Do Succulents Like To Be Root Bound?

With all the talking of some plants likes to be root bound. You are wondering: do succulents like to be root bound! In this article, we gonna answer this question. And discuss how root bound or rootball can affect your succulent growth. Also will teach you how to achieve great results without stressing your plant.

But before diving deep into the details I will put the answer for our main question as simple as this: do succulents like to be root bound? Succulent does not like to be root bound. Because of root-bound signals to the plant that there is no space for future growth. Therefore the succulent respond by shifting its energies from normal growth to regenerating through blooming.

Some growers want the blooms without understanding the stress that caused such flowers.

It is a fact that succulent is one of the toughest plants that can tolerate drought and lack of nutrients. They developed such abilities in their native habitat ( deserts).

However, that doesn’t mean we should give them extra stress by bounding their roots. Rootbound does not happen in nature ( desert).

succulents can survive occasional drought and a relative lake of nutrients. But root-bound beside increases the drought and lake of nutrients it also tells the plant it will die soon.

Because there is no room for the roots. Here is the real problem. Keep reading to understand how root rot effects succulents.

How root bound affects cactus and succulents

Less Soil

When the roots are bounded that means it grew in the soil place. Therefore the soil particles will be less when compared to a plant that grows in the normal conditions.

Soil plays two roles. First, it holds moisture in order for the roots to absorb it through time.

Second, it holds the nutrients in order for the plant to absorb it through time. In the case of root-bound, your succulent or cacti may show symptoms of dehydration or nutrients deficiency.

Rootbound signals to succulent that it will die soon

As I mentioned earlier succulents and cactus have developed to tolerate both lacks of nutrients and drought in order to survive.

But it doesn’t develop to adapt to root-bound. Such a thing will give the plant message that it will die eventually.

So the plant act by stoping its normal growth. And tries to save its species by producing blooms in order to have offsprings.

Signs that your succulents or cactus is root bound

Inflated pot

This is the most obvious and clear sign that your succulent is root-bound. The sides of the pot may be inflated and swelled as a result of the roots pushing the pot from inside. In order to have more space.

Water drains very quickly

Another clear sign that your succulent is root bound is water will drain super fast when you water your plant.

Roots coming from the drainage holes

If you see some roots coming from the pot drainage holes that means most properly your succulent is root bounded.

Stunted growth

If you noticed that your succulent doesn’t grow at its normal growth rate, your plant may be under root bound stress.


As I mentioned earlier as a result of diminished soil. The capacity of the pot to hold water will be weak.

Although succulents and cactus do tolerate some degrees of occasional drought. But that doesn’t mean we should abuse them.

Nutrients deficiency

Same as dehydration. Your succulent may suffer from nutrients deficiency if it under root bound stress.

Because there is no enough soil to hold the nutrients. The fertilizer will drain quickly with the water when you feed your plant.

What to do if your succulent is root bound

The right thing to do is to repot your succulent or cactus. The following are the steps to do it the right way:

Step 1:

Using a piece of cloth or rag wrap the succulent thorns. In order to hold the plant from its stem. Then turn the pot upside down and gently squeeze the pot to free the root ball from the pot.

If the root-bound is severe the root ball may be tidily fixed in the pot. In a such case using a sterilized knife cut the soil edges near the pot internal sides to free the root ball.

You may cut some of the plant roots while you doing so. But don’t worry it is ok.

Step 2:

Gently loosen the root ball using your hand. If you find it too dense and hard to be loosened. Put the root ball under the tap and remove the soil.

Then put the succulents in a dry spot for two days in order for roots to dry out before repotting it in its new pot.

Step 3:

Choose a new pot that a 2 inches wider than the old one. And it has a depth of 1/3 the length of the succulent plant.

Step 4:

Put some soil in the new pot in order to form a soil layer between the plan’s roots and the pot bottom. Make sure to use a well-draining cactus mix. or you can prepare your own.

Then put your plant in the pot and fill the gaps with soil. Shake the pot gently to fill air pockets with soil

Step 5:

After you plant your succulent in its new pot water it in order to make the soil well compacted.

Achieving great results without bounding the succulent’s roots

Probably now you are wondering” why people think succulent will do great if they are root bounded! They think so because of two reasons. First, they assume the grower will overwater his succulents.

Therefore, the diminished soil caused by root bound will retain less moisture. And the plant will be saved from root rot.

So they are trying to save YOU from YOU. You can easily save your plant from root rot by using a cactus potting mix that has well-draining qualities.

Secondly, They believe that succulent that root bound will have more flowers. While such a belief is valid. But such blooms are forced by the growers.

They are not coming from a place of ease at least from the succulent point of view. The plant focus on flowering as a response to stress.

You can have healthy flowers without stressing your succulents or cactus simply by applying a fertilizer that is rich in phosphorous ( P) during the blooming season.

In conclusion

In this article, I hope I dispelled the myth that succulents and cactus like to be root bound. Some growers root bound their plants in order to force blooming.

And saving their succulents plant from themselves in terms of overwatering. Simply you can achieve the two ends without root-bound and stressing your succulent.

You do so by applying a fertilizer that has high phosphorous value during the blooming season. And using a cactus mix that has a good drainage quality.

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