Rootbound Monstera: Do Monstera Like to Be Root Bound

rootbound monstera: do monstera like to be root bound

Monstera is fast-growing, and so are the roots. Unfortunately, this can mean outgrowing its pot sooner than you expect, especially for a small-sized vessel. 

Since Monstera grows faster than most other potted plants, you may end up with root-bound Monstera by surprise.

But, do Monstera like to be root bound? Notice that being root-bound can significantly affect your potted plant’s health, but knowing when your plant is root-bound can help you deal with it on time. 

Learn the signs of a root-bound plant and what to do about it in this write-up.

Do Monstera Like to Be Root Bound

No, Monstera plants do not like to be root-bound, but they may not survive without doing so. The plant needs a bigger pot so it is not deprived of enough nutrients, oxygen, and water that it needs to grow.

What Does Root Bound Mean?

What Does Root Bound Mean?

Being root-bound means that the roots of a potted plant have outgrown the space available. When this happens, the Monstera roots become tangled in a dense fibrous mass inside the vessel.

The term is derived from how the limited space bounds such a plant’s roots, restricting their growth.  

Root-bound plants have outgrown their pots, so their roots have little room left. As a result, the roots grow in circles around the pot, starting along the outer edge and spreading inward to occupy every ounce of space left. 

The more the roots grow, the less space is left for nutrients, water, and air in the pot as the soil continues thinning.

This is why being root-bound can significantly affect the growth and development of your plant. 

Some plants are naturally prone to becoming root-bound, with roots that spiral as they grow, leading to a tangled mass.

Other plants also become root-bound due to their natural tendency to grow fast, even if they are less prone to developing tangled roots.

Other factors that can contribute to this condition include frequent watering and clay-like or tight-spaced soil types. These factors encourage the growth of shallow, lateral plant roots. 

Whatever the cause, root-bound Monstera will be unlikely to reach its full scale, happiness, and beauty due to the inhibited growth of its root systems.

Do Monstera Like to be Root Bound?

Monstera plants do not like to be root bound as this condition thwarts their growth. A severely root bound plant has no sufficient room to grow and develop. In this state, the plant’s uptake of nutrients and water is inhibited. 

Therefore, the plant will be unable to grow properly as its roots will not be able to access the required amounts of water and nutrients. 

For this reason, it is always best to transplant Monstera plants every two years.

Doing so helps reduce their likelihood of becoming pot-bound, effectively preventing the damages associated with the condition. 

In addition, consider repotting younger Monstera once a year because the plant grows relatively faster at these stages. 

Signs and Symptoms your Monstera is Root Bound

Being root-bound stresses out your potted plant. Such a plant will focus on survival using limited resources instead of thriving and blossoming as it otherwise would under optimal growth conditions.

Such a plant will be unable to reach its potential in all aspects.

Thankfully, these conditions also leave telltale signs that you can notice to tell you about the problem beneath the surface. 

Here is a detailed rundown of the signs and symptoms to keep an eye out for.

1. The plant experiences stunted growth.

When your Monstera no longer gets adequate nutrients and water from the soil, it will barely live.

You may notice that no new growth has occurred for a while, with the leaves no longer splitting as they would. 

The plant may show reduced vigor, less brilliant color, and poor health overall. In addition, stunted growth will appear in the Monstera’s overall appearance even if you water it regularly. 

When these happen, the roots may be bound and require you to fix them.

2. The soil in the pot dries up quickly. 

Root-bound plants have their roots taking up the space that the soil should take, creating large gaps in the pot.

With thin soil and large spaces, water will simply flow to the bottom of the vessel instead of seeping around the soil as it should. 

Water flowing too quickly through the soil, leaving the soil dry, should be an indication of a problem under the soil surface. 

3. Monstera becomes dehydrated and droopy.

When the soil loses its ability to retain moisture, it will deprive the plant of water. As a result, you will have to water it more frequently than normal. 

The plant will look droopy, a clear sign of dehydration.  

4. Yellowing leaves 

Droopiness may go hand in hand with yellowing leaves, indicating dehydration. If this happens despite regularly watering the plant and with no visible signs of insect attack, you may need to check the roots.

5. Expanding pot

A plant pot made of pliable material may expand due to the pressure from the growing roots inside. 

Eventually, the pot may start splitting or warping. Some pots may also crack or crumble under pressure from the roots. 

6. Roots show outside the pot.

The plant’s roots may poke out of the pot through drainage holes or at the top. This may happen when the roots have outgrown the available space inside the pot and have nowhere left for them to go. 

While one or more of these signs and symptoms of a root-bound Monstera will tell you when to act, checking the roots often can prevent the onset of these symptoms.

Interesting Read: Why is My Monstera Growing Sideways

How to Check if your Monstera is Root Bound

If you suspect that your potted plant may need splitting or repotting, you can use these steps to check its status and determine if it is root bound.

Step 1. Lay the pot on its side and gently support the shoot of your Monstera (stem and leaves) so that you do not risk damaging these parts.

Step 2. Gently squeeze on the container to loosen the soil. This approach should work for a soft plastic pot. If it is a rigid material, gently poke the soil with a ruler or stick instead. 

Step 3. Slowly guide the plant out of the pot by letting it slide out with the help of gravitational pull. You want to avoid tagging on its roots or stem, as doing so can hurt those sections. Instead, guide it out gently once the soil is loose. 

The idea is to avoid applying undue pressure on the plant. The root system should come out with a ball of dirt.

If the vessel doesn’t let go of the Monstera plant, consider breaking it or cutting it off to set the roots free. 

Step 4. Examine the plant’s roots once they are out of the pot. Take a closer look at the dirt ball. If your Monstera has bounded roots, you will see the spiraling pattern of their growth. 

Bounded roots will be tangled into a mass, taking the shape of the container. Additionally, the soil and root ball will have only a small amount of soil, with much of it consisting of the plant’s roots. At the advanced stages of the condition, there will be little to no soil left. 

How can I Fix Root-bound Monstera?

If your Monstera is root bound, you will need to fix the problem immediately to save the plant. 

You can do one of two things: 

  1. Split the root-bound plant or;
  2. Repot the affected Monstera plant into a larger vessel

Splitting a root-bound plant creates more room for the roots by spreading out the volume. This allows each plant or smaller group of plants to have more room for the roots in the new container. 

More room means the container can carry enough soil, water, and air to supply the plant roots adequately. 

On the other hand, repotting the Monstera into a bigger vessel allows more room for the already bigger mass of roots to find where to grow.

The bigger pot will also be able to accommodate the soil needed for the plant’s growth. 

How to Repot a Root-bound Monstera Plant

If you choose to repot the root-bound Monstera to fix the problem, you can follow the steps below to get it done. 

Safety concern

First, however, notice that, like most houseplants, Monstera produces a toxic chemical compound called calcium oxalate in the form of sap.

This substance can harm both humans and pets when ingested or if it comes in contact with the skin. 

Ingesting the sap can cause poisoning, which might be fatal in severe cases. The substance can also trigger an allergic reaction or cause skin irritation if it comes in contact with the skin.

For this reason, we recommend protecting yourself when handling your Monstera plant. 

  • Ensure you wear a solid pair of gloves to minimize the risk of the whitish or clear-colored substance reaching your skin. 
  • You also want to avoid touching your face while handling the plant until after cleaning your hands thoroughly.
  • Wash your hands after trimming, splitting, or repotting your Monstera plant. Even if you wear gloves, consider washing your hands thoroughly to ensure no traces of the substance reaches your skin, eyes, or mouth.

Procedure for repotting a root-bound Monstera 

Now that you know how to handle Monstera safely, here is the procedure to follow when repotting a root-bound one. 

Step 1

Remove your pot-bound Monstera from the container and carefully untangle some of its roots. The idea is to unwrap the roots to stop them from growing in a spiraling fashion when you transfer them to the new pot. 

Step 2

Prepare the new, larger pot by putting some soil inside it, covering the bottom. Ensure the soil reaches a level where it will allow the top of your Monstera’s root ball to be just slightly below the top of the larger container when put inside. 

Step 3

Place the plant inside the new pot and start adding fresh soil around the roots to fill the space. While doing so, ensure you support the plant with one hand as you use the other to add soil to the pot.

Tap down the fresh soil as you go to spread around the roots evenly and support the plant properly. 

While doing so, ensure you do not tap too hard may compact the soil, leaving insufficient air spaces around the roots.

Also, ensure you do not bury your Monstera too deeply into the soil as you fill it. Just add enough soil to cover the root ball. The rest of the shoot should remain above the soil surface. 

Step 4

Water your newly potted plant. Your Monstera should be able to support its own weight, but you can still support it if you want it to climb as it grows. 

You could also use a trellis instead of linear support for your plant. Whatever you choose will depend on your preferences. Any of this should happen after you have added enough water to encourage new growth.

If your Monstera was showing signs of retarded growth and poor health, repotting it should help turn things around. 

The plant should begin recovering and showing new vigor soon after completing this process. Its roots will appreciate the new room they have to grow and expand. 

The improved soil volume and quality will also provide them with more moisture, air, and nutrients. All of these should promote the growth of a previously bounded Monstera plant. 

What Does Root Bound Mean?

Image o Root Bound Monstera

If you choose to split the larger affected Monstera into smaller portions instead of repotting it into a larger container, the procedure will be slightly different.

Here are the steps to follow when dealing with root bounding by splitting the plant into smaller ones. 

  • Start by watering the plant adequately the day before the exercise. The water will loosen the roots and soften any soil left in the pot. This will make it easier to separate them without hurting or damaging them. 
  • Gently take your plant out of the pot. As already indicated, ensure you support the plant with one hand while holding the pot with the other when pulling it out with the help of gravity.
  • Locate any offshoots and natural branches in the root ball and cut through the roots in these areas with clippers or a sterile knife. You may not get the junctions perfectly with your cut, but ensure the clippers or knife pass through the stems’ junction points. 
  • Keep enough roots with each new Monstera plant cut from the bunch. The new plants also need to have enough leaves for their growth. Focus on getting fewer healthy plants from the bunch rather than many stressed ones. 
  • Fill the new pots with potting mix and your choice of slow-release fertilizer to supply your Monstera with nutrients.
  • Gently insert the plant into the new pot, ensuring the roots are completely immersed into the container. The top of each plant’s roots should be a few inches below the top of the pot. 
  • Support the plant with one hand and use the other hand to add soil to cover the roots, tapping it gently as you go to anchor the plant’s roots and support it in the container. 
  • Keep adding soil until you have filled the pot, but not completely burying it down into the vessel. You want to ensure there is only a thin layer of soil covering the top of the roots to keep them from being exposed.  
  • Once you finish filling the pot, tap it down gently to ensure optimum support allowing the new Monstera plant to support its weight and stand up. 
  • Finally, water the plant and place it where you want it. 
  • Repeat these steps for all the smaller plants obtained from the root-bound Monstera. 

After completing this process, you will need to take good care of the plant as it recovers from the stress and adjusts to the new conditions.

Some plants will lose some leaves during this process, so do not worry if it happens. 

You should begin to see new growth on your newly potted plants within weeks after completing the exercise.

Best Containers for Monstera Deliciosa 

When repotting your root-bound Monstera, you will have to choose the best plant pot for monstera, whether a big one or small. 

Not all vessels are equal when it comes to growing potted plants. Therefore, knowing the qualities of the best pot for Monstera deliciosa will help you grow a healthier and happier houseplant. 

The best pot for your houseplant is one that is several inches deeper and approximately one to two inches bigger than the previous pot where the plant was growing. 

The deeper the pot, the better. However, ensure the container is not too large. An oversized container can kill the plant by retaining water for longer, potentially leading to root rot.

The right-sized pot is essential as it will dry out properly between watering events.

Even with the correct pot size, ensure the container has plenty of holes for drainage, as Monstera plant roots are prone to rotting.

The holes will let out excess water, keeping the soil around the roots with enough air pockets and just the required about of moisture. 

Is It Okay for Monstera to Be Root Bound?

Not really. Being root bound is unhealthy for Monstera plants. Therefore, you should split or repot the plant as soon as you notice the signs and symptoms of root bounding.

Prolonged stress associated with this condition can inhibit the plant’s growth and affect its health.  

When Should I Repot My Monstera?

The most appropriate time to repot your Monstera plant is at the beginning of spring, just when the weather is starting to get warmer. You could also repot your plant in early summer if it is ready then.

Avoid repotting Monstera in winter since the plant becomes dormant during those chilly months. Transplanting it during this time of the year will stress the plant and likely affect its growth.

This exercise should happen once every two years. However, if the plant outgrows its container sooner than two years, we recommend repotting it without waiting to avoid the problems associated with root bounding.

Keeping your Monstera in the same pot for too long can significantly slow its growth. 


Do Monstera adansonii like to be root bound?

Absolutely not. The Monstera Adansonii does not like to be root bound as this condition deprives it of the nutrients and water it needs to grow to its full potential. So, consider repotting younger Monstera plants once a year to avoid root bounding. When the plants get older, ensure you replant them every two years.

Do Monstera deliciosa like to be root bound? 

No, like all Monstera species, Monstera deliciosa does not like to be root bound. It is one of the plants that will not survive without timely repotting. Consider growing this plant in a spacious container since keeping it in a small pot means it will not have adequate nutrients, oxygen, and water for survival.

Can I repot Monstera in summer?

Yes, you can repot Monstera in spring, summer, and even early fall for those who live in relatively warm areas. If your location experiences early winters, it is best to stick to spring and summer as the best times for repotting Monstera.

Do Monsteras like small pots?

Even though Monstera needs an adequate supply of nutrients, air, and water, they will not mind being cramped in smaller pots. The plants typically grow fast and huge irrespective of the pot size. They only have a real problem with large pots with excess wet soil, causing root rot.

Recap: Rootbound Monstera

So, while Monstera plants do not mind growing in smaller pots with limited room for their root growth and development, the plants do not like to be root bound.

The condition makes them unable to get adequate amounts of oxygen, nutrients, and water.

Without the required supply of air, water, and nutrients, potted Monstera won’t be able to reach its full growth potential.

So, always repot younger Monstera plants once every year and older ones once every two years to promote healthy growth and development.

When your Monstera is root bound, ensure you repot or split it as soon as possible.

Related Post: Rootbound Pothos

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