose an appropriate size container for your pothos while replanting.

An ideal choice will be a container 2-3″ larger in diameter than the current one.

For example, if your pothos is in a 6inch container, you must move them to an 8inch container. Never attempt to move them to 10-12″ containers as it can be bad for their health.

If you are looking for an appropriate container for your pothos, you can try any of these planter boxes from ETSY.

Providing appropriate soil to your pothos is extremely important. The soil must be well-draining, but at the same time, it must have the moisture-retaining capacity so that the roots of the plant doesn’t dry out.

You can either buy a potting mix from a nursery or create your own. Either way, here is a blend you must go with:

  • 1 part of garden soil or potting soil
  • 1 part of coconut husk/ cocopeat/ peat moss
  • 1 part of sand/perlite/pumice

This mix will provide appropriate nutrients to your pothos along with aeration and moisture. I personally love this custom potting mix, which you can get on ETSY.

Also read: Do pothos need fertilizer?


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

To conclude, I would like to say that you should never keep a plant root bounded. None of the plants want to be root bound.

Some people suggest that keeping your plants in a tight container will encourage better growth and easier maintenance, but that is far from reality.

The truth is nature never put a constrain on plants, and we shouldn’t either.

Pothos plant can grow massive if provided with the correct size pot, good soil, and a well maintained cultural environment.

Thus, do your part and give good care to your pothos so they can bloom and brighten up your space.


Sources: Common insect pests and diseasesUniversity of Florida Research, Effects of Different Pot Mixtures on PothosPothos water needs study