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How To Tell If Your Pilea Is Pot Bound

Updated: Jun 26, 2020

When roots don't have enough room to grow inside a pot, they will eventually begin growing in a winding circle; this causes soil to break down and traps the roots within the pot. The following guide will help you know whether or not your Pilea is pot bound.

How to Tell If Your Pilea Is Pot Bound

What Causes a Plant to Be Pot Bound?

Two factors can cause your Pilea to become pot bound. Make sure to identify these types of conditions, which will increase the likelihood of your plant becoming pot bound.

Placing Your Pilea In A Pot That Is Too Small

If you grow your Pilea inside a pot that is simply too small for the size of the plant, then the roots will have nowhere to go and will consequently grow in a pot-bound formation. This problem is typically the result of plant owners who grab planters and pots that appeal to them, rather than considering the needs of the plant. Always look up the expected size of your plant in ideal growing conditions and give it a pot that will have sufficient room.

Your Pilea Is Growing Quickly Over A Short Period Of Time

Your Pilea might become pot pound when experiences excessive growth over a short period of time. This can often occur in a Pilea that enters a new growing season with particularly good conditions, such as having plenty of nutrients in the soil, the perfect amount of moisture, and an ideal amount of sunlight and humidity. In these cases, the plant will quickly outgrow its original pot before the usual repotting schedule. Congratulations: you have an overactive Pilea, you just need to replant it!

Signs Your Houseplant is Pot Bound

If you aren’t sure whether or not your Pilea is pot bound, consider the following signs, but keep in mind that many of these symptoms are similar to other Pilea issues that plant owners experience – such as problems caused by insufficient nutrients, watering too much or not watering enough, and so on. The key to rooting out the real source of the problem is knowing the context that causes these symptoms.

The only surefire way to determine if your plant is pot bound is to look at the roots. If you see that the roots have compacted in a circular motion, then your plant is pot bound. In this case, replant your Pilea right away, so that your plant can be nursed back to its full health. However, removing your plant from the pot or planter to check on the roots can disturb the plant, so only do this if you spot one or more of the following signs.

Yellow Or Brown Leaf Discoloration

Since the roots of a pot-bound Pilea are unable to deliver adequate moisture and nutrition throughout the plant, the leaves will begin to show signs of discoloration. The most common colors you will see are brown and yellow; in some cases, the brown may appear at the edges, whereas the yellow may appear in spots.

Stunted Growth

One of the most common – and frustrating – signs of a pot-bound plant is stunted growth. Stunted growth may occur even you have been otherwise caring for your plant with adequate moisture, the right amount of sunlight, the proper humidity and temperature, and so on. This is because the roots are incapable of providing enough nutrients for the plant to grow properly, resulted in stagnation. Stunted growth will be most obvious during a growth period, though it’s possible for a pot-bound plant to go unrecognized during the dormant winter season due to the lack of growth being seen as normal.


Wilting will occur when Pilea is not getting enough moisture or nutrients. Wilting can impact the leaves, branches, as well as any buds or flowers on the plant. A pot-bound Pilea is prone to wilting due to their inability to receive water and nutrients from their roots. Wilting can be very quick and result in a damaged plant within a short period of time, so make sure to act fast if you notice this symptom.

Cracks Or Bulging In The Pot

Unlike the previously mentioned symptoms, bulging and cracks in a pot or planter are symptoms exclusively associated with a plant being pot bound. If your Pilea is significantly pot bound, then the roots may actually grow so entangled that they damage your pot or planter! In this case, you may see cracks in pots or planters made from porcelain, glass, or plastic, as well as bulging in more pliable materials such as soft plastics.

Difficulty Removing Your Plant From Its Pot

If you try to remove your plant from its pot, but it appears stuck for a reason you can’t determine, this is a likely sign that the plant is pot bound. The roots in a pot-bound plant cause the circumference of the plant to increase, which can cause it to press up against the pot or planter; it is then difficult to remove due to the lack of wiggle room between the roots and the planter.

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