Plant Roots Showing: Here’s How To Fix It

Plant Roots Showing

As the root system spreads out in search of nutrients in the soil, plant roots will start to emerge. The root can spread out so much that it causes issues for the plant, such as root-boundness and nutrient deficits.

When a plant grows too big for its pot, its roots will start to show. This is due to the plant’s growth, which has caused the roots to spread out in quest of nourishment. The roots ultimately fill the pot and begin to protrude through the drainage holes and the top of the container. The plant can be repotted to solve this issue.

Are the roots of your plant visible? For some plants, particularly orchids, this is typical. It may, however, be a distressing indicator for some plants.

That this occasionally also occurs to my plants makes me feel embarrassed. At the conclusion of this essay, you can view a photo of my potted key lime tree.

This article will explain why roots from potted plants sometimes show and what you can do to address the issue.

After reading, you will be able to take the necessary action to guarantee that your plant is properly repotted in the event that such symptoms occur.

There are a lot of nice soil alternatives available if you plan to repot your plant, but I’ve found that this Miracle-Gro potting soil from Amazon is the most reasonably priced and successful at keeping my plants healthy long after repotting. Clicking here will take you there.

Your plant’s roots may emerge from the earth for a variety of reasons, and in some circumstances when exposed to light, the roots may turn green because they are covered in algae.

View our in-depth article on the impact of light on plant roots.

Your roots coming out of the potting soil may be caused by one or more of the following factors.

1. Small Plant Pot

First off, the plant you are growing in your container or pot can be too tiny for it. Although it might seem obvious, inexperienced gardeners frequently neglect to choose the proper container size for the plant.

The plant eventually becomes root-bound as a result of this. Roots are prevented from growing to their maximum extent by the tiny pot size.

Now, What is Rootbound?

All plants, including fruits, vegetables, and flowers, require enough room for their roots to develop properly. Therefore, if you are growing plants in short containers, the roots of those plants may not have enough room to grow.

When a plant is said to be “rootbound,” it means that its roots have expanded to the point where they dominate the available area in the pot and form a dense web of roots. When taken out, the roots hold the dirt in place while preserving the pot’s shape.

Right Time to Repot:

It’s time to move your plant into a larger, bigger pot if the roots are overcrowded, that is, if you can see bundles of roots and very little dirt.

When repotting, adhere to our thorough instructions for removing old dirt from the roots.

2. Compacted Soil

Second, the soil in the container can be excessively tightly packed, thick with clay, or contain rocks or other obstructions that prevent the roots from easily penetrating the soil.

3. Nutrient Deficient Soil

A nutritional deficit in the potting soil can also cause roots to emerge from the soil, in addition to small plant pots and compacted dirt.

Roots will travel outside of the pot in search of nutrients if they are not receiving enough nutrients from the potting soil or if the plant has absorbed all available nutrients.

4. Environmental Factors

Last but not least, environmental factors may be contributing to deep root growth. For instance, if the pot is placed on a hot surface, the roots may want to spread out to where the soil is cooler.

The roots may also emerge if the plants are given shallow hydration. Remember that where there is moisture, the roots will develop.

Because of this, professionals advise against watering a yard or flower bed regularly and shallowly.

A plant can stay rooted for around two months if nutrients are continuously supplied to the soil. A plant that is root-bound will occupy the majority of the pot’s space, leaving only a tiny area of soil around the plant’s roots. The plant must now be given nutrients in order to survive.

A healthy plant can stay rooted for an extended period of time if it receives frequent, adequate nutrient supplies. Until you can repot the plant, this can buy you some time.

Some plants (such as the umbrella tree and spider plant) can thrive in settings where they are rootbound. While some plants can urgently require your help to prevent rootbound issues.

See our in-depth article on plants that enjoy being rootbound.

Does your plant have a rootbound problem? So now is the ideal moment to move your plant into a new, larger pot. People frequently ask us how to properly repot a rootbound plant so that it can continue to thrive.

  1. Obtain a new pot first, preferably one that is two inches larger than the one your plant is now in (for example, if it is currently in a 4? pot, get a 6? pot).
  2. The second step is to purchase new potting soil mix that is suitable for your plants, such as well-drained soil for succulents and cacti or all-purpose soil.
  3. Thirdly, fill the new container with fresh dirt. Fill the bottom to a maximum of 2 to 3.
  4. Lift the plant after that, and instead of cutting straight across the roots, gently tear into them in a cross pattern up to a few inches.
  5. Next, gently set your plant in the container on top of the fresh dirt, filling in any empty space along the sides (but don’t tamp it down too much).
  6. To ensure that the soil settles properly, sprinkle some water. More can be added later.

Note: To reduce transplant shock, newly potted plants should only get minimal irrigation and be allowed to rest.

Repotting blunders are common among gardeners and should be avoided if you want to have healthy plants in your garden.

To avoid making these errors the next time you report your plants, always keep the following in mind:

1. Unnecessarily repotting the plant

Keep in mind that water in larger pots is totally absorbed by the soil before it reaches the roots.

2. Potting into something too large

For plants that are slow growers or like a small container, such as English ivy, pothos, hoya, or succulents, it is always better to repot into something that is just an inch or two larger.

3. Planting too deeply

After repotting, the original soil surface ought to be visible. Because stems have a different cell structure than roots, burying stems too deeply usually results in their death.

Keep the ground level constant. The root ball is surrounded by fresh dirt on all sides.

4. Not leaving space at the top of the pot

If you completely fill the pot, the water will flow through the container and not have time to soak in until the roots.

When potting up little plants, leave between 1/2 and 1 inch of space between the soil and the pot rim.

5. Using dirty pots

Some plants are fatally susceptible to the fungus and bacteria found in soiled or outdated containers. Before repotting, thoroughly wash the pots in a 10% bleach solution.

My Potted Key Lime Tree Roots Showing

This is a photo of my over three-year-old potted key lime tree. The pot was beginning to seem a little too tiny, and the root system started to crowd it.

The plant grew larger and produced more fruit once I replanted it, though. It just goes to show that plants do have a way of communicating with us when they need our help or are under stress.

Take a look at how I potted this key lime tree.

The Takeaway

There are four reasons why a plant’s roots will start to show in a plant pot: the plant is root-bound; the pot is too small; the soil is too compact; or there are other environmental factors that limit the amount of nutrients in the soil.

Either the top of the soil or the bottom of the plant pot’s drainage holes will be where the roots first become visible.

Repotting is the most efficient way to solve the issue. Repotting the plant can provide the soil and room the roots need to acquire nutrients and oxygen.

To ensure that you are repotting correctly, there are a few typical mistakes to avoid, all of which we have covered in this post.


Can you cut roots growing out of pot?

Roots that are tightly packed in a pot don’t absorb nutrients well. Trim the roots and loosen the root ball before replanting to encourage good nutrient absorption. For this task, use a sharp knife or pruning shears, and if required, remove up to the lowest third of the root ball.

What to do when plant roots grow out of the pot?

Dead roots will appear black; cut them out. Make a few light cuts along the margins of the rootball with a clean, sharp knife to encourage the formation of new roots. The plant will benefit from this as it grows in its new container.

What does it mean when roots grow out of pot?

Roots will travel outside of the pot in search of nutrients if they are not receiving enough nutrients from the potting soil or if the plant has absorbed all available nutrients.

How long can plant roots be exposed?

With their roots exposed, houseplants can live for up to 24 hours outside of a plant pot. The length of time the plant survives before it needs to be repotted can be extended by wrapping the roots in damp paper or a ball of dirt.

Should plant roots be exposed?

Work rapidly to avoid leaving the roots exposed to the air longer than absolutely required. You can give the roots a huge head start into their new development pattern by gently massaging the soil away from the bottom of the roots.