Do anthuriums like to be root bound, or does this negatively affect their growth?
Anthuriums thrive with slightly bound roots but not completely bound roots. It’s a fine balance, but if the roots are slightly bound, it will lead to more frequent blooms.
In this guide, I’ll use my own root bound anthurium as an example to explain its benefits and the risks involved with letting the roots grow into this state.
Let’s get into it.
- How To Tell If Your Anthurium Is Root Bound
- What Benefits Does It Have?
- When It Can Go Too Far
- When To Repot
- In Summary
How To Tell If Your Anthurium Is Root Bound
It’s easy to tell if your anthurium is root bound, and I know this from my own experience.
My anthurium is currently due to be repotted after around five years in the same pot. Admittedly, this is a much longer period than it should usually be; however, the roots are not as severely bound as you would expect.
Here are some easy tips for knowing if your anthurium is root bound.
Roots Growing Out Of Drainage Holes
This was the first thing I checked before repotting my anthurium.
If roots are growing out of the drainage holes, there clearly isn’t much room left for them in the soil itself.
It’s worth noting that the growth, even with roots in this condition, has still been fine, with several new flowers every couple of weeks.
Roots Growing Out The Surface Of The Soil
Another key indication is if the roots start growing out of the surface of the soil.
This is the same principle as before; just make sure they aren’t aerial roots instead, which will naturally grow around and above the soil, even in a houseplant environment.
Slow Overall Growth
If your anthurium stops producing as many new leaves and stems, it could be due to the roots being bound.
This happens because it is more efficient for the plant to focus its energy on producing new flowers rather than new leaves and stems.
Examine The Roots Themselves
If you still aren’t sure, you can confirm whether the roots are bound by lifting your anthurium out of its pot and looking at the roots.
They are root bound if they are tightly wrapped around each other with little soil in between.
Soil Starts To Drain Very Quickly
Another thing you will notice is the soil starts to drain very quickly.
This is a lesser-known consequence of the roots being bound and occurs due to decreasing amounts of soil around the roots. Less soil means less water absorbed, so excess water will flow out of the drainage holes.
What Benefits Does It Have?
Root bound anthuriums have some key benefits if the roots are only slightly bound.
More Frequent Blooming
The most significant benefit of having a root bound anthurium is you will experience more frequent blooming.
When the roots struggle for space, the plant uses its energy to produce more flowers instead, as it is more productive. This works really well up to a certain point, but more on that later.
Anthuriums are epiphytes, or air plants, which naturally grow on other plants and surfaces, using them for support.
They are native to tropical America and commonly found underneath the jungle canopy, competing for sunlight with other plants.
Both of these factors mean that their roots are used to competing with other plants for space.
When It Can Go Too Far
The ideal state for anthurium roots is slightly root bound rather than completely root bound.
If the roots become completely bound, the drainage holes will become blocked, which makes overwatering much more likely. It also means that any water you add will drain right to the bottom due to a lack of soil, which can cause the roots to rot.
Slow growth, in terms of new leaf and stem development, is part of the process when the roots become bound as the plant focuses more on its flower growth.
If you notice that the blooming frequency also starts to decrease, then this is a clear indication that the roots are too tightly bound.
In Severe Cases, It Can Lead To Death
If the roots become too tightly bound, there will be a serious lack of soil and nutrients and a high risk of overwatering.
This is a deadly combination – if the roots start to rot in standing water, it’s only a matter of time before they die.
When To Repot
In my experience, repotting should be done when the roots start to grow out of the drainage holes and the growth of new leaves and stems slows down significantly.
At this stage, it’s important to give the roots new space to grow into to ensure that the soil can continue to drain properly, preventing overwatering.
If your anthurium seems to be thriving even though it has been in the same pot for a few years, the roots are very likely slightly bound and promoting the growth of new flowers.
Keep an eye on the plant at this stage, as the roots won’t take long to take over and potentially block up the drainage holes.
Want to learn more about anthuriums? Check out some of my other articles below: