How to fix a root bound Monstera?

The Monstera plant is a tropical delight. The lush green foliage of this plant can add an extra dimension to any room. 

Monsteras grow at an incredible speed which may make them root bound faster. However, you can easily solve this issue by repotting or splitting a root-bound Monstera.

In this post, we will learn how to identify a root bound Monstera and different ways to fix this problem.

What does root bound mean?

A root-bound plant is one whose roots have completely filled up the pot. If The roots  start to grow in circles around the outer edge of the plant  if the plant is left in a small pot for too long,. 

Over time, the roots wrap around themselves and leave no room for air, water, and nutrients to permeate the soil.

Plants use their roots to gather nutrients and water from the soil. When the roots grow too big, they do not have adequate space to perform their role which slows down the plant’s growth. A severely root-bound plant will eventually die.

Like any other plant, Monsteras also need nutrients, water, and oxygen to thrive. So, if the container in which your Monstera is planted in is getting smaller, it’s time for you to take the below-mentioned action to save your Monstera from some serious problems.

how to fix a root bound Monstera?

Does Monstera like being root bound?

Some people believe Monstera should be left in a small pot as it likes to be root bound. But this is just a myth. Monstera does not like being root-bound. In fact, no plant wants to be root bound.

A root-bound Monstera does not have access to enough soil and space to grow, which leads to a deficiency in nutrients, oxygen, and moisture. This slows down the growth of Monstera and leads to curled and yellowed leaves.

You should be proactive and repot your Monstera every two years to prevent it from becoming root bound.

How to check if you have a root-bound Monstera?

Several signs indicate that you have a root-bound Monstera without removing the plant from its pot.

1.  Slow growth

A root-bound Monstera will stop growing more leaves or stems because it is not getting enough nutrition. If it manages to grow at all, it will be stunted with poorly formed leaves. 

The entangled roots of the plant cannot absorb the nutrients even though you may be fertilizing it with the best fertilizer.

2.  Roots emerging from drainage holes

Pick up the pot and examine the bottom. If you notice roots coming out of the drainage holes, it’s a sign that you have a root-bound Monstera. The roots grow out of drainage holes to reach out for water and nutrients. The plant stretches its roots to absorb moisture from the air.

3.  Roots visible above ground

When there isn’t any space left for the roots to grow in the pot, it sends its roots above ground to get more room to grow. This also helps the roots to absorb moisture from the air.

The roots of a root-bound Monstera first grow above ground and then move towards the drainage holes.

4.  Yellow or curled leaves

A root bound Monstera is unable to absorb moisture from the soil. Monstera leaves store water which gives them their bright green color. When the roots cannot provide enough water to their leaves, they turn yellow and start curling.

How to check Monstera roots?

If you notice any of the signs mentioned above, you need to take your Monstera out of its container and examine its roots. To do so, you can follow these steps –

  1. Water the Monstera well the day before you plan to inspect its roots. Dehydrated roots are fragile and can break easily. You are less likely to damage Monstera roots if you water them well the day before.
  2. Lay the pot on the side and tap on the sides to loosen up the soil before you try to get the plant out.
  3. It’s easy to take the plant out of ceramic or plastic pots. The roots tend to cling to the textured surface of the terracotta and stone pots, so taking the plant out may require some effort.
  4. Do not tug the plant if it is not coming out. Take a long, serrated knife and run it along the edges of the pot. If some roots are stuck in the drainage hole, you may have to snip them to get the plant out.
  5. Scrutinize the roots of the Monstera.
  6. If the roots are moderately root bound, you can put the plant back in the container. However, if the roots are tangled up and look more like spaghetti, with only a little soil, you are dealing with a root bound Monstera.

Can root-bound plants recover?

You can save root-bound plants using proper repotting techniques and adequate hydration. 

Keep reading to learn how to split and repot a root bound Monstera and enjoy more of this beautiful plant.  

How do you fix root bound Monstera?

Once you have identified a root-bound Monstera, you have following two options to fix it –

  1. Repot it in a bigger pot
  2. Divide your Monstera

How to repot a root-bound Monstera?

To begin, collect all the things required to repot the root-bound Monstera:

  • A bigger pot – Choose a container two inches wider than the old one. Never move a plant to a pot that is too much bigger than the old one, as it can lead to issues. The pot should have drainage holes as Monsteras need good drainage.
  • Choose a right well-draining potting mix for your Monstera to provide all the nutrients to your plant. Also, ensure you have enough potting mix to cover the volume difference between the old pot and the new one.
  • Clean shears or garden scissors
  • Water
  • Gardening gloves
How to repot a root-bound Monstera?

Follow these ten steps to repot your root-bound Monstera successfully –

  1. Water the plant the day before repotting it. This makes removing it easy and protects the roots.
  2. Move the pot to a work area with easy access to water.
  3. Remove the plant from its existing pot and rinse the existing soil from the root ball.
  4. Loosen the root mass gently if it is too tightly bound. This will help the roots function better.
  5. Trim any roots that look damaged.
  6. Fill 1/3 of the new container with Monstera soil mix.
  7. Transplant the Monstera into this pot and will the pot with the soil mix.
  8. Leave a gap of one or two inches from the edge for watering and fertilization.
  9. Tap the pot on a firm surface to help the soil mix settle. Top up with more soil if required.
  10. Water the Monstera thoroughly before returning it to its original spot.

How to split Monstera roots to divide a root-bound Monstera?

Another way to fix the root bound Monstera is by splitting the plant.

Follow these below-mentioned steps to divide and repot your root-bound Monstera successfully –

  1. Water your Monstera thoroughly a day before dividing to loosen the soil and root ball.
  2. Inspect the soil surface to identify the growth points. Each end of this growth point can be divided successfully.
  3. Take the Monstera out of the pot.
  4. Use a sterile knife or scissors to cut through the root network between the growth points.
  5. Make sure each split plant has enough roots and stems to grow well.
  6. Fill 1/3 of two or three pots with Monstera soil mix.
  7. Transplant the divided Monstera plants and fill the pot with the soil mix.
  8. Splitting the roots can be traumatic for the plant, and they may need a week or two to recover.
  9. Water the plants sparingly during this time as the severed roots are susceptible to fungal disease.
  10. You will notice new growth within a few weeks.

How do you know when to repot a Monstera?

Young Monstera plants can quickly outgrow their pots. It’s ideal to repot them once a year to encourage healthy growth. However, older plants can be repotted once every two or three years. 

Early spring is the growth season for Monstera. Hence, it’s the best time to prune and repot to help plants adjust to the new growing conditions.

While being root-bound is one of the most common reasons for repotting your Monstera, there can be other reasons too. These include –

1.  To change the soil mix

If your soil does not drain well, you may need to repot the plant and plant your Monstera in the right potting mix

2.  To spur new growth

If the growth of your Monstera has slowed down, it means your plant is not getting enough nutrition. Replanting your Monstera in a bigger pot will help to spur new growth.

  3. To slow down the growth

Sometimes when your Monstera has reached the height limit of your home, you may need to trim its roots and repot it to slow down its growth. 

Final thoughts

It is natural for plants to become root-bound if grown in the same pot for a long time. However, no pot plant likes to be root bound.

If you have a Monstera showing slow growth or its roots are visible on top of the soil, chances are you have a root-bound Monstera.

You can fix this by either repotting your Monstera in a bigger pot or split it by growing it in two or more pots.

Paying proper attention and taking timely actions can help preventing root bound Monstera. 

fix a root bound Monstera