Ask a Question forum: A pot Bound Snake plant.

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Name: Yardenman
Maryland (Zone 7a)
Dec 18, 2017 9:45 AM CST
I have a snake plant in an old cactus bowl. The plant is utterly outgrown the pot.

I tore apart one plastic pot of another snake plant, and I had to cut it into 9 parts. The roots were SO entangled. But after a month, they seem OK.

But I CAN'T pull the snake plant out of the other pot. The bowl bulges at the sides and the roots are well in there. I can't even pull the wire cage I used to keep the leaves upright out.

I would hate to break the pot (a gift from my sister years ago). I will if I have to. Soaking the pot in a tub didn't release the roots.

Any ideas?

Thumb of 2017-12-18/Yardenman/7fce4c

Name: Mary
Lake Stevens, WA (Zone 8a)
Near Seattle
Bookworm Garden Photography Plant and/or Seed Trader Plays in the sandbox Region: Pacific Northwest Seed Starter
Winter Sowing
Dec 18, 2017 11:45 AM CST
I have tried this myself. My new rule is that all pots I buy have to be wider at the top, unless they are just for annual flowers. I now generally use a big hammer.
I have one last idea:
Sacrifice most of the snake plant, it looks pretty dead anyway. Cut it off at ground level, saving the good looking part that seems to be about 1/4 of the plant. Then use a power drill and jigsaw to cut out that area of roots so the rest will come out. I have found snake plants to be amazingly resilient. I suspect you could cut the whole thing down and it would sprout up. The roots are able to do that, I often see them making new leaves off a root that has grown out of the hole in the bottom of the pot. The plant might look bad for a while, but I think would be fine.
Please let use know how this works out for you!
Name: Porkpal
Richmond, TX
Charter ATP Member I was one of the first 300 contributors to the plant database! Keeper of Poultry Farmer Roses Raises cows
Garden Ideas: Level 2 Celebrating Gardening: 2015 Plant Identifier
Dec 18, 2017 12:28 PM CST
Or, could you cut straight down through the root ball and divide the thing in quarters which might pull out one by one - after possibly destroying the first one?
Name: tarev
San Joaquin County, CA (Zone 9b)
Always count your blessings in life
Cat Lover Houseplants Plays in the sandbox Region: California Orchids Plant Lover: Loves 'em all!
Composter Cactus and Succulents Dragonflies Hummingbirder Amaryllis Container Gardener
Dec 18, 2017 12:43 PM CST
For my preference, I delay any repot to Spring.

But if you really have to do it now, you may have to force it and cut straight down to loosen the root system.

I know you said you would not want to destroy the container, but that would be the very last option left for you to be able to remove that plant.
Name: Elaine
Sarasota, Fl
The one constant in life is change
Cat Lover Master Gardener: Florida Tropicals Multi-Region Gardener Vegetable Grower Region: Florida
Herbs Orchids Birds Garden Ideas: Level 2 Garden Sages Celebrating Gardening: 2015
Dec 18, 2017 12:55 PM CST
I would take wire cutters and cut off the cage, first. Then soak the whole thing again. Then take a serrated bread knife and cut around the plant straight down from the inside edge of the bowl.

Problem there is that the bowl curves inward at the top, of course. You've got roots under that lip that are very happy. Cutting them might lose you a few stems around the outside, but the middle part of the plant should be fine, and you'll still have the pretty bowl.

But next time you plant something in there, find a straight or tapered pot that fits inside the bowl, and just use it as a cache pot.

"Success is stumbling from failure to failure with no loss of enthusiasm." –Winston Churchill
Name: Will Creed
Professional indoor plant consultan
Dec 18, 2017 8:04 PM CST
Use a sturdy knife or machete to push down between the inside of the pot and the rootball. Go completely around slicing through the perimeter of the rootball. That should free it up from the inside of the pot including the inside lip. No need to be concerned about slicing through some of the roots.

Your plant is non-seasonal and can be repotted at any time. No need to wait for spring.
Will Creed
Horticultural Help, NYC
Contact me directly at [email protected]
I now have a book available on indoor plant care
Name: Yardenman
Maryland (Zone 7a)
Dec 22, 2017 11:47 PM CST
I think the pot has seen it's last days. It is 25 years old and meant for cactuses I no longer grow. Hammer time.

The rootbound snake plants will be cut apart.

I did that with one pot weeks ago and they seem to be in good shape. I got 8 new pots from that one. Probably as many more with this one when I cut in. The dying parts were from leaving it out on the deck a day too long last Winter.

Thanks for permission to break the old pot. I kind of needed that!
Name: Frenchy
Falls Church, VA (Zone 7b)
Container Gardener Dog Lover Houseplants Plant Lover: Loves 'em all! Tomato Heads Hostas
Tropicals Annuals Foliage Fan Aroids Cactus and Succulents Sempervivums
Dec 23, 2017 12:06 AM CST
Go for it Yardenman! Maybe Santa will get you a new pot if you are good. Hilarious! Hilarious! Post a picture after the pot is broken so we can see the roots before you separate them. Smiling

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