The Q&A Archives: Root Information

Question: I was transplanting some palms the other day and found that all the roots were knotted up. I detangled them and split the 6 palms into 2 pots with 3 plants each. Is finding roots that way a BAD thing? How can I avoid this?

Also, there's another plant that has roots starting to come out from the bottom of the pot. Should I also transplant that one?


Answer: It's not unusual for the roots of potted plants to grow around and around, following the confines of the inside of the container. Some plants don't mind being root-bound, and some actually prefer this condition and refuse to bloom unless they're pot-bound. It's not necessarily a bad thing, providing you supply ample moisture and nutrients to the plant. In the case of palms, they're likely to be happy in pots where their roots are confined, so no real harm has been done. You can expect a flush of new top growth to follow the root growth now that your palms have been divided and given more room for the roots to stretch and grow. If the second plant has roots coming out of the drainage holes, it's time to repot it into a slightly larger container. When you transplant, untangle the roots a bit, use the next sized pot and use fresh potting soil.

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