9 Signs Of Anthurium Root Bound (Roots Above Soil)

Root bound is not a serious issue, but it can trigger many plant problems. Read on to learn how to fix anthurium root bound ion detail.

9 Signs Of Anthurium Root Bound (Easy Solution)

Anthurium is one of the widely grown ornamental houseplants known for its beginner-friendly nature.

Even if your anthurium plant is healthy, after a couple of years you may see some of the roots coming out of the drainage holes.

It is called root bound. First of all, it’s very common and there’s nothing to worry about.

If you feel like your anthurium plant is root bound, then this is the only article you need to read.

In this guide, you will learn,

Let’s get started.

What Is Anthurium Root Bound?

Anthurium root bound happens when the roots of your plant is obstructed by some barrier. In potted anthurium plants, the barrier is always the walls of your plant’s container. Root bound alone is not a serious problem, it can trigger other plant problems like no flowers, root rot, etc in the future.

In simple terms, when your anthurium plant overgrows its existing pot, then it is said to be root bound. 

Even though root bound is considered to be a plant problem, it is something that you can be happy to see. Root bound happens when your plant has overgrown its pot, which means you take care of your plant really well.

In fact, a lot of experienced houseplant owners rejoice when they see root bound in a new plant for the first time.

Do Anthurium Like To Be Root Bound?

Contrary to popular belief, anthuriums do not like to be root bound. In fact, except for a few, most of the houseplants’ plants do not like to be root bound. Being root bound makes the root system deprived of air, water, and enough nutrients from the soil.

One of the reasons why some people think anthuriums like to be root bound is because in their natural habitat they grow above layers of leaf mold and have a lot of barriers in the form of tree roots.

It is true, but anthuriums hop their aerial roots on the branches of some trees to make it a host. As a result, even if their primary root is bounded by some barrier they get nutrients from the host tree branch.

But in an indoor setting, the aerial roots are not getting any nutrient-dense host. So, in the long run, your anthurium plant will show some discomfort due to root bound.

Symptoms Of Root Bound Anthurium

The most commonly seen symptom of anthurium root bound is the roots growing out of the drainage holes. In some cases, the root may curl upwards and come out of the top layer of the soil. Other symptoms include slow growth, no flowers, discoloration in leaves, etc.

For a better understanding, here are all the recorded signs of anthurium root bound based on scientific evidence and houseplant owner experiences.

  1. Roots pushing soil through the drainage hole
  2. Roots coming out of drainage hole
  3. Roots come above the topsoil layer
  4. Roots pushing plant upwards
  5. Discoloration in leaves
  6. Slower growth
  7. No flowers
  8. Blocked drainage holes
  9. Cracks on pot

Not everyone will see all of these symptoms. 

But, for confirming whether your plant is root bound or not, it should show at least a couple of signs out of the first four symptoms.

How To Fix Anthurium Root Bound?

Being confined to a smaller container is not healthy for your anthurium. The ideal and most healthy way to fix anthurium root bound is to repot the plant in a bigger container. As a temporary solution, you can aggressively prune your plant to slow down the root growth.

Here are the different ways to fix the anthurium root bound step by step.

1. Repotting Anthurium Plant

As I already said, this is the ideal way to fix anthurium root bound.

Here are the step by step instructions to repot a root bound anthurium,

  1. Thoroughly water your plant one day before so that you can easily detangle the bounded roots.
  2. Gather the required items for repotting your root bound anthurium plant. The items include a bigger sized pot, fresh soil mix, and warm water. If you use any tools, make sure they are sanitized before using them. Also, use gloves while handling the plants.
  3. Once everything is ready, uproot your plant from the existing plant.
  4. Analyze the severity of root bound. If it’s very severe dip them in lukewarm water to loosen. While loosening the roots, remove the existing soil entirely.
  5. If the entire root system seems to be healthy, then just fill up the soil in the new pot and plant your anthurium. On the other hand, if you see some roots rotting, then it is recommended to cut those roots. Also, dip the existing healthy roots in a hydrogen peroxide solution to remove fungal or bacterial infection.

Once repotting is done, water your plant to make the soil and roots settle together.

If you want to read a more in-depth guide, I advise you to read the anthurium repotting guide.

2. Aggressive Pruning

If you do not have time to repot your plant due to a busy work schedule or other personal commitments, then you can prune your plant aggressively.

When you prune your anthurium aggressively, the plant has got a lot of new open wounds that need to be taken care of on priority. As a result, your anthurium will spend most of its energy on healing those wounds.

Also, when you prune aggressively, the root to plant size ratio changes. To fix that, your anthurium plant has to grow new foliage instead of roots for a couple of months.

Theoretically, this approach should work and many houseplant owners expressed positive results. But, keep in mind that there is no scientific study to support this claim.

3. Root Pruning

This is just the opposite of what you do in the above solution.

Instead of pruning foliage, you need to uproot your plant and prune some roots. This will also alter the foliage to root size ratio to temporarily suppress the root bound issue.

But, I don’t recommend this solution because anyways you have to uproot the plant. Instead of pruning the root, it is better to repot the plant in a bigger pot for better growth and bloom.

4. Divison

If your anthurium is already too big and you do not want to handle a massive plant, then this is the best way to fix the root bound issue.

Another advantage of division is that you get multiple small plants for you and your loved ones as gifts. If you have a fairly rare anthurium variety, then you can make some hundreds of dollars as well.

Dividing is just one way of propagating your anthurium plant. And, we advise you to read a dedicated guide on anthurium pruning so that you get a high success rate.

Can You Prevent Anthurium Root Bound?

There is nothing you can do to prevent root bound since it is not a disease or plant problem. 

If you are providing proper care guidelines, then you can expect your plant to outgrow its current pot in two years. So, as a precautionary measure, it is advised to repot your plant once every two years.

As I already mentioned pruning down your plant aggressively will also put the plant to focus on the new foliage and flowers instead of growing new root. But there is no proven scientific evidence to support this claim.

Anthurium Root Bound – Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

This section contains all the frequently asked questions related to anthurium root bound so that you don’t have to ask them on different forums.

Can I cut my anthurium roots?

If your anthurium plant has overgrown its existing pot, you can cut back some of the roots and this process is known as pruning roots. It is just a temporary solution and eventually, you should get a bigger pot for your anthurium plant so that it can grow fuller and bushier.

What do you do with an overgrown anthurium plant?

When your existing anthurium plant has overgrown its pot too much, the best thing you can do is either repotting it into a bigger port or divide the plant into multiple smaller plants in smaller pots.

Can anthurium recover from root bound?

Since root bound is not a fatal disease there is nothing like recovery. If you find out that your plant is root bound and the roots are healthy, all you have to do is repot the plant in a bigger pot and your plant will continue growing.

On the other hand, if the root bound already triggered any other issues like root rot, then the recovery of the plant is totally dependent on the severity of the problem.

Will root bound anthurium die?

It is very unlikely that an anthurium plant dies due to root bound. But if no action is taken for a long period, the plant will overgrow its pot and eventually starve without enough nutrients, water, and soil aeration to support and maintain growth. 

Wrapping Up

Anthurium root bound is something that every houseplant owner experiences once every couple of years.

Even though boot bound is not a serious issue, over a period of time it can progress into something more plant problems like root rot.  

So, it is highly recommended to inspect your plant for the signs of anthurium root bound every couple of months and repot the plant proactively.


To back up the information we provide in our articles, the Plantials team only uses high-quality sources published in peer-reviewed university or scientific research journals.

  1. Anthurium Aristocracy, New Zealand Garden Journal
  2. A Bacterial Disease Of Anthurium In Hawaii, Center For Agriculture & Bioscience International.

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