University of Maryland Extension

Pot Bound Houseplants

pot bound plant

  • Plants that have been grown for a long period of time in the same pot with roots encircling the pot perimeter are often referred to as pot bound.
  • Pot bound plants have tight masses of roots that often fill the pot and sometimes come out of the pot over the edge.
  • Often when watering a pot bound plant the water passes through the pot too quickly and isn't absorbed adequately so that the center of the root ball remains dry.


Plants that are pot bound will often show symptoms of desiccation or lack of water because of the mass of impenetrable roots. Leaves and stems will show tip dieback or marginal necrosis as a result of the lack of water.


Pot bound plants should be repotted into larger pots and the tight root mass should be loosened by hand or cut away to allow the roots to spread as they grow.

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