What to Do With A Root Bound Pothos

Last Updated on December 5, 2022 by Stephanie

Pothos is a tropical plant that are fast growing however their pots arent. Devils ivy isnt a fan of being tied to its roots.

Today, Ill help determine whether your pothos is root-bound and what you can do to fix it.

Roots sprouting out of drainage holes, bulging or cracking containers, leaves that are yellow, the long drooping and constant wiping are all indications of a pothos that is root bound. It is possible to divide or repot the root-bound plant. Repotting involves removing the pot cutting roots, then mixing fresh mix into one size-up pot.

Do Pothos Plants Like To Be Root Bound?

The answer is simple: not. Pothos is an evergreen tropical that is found throughout the year in its home South Pacific islands.

Thus the root ball needs ample breathing space and space to grow.

Wilting and drooping are the most obvious signs that the roots have occupied the pot, and theres no space for growth when leaves are limp regardless of how often or how much water you give them.

Because of the soils poor absorption of water, nutrients, as well as oxygen. A root ball can cause drooping leaves and growth that is stunted, leggy as well as yellowing leaves and overall decline in health.

Signs of a Root-bound Pothos

Roots Spiraling Around the Pot

Pothos roots are able to grow and absorb nutrients and water in their tropical habitats in which they are climbing trailing.

These properties allow them to increase their size, become fuller and can reach up to forty inches (12 metres) long.

But the roots of your pothos have to contend with the small resources and space in the pot.

They will then weave or spiral around the bottom and walls of the container to maximize the space available and absorb oxygen as well as moisture and nutrients.

pothos in pot next to frog

You can, however, remove your pothos from the pot and examine your rootball.

Pot-bound pothos is a dense root which form spiral patterns on the walls as well as in the bottom of the pot.

The root ball is an intricate, tangled maze of roots. The smaller the area is, the more dense it is.

Cracks and Fracture Lines around the Pot

Cracks and fracture lines in the pot of your plant suggest that the roots are too thick and substantial for the pot.

Pothos could be in a pot due to the fact that it is growing in a pot that isnt big enough for its size.

Or, they could have grown beyond the soil space.

When the ball of root gets more dense with roots the ball exerts pressure on the walls of the container from the inside. The pot will expand or bulge. This could result in cracking, breaking, or even fracturing.

The pothos you have is now pot-bound before you begin to notice cracks.

It is possible to determine whether your pothos-bound pothos is in a ceramic, terracotta or clay vessel.

The likelihood of bulging is higher than cracks inside a plastic container and can cause a swollen appearance.

Roots Coming Out of Drainage Holes

Find unusual growth patterns if you suspect that your pothos plant is becoming the type of plant that is pot-bound. For instance, on the surface of the growing medium there could be an extensive cluster of roots.

A few roots that are located on the soils surface are typical of fast-growing plants.

The roots of a pothos that is root bound however are often so compact that they may start to emerge from drainage holes.

They can be difficult to spot particularly in the event that they are tilted over.

Roots Growing Upwards Through the Topsoil

If your pothos is extremely root-bound, roots may be seen emerging from drainage holes and the soils surface.

Since the roots have occupied all the spaces at the sides and bottom in the vessel, there is only one possible direction of expansion is upwards.

This is a sign of the pots bounds. Your pothos desperately needs repotting, root pruning, or divisional propagation.

Leaf Discoloration and Wilting

So long as it is getting enough nutrients and water the pothos will be healthy in the beginning phases of becoming in a pot.

But, the roots will eventually grow so large in the pot that it will show dehydration and nutritional deficiencies. The most obvious victims typically go away.

They may either turn pale or lose their variegation in attempts to boost photosynthesis, or begin to become yellow because of a deficiency in zinc, nitrogen, and other vital nutrients.

When resources are diverted towards new growth, the old (usually less dense) foliage will begin to turn yellow first.

The leaves that are yellowed tend to be smaller and stunted , and can be brown before falling off. Another indication of pothos that is bound is the general and constant wiping.

The leaves will drop and then wilt, despite your best efforts to keep the plant hydrated.

Stunted or Slow Growth

In a more positive note, the pothos that is rooted is likely to grow slowly, stunted or disfigured because of a deficiency in the nutrients as well as water.

The new leaves are typically tiny, wrinkled, or twisted or dont open in any way. In the extreme the pothos may not show any signs of development.

An array of pothos-related issues can cause a slowing of growth.

Root rot and water overflow are two instances of the effects of water and low light conditions.

The only method to eliminate them is to remove your pothos and look at the roots.

What To Do With Root Bound Pothos?

The recognition the fact that your pothos is pot-bound is only a small part of the fight. The second half is knowing how to take care of your pothos.

If your pothos is root-bound, there are two choices: repot it or divide the plant.

Repotting Your Pothos Plant

Pot-bound could be the case when your pothos is falling or wilting and is sulking regardless of how often and how much water you give it.

To examine the roots in your pothos plant, lightly lift it away from its container. You might have observed roots sprouting over the surface of your soil or in drainage holes.

If your pothos is at the point of being bound to the pot, repotting is your most effective option.

Begin by tapping the sides of the container to release the entangled roots (use the same method when your container is made of plastic).

If your plant is housed in a ceramic, clay or terracotta pot take a long knife along the inside part of the container.

With one hand placed over the soil, place the primary part of the pothoss stem between your hands. Then, tilt the pot so that your pothos can slide out , while still receiving enough support.

It is possible to reuse the potting mixture, however I would recommend beginning over. Keep in mind that pothos isnt concerned about soil, but it must be well-drained.

When choosing a new container make sure its at least two sizes bigger in both diameter and depth than the pot you used previously.

It is possible to trim off roots that are too long and tidy up your pothos by getting rid of dead dying, dying, or colored foliage.

It is important to keep in mind that pothos is the source of calcium oxalate which is a substance that is a sappy and emerges from the sites of injury.

Ingestion of the sap can be harmful to pets and humans alike. When it comes in the contact of your skin, it could trigger extreme allergies and irritation.

Repotting must be kept away from pets and children. It is recommended to wear disposable gloves or cleanse your hands.

Take these measures to make sure you succeed in repotting:

  1. Get rid of as much soil as you can.
  2. Get rid of dead or damaged roots.
  3. Start by filling the new pot to about a third with fresh potters medium.
  4. The remaining space inside the container with soil and your plant. Keep a gap of one inch between the top of the container as well as the surface of your soil.

Dividing Your Pothos Plant

If you are unable to change the pothoss location for any reason, splitting the plant is your most effective alternative.

Additionally, you can increase the number of plants you have by converting divisions and incorporating new plants.

To segregate your photos with roots and resolve the issue Follow these steps:

  1. I suggest that you deeply and thoroughly water your pothos-bound soil the day prior to. This helps loosen the soil around the root system, which will make your work easier on the next day.
  2. Turn your plant upside down and gently tap the sides of the container prior to removing the pothos.
  3. Split your pothos mother plant using a sterilized pair of scissors, clippers or sharp knives. To improve the odds of survival, make sure the pothos plantlets have stems as well as enough leaves and roots.
  4. Separate the roots so that the divisions are separated and are now ready to be planted in new pots.
  5. The new pot should be filled half-way with the new growth medium.
  6. While its not required but dipping your pothos into the hormones that root before planting the pothos in new containers could be beneficial.
  7. Place your pothos in the pot and fill the sides, edges, and the rest of the pot. Fill the pot to the top. Instead leave 1 to 2 inches to allow for ease of irrigation when you water your pothos.
  8. To prevent further stress and shock, make sure your newly planted pothos receive sufficient lighting as well as that your soil is evenly damp.

How to Repot a Root-Bound Pothos

As per the general rule of thumb the repotting of your pothos needs to be performed every two to three years.

This will prevent the pothos in check from getting a pot-bound. The ideal time to report is in the early spring, before the season of growth begins.

But, this is the ideal time to repot the pothos that is root bound. This is how:

(1) Take from the Pothos out of the Pot

First, you must take off your pothos. Turn your pothos gently to let them fall out from the pot.

Follow the steps above to plant pothos in ceramic or plastic containers. Be gentle so that you dont damage your pothos that are already stressed.

(2) Prune and Loosen the Roots

The roots of a pot-bound plant will likely to become twisting, tangled, or damaged.

So, trimming off a few of dying, diseased or excessively long roots is logical.

The first step is to use an unclean and sterile pair of pruning shears. After that, trim to match the shape that the ball of root.

Pruning back a few roots can encourage healthier and more robust root growth. It also helps to disentangle any entanglement.

Make sure you loosen and extend the roots in order to prevent spiral growth in the future.

Be sure to check at signs of disease within the roots. To prevent the contamination of other roots, eliminate the affected roots.

(3) Prepare Sterilized Potting Mix and New Pot

The most exciting part is choosing the container to be used for the next one. It should be a couple of sizes wider and more deep than the one before to allow for the rapid growth of roots over the next couple of years.

You can purchase an already-mixed potting medium to pothos (check the most current Amazon cost below) or create your own.

The first step is to ensure its well-drained with coco noir or sand, or vermiculite.

(4) Repot Your Pothos

The new pot should be filled up to one-third of its depth by adding fresh potting mix.

Then, you can insert your pothos, filling up the sides and edges and leave one or two inches on the top to allow to allow for easy watering.

(5) Water the Pothos

Once youve repotted your pothos, gently water it to keep it evenly damp.

Let it soak for a couple of minutes if you observe any signs of dehydration, like swelling and drooping.

Stopping Pothos from becoming Root Bound

  • Think about dividing your pothos in order to reduce the size.
  • Every 2 to 3 years, change the pots on your plant.
  • Consider pruning your pothos regularly.


Went from an inexperienced gardener to a half-decent one over 10+ years. I cover anything from general indoor plant guides and lawn care, to succulents and flowers. Super happy to share my tips and tricks with you :)