Do Dracaenas Like To Be Root Bound? (Learn Why Here)

There are a lot of plants that prefer to be either completely root bound or slightly root bound, but do dracaenas like to be root bound?

Dracaenas prefer to be root bound, but only to a certain degree rather than completely root bound. This is likely because they are adapted to drier conditions, and having roots that are slightly bound reduces the likelihood of overwatering.

If you aren’t sure what root bound actually means or what impact it has on your dracaena, then keep reading to learn more. We’ll also cover when it can become a major problem, so stay tuned!

What Does Root Bound Mean?

Root bound is a term used to describe the condition of a plant’s roots when they have grown too much for the current pot size. When this happens, the roots start to circle the bottom of the pot and become entwined with each other.

They may even poke through the drainage holes or show up above the soil line.

Other Plants That Like To Be Root Bound

There are lots of plants that prefer slightly bound roots, and some even thrive with completely bound roots:

There are also several reasons why plants like this state; for some, it promotes flower growth, and for others, the risk involved with transplanting is simply too high.

But why exactly do dracaenas prefer a slightly root bound state?

Why Dracaenas Like To Be Slightly Root Bound

Dracaenas are known to appreciate being slightly root bound, as it helps them thrive and grow.

While there isn’t any hard evidence on why, it’s very likely due to moisture.

Dracaenas don’t require watering very often and having slightly root bound roots means that there is less available moisture for them to absorb. This makes overwatering much less likely, which is beneficial for the plant.

When you also consider that a lot of dracaenas are succulents, it makes even more sense. Succulents store lots of water in their stems, which is seen in many types of dracaenas, so having lots of moisture in the soil is not beneficial.

Problems It Can Cause

Dracaenas generally don’t mind being somewhat root-bound, which means their roots are somewhat confined within the pot they are in.

However, if the roots become completely bound, it will become an issue, and here’s why.

Blocks Drainage Holes

Root-bound dracaenas can cause their dense root networks to block the drainage holes in the pot.

This can lead to poor drainage and, consequently, overwatering issues.

When drainage holes are blocked, excess water cannot escape, and this can result in root rot. Root rot is a very serious problem and can kill dracaenas if it isn’t addressed quickly, as the roots will slowly die, and the rot spreads into other parts of the plant like the stem.

Lack Of Soil & Nutrients

When a dracaena becomes root-bound, there is a very small amount of soil left for the roots, leading to two major issues:

  • Lack of moisture – Dracaenas may prefer drier conditions, but a complete lack of moisture as a result of very bound roots will cause the leaves to turn brown and crispy and wilt severely.
  • Lack Of Nutrients – If there isn’t much soil, then there will be a lack of nutrients available for the roots to absorb. Nutrients like nitrogen, phosphorus, and potassium are incredibly important for overall growth, health, and root development; without these, your dracaena will suffer greatly.

You can expect severely root bound dracaenas to grow slowly and face similar symptoms to underwatering and malnourishment.

How To Repot A Root Bound Dracaena

It’s hard to know if your dracaena is either severely root bound or slightly root bound without inspecting the roots.

You can infer from other symptoms that the plant is showing, but without checking the roots, it is hard to say for certain.

Remove The Plant

Gently remove the plant from its current container, being careful not to damage the roots or foliage. In some cases, you might need to tap the pot gently to loosen the soil and root ball.

Inspect The Roots

Once you have removed the plant, take a moment to inspect the roots.

Root rot can cause similar symptoms to severely root bound roots, so this stage is crucial to see what you are dealing with.

If the roots are tightly wrapped around each other with very little soil left over, then they are severely root bound. You can find example images here to help with this stage.

Loosen The Root Ball

Loosening the roots is crucial to help them grow in a new container.

To do this, start by taking your hands and gently pulling at the roots to loosen them. In severe cases, you may need to cut into the bottom and pull roots to loosen them up.

Don’t worry if you cut into several roots – it’s more important to loosen them up to promote new root growth.

Repot Into A Larger Container

Now that the roots are loosened, it is time to repot the plant.

Choose a new container that is 1-2 inches larger in diameter than the current pot, and make sure it has plenty of drainage holes in the bottom.

Add a layer of well-draining soil mix, and place the loosened root ball into the center of the pot. Fill in the surrounding area with more soil to ensure the roots are adequately covered, and the plant is stable.

Succulent soil can be used here, or you can make your own mix using potting soil, perlite, and sand.


Finish repotting your root bound dracaena by giving the new soil a good watering.

This will help the roots settle in and establish themselves in their new environment. Monitor the moisture levels closely, and make adjustments as needed to ensure your plant remains happy and healthy.

In Summary

Dracaenas thrive with slightly root bound roots as it limits the amount of moisture that they receive.

If the roots become severely root bound, it can cause issues, so it’s important not to let them get into this state. You should repot your dracaenas once every two to three years, and if you suspect that the roots are becoming an issue, then it’s important to inspect them.

If you want to learn more about dracaenas, then check out some of our recent articles below:

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About Me

Hi, I'm Joe! I'm the head of SEO and content management at Bloom and Bumble. I'm a huge plant lover and over the years my home has become more like an indoor rainforest. It has taken a lot of trial and error to keep my plants healthy and so I'm here to share my knowledge to the rest of the world.

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