Do Alocasia Like To Be Root Bound?

The Alocasia plant, also called elephant ears, is a tropical houseplant that makes a stunning statement indoors. Eventually, your Alocasia might start to become rootbound. As a result, you might wonder, “Do Alocasia like to be root bound?”

Alocasia plants like to be slightly rootbound because it mimics their natural environment, promotes foliage growth, and keeps the roots from staying damp and getting root rot. Nevertheless, once your Alocasia gets extremely overcrowded, you may want to consider moving it to a larger container.

Read this article to discover why Alocasia are more likely to thrive if they are slightly rootbound, as well as how to know if your Alocasia needs repotting.

why do alocasia like to be root bound

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Why Do Alocasia Like To Be Root Bound?

1. Mimics Natural Growing Environment

Alocasia plants prefer being slightly root bound because, in nature, Alocasias grow compactly, so allowing them to remain in somewhat root-bound conditions mimics their native environment.

The roots of these plants are tightly packed in with the roots of all the other plants in Southeast Asia and Australia’s tropical rainforests. Thus, wild Alocasias are always slightly rootbound.

In order to keep your Alocasia happy and healthy, it is essential to provide an environment similar to what it would experience in nature.

2. Encourage Foliage Growth

Alocasia plants put a ton of energy into growing their leaves, stems, and roots. But if the roots are tightly confined, they don’t have enough room to stretch out their roots, so instead, they focus their energy on producing more foliage and flowers.

This means that letting your Alocasia grow slightly root bound allows it to invest its energy into producing more foliage and blooms.

By letting your alocasia plant grow slightly root bound, you are giving it the natural habitat it grew in, which is a great way to keep it happy and healthier.

alocasia like to be root bound

3. Prevents Root Rot

Being slightly rootbound means that the plant’s roots keep the soil loose, preventing it from becoming overly damp. This helps prevent root rot, which is caused by excess moisture. A densely potted Alocasia is at greater risk of getting wet and developing root rot.

While using a loose potting mix instead of a dense one helps prevent root rot, being slightly rootbound helps more. You’ll still be able to water your Alocasia regularly without causing problems.

It should be noted, however, that these advantages apply only to slightly rootbound Alocasia plants. Severely root-bound plants have difficulty growing and developing normally.

Plants that have soil displaced from their pots, root systems tangled over each other and root tipping out will have difficulty absorbing water, absorbing nutrients and delivering them. Your plant might even stop growing and eventually deteriorate.

How Do I Know If My Alocasia Is Rootbound?

You’ll know if your Alocasia is severely rootbound because you’ll start seeing some of the symptoms below. If you notice any of those symptoms, it’s probably a good idea to repot your Alocasia.

The first and foremost sign is that the plant‘s roots start to come outside of the drainage holes. The roots expand in search of space, and in doing so, they cause the pot to crack. Plastic pots inflate because of the growing roots pushing the pot from within.

Another common symptom of rootbound Alocasias is that the roots show at the soil’s top. The roots push themselves out to the surface, and the soil becomes thinned.

A third symptom is that the plant begins to lose moisture. The roots get crowded, and the soil drains quickly. As a result, the soil loses its volume, and the water runs off quickly. Rootbound alocasias are prone to dehydration.

Because of the rootbound situation, fertilizers added to the plants wash away quickly before being absorbed by the roots.

When Should I Repot My Alocasia?

Alocasia plants grow very quickly, so if you haven’t repotted them in two or three years, it might be time to give them a fresh start.

You’ll notice that there are several different reasons why you should repot your Alocasia. One of those reasons is that the plant is severely rootbound. As mentioned above, Alocasia plants only like to be slightly root bound. Severely root-bound Alocasia have difficulty growing and developing normally.

Another reason to repot your Alocasias is when you’ve been overwatering your plant. Overwatering causes roots to rot, so it’s important to repot your Alocasia into dry, fresh soil. Find out more about repotting Alocasia with root rot.

The third reason to repot your Alocasia plant is that you’ve been fertilizing them too heavily. Fertilizers cause leaves to yellow and wilt, so it’s important that you stop feeding your Alocasia once it starts showing signs of stress. If simply flushing the soil with water isn’t helping, you need to repot the plant into fresh soil.

Finally, you may find that your current pot is damaged. If you’ve had your Alocasia in the same pot for a long time, it’s probably time to replace it.

Best Time To Repot Alocasia

You can repot your Alocasia any time of year, but spring and summer are ideal. Spring and summer are when the plant is in its growth phase, making it easier to transplant. If you wait until fall or winter, the plant will be slower to recover after being moved. However, if you notice signs of root rot, you may want to repot anyway. Otherwise, you may end up with a sickly plant that won’t thrive.

Your alocasia may experience transplant shock if you don’t handle it carefully. Transplant shock occurs when the roots of a plant are disturbed during repotting. As a result, the plant loses its leaves and stops growing. You can prevent transplant shock by gently removing the soil from the container without damaging the roots. Then, place the plant in fresh potting medium and water thoroughly.

alocasia root bound

How To Repot A Rootbound Alocasia

If you notice that your Alocasia plant has become severely rootbound, you must follow certain steps to prevent it from dying. Plan to repot your plant as soon as you see roots emerging from the drainage holes and soil surface. Pick a pot about 2 inches wider than the current one.

Firstly, trim the overgrown roots that protrude out of the drainage hole. Bring the plant out by turning the pot upside down. Rootbound plants whose roots are stuck to the pot and cannot be pulled out can be freed by gently patting the bottom or sides of the pot.

As soon as you take out the Alocasia, shake the roots gently to loosen them up. Prune any dead or rotten roots carefully. Ensure that the pruners are sterilized before and after trimming the roots.

Next, choose a light, well-drained, and nutrient-rich potting mix. This requires equal amounts of perlite, coarse sand, and peat to make the soil light and rich in nutrients. Halfway fill the pot with soil. Place the Alocasia gently on the soil, then add more soil around it. Make sure the soil settles by tapping gently on the sides of the pot.

When you are finished repotting the Alocasia, put it in a bright and well-lit area away from direct sunlight. Repotting puts your plant in a vulnerable position, so direct sunlight can burn its leaves. Water the plant to help it settle in and reduce transplant shock.

Watch the plant closely, and don’t disturb it for a few days. Plants would initially stay droopy and wilted after repotting because repotting causes a great deal of stress. However, it should be back to normal after a few days.

Frequently Asked Questions

Do Alocasia like deep pots?

Alocasias love deep pots! Their roots tend to grow long, so they need ample space to move around. With deep pots, the Alocasias will grow to their maximum potential and you won’t have to repot them for a few years.

Here’s a simple guideline to follow: for larger varieties, you’ll need to plant them in 8″ deep pots. For smaller varieties, you’ll need 4–6″ deep pots.

To keep them healthy, water them deeply once a week. Keep the top inch of the soil dry. Watering too frequently can cause root rot.

Do Alocasia like smaller pots?

Alocasia plants like to be slightly rootbound in smaller pots. As long as you give them enough depth to spread out, they’ll be fine.

Small pots are great for growing Alocasia because they can focus their energy on producing more foliage and flowers. They also grow compactly in nature, so allowing them to remain in somewhat root-bound conditions mimics their native environment. Small pots also help prevent root rot, which is caused by excess moisture.

Are alocasia roots sensitive?

Alocasias are susceptible to root rot and fungus infections if their soil doesn’t drain properly. Soil that is waterlogged will cause problems for your Alocasia plant. You may notice yellow leaves, brown spots on the leaves and wilted foliage.

That’s why it’s important to keep your Alocasias in a container with a drainage hole or self-watering planter that allows for optimal air exchange to the roots.

How do I know if my Alocasia needs repotting?

You should repot your Alocasia plant every two years or so. Signs that your plant needs repotting include obvious roots on the surface of your soil or roots growing out of the drainage holes of your pots. Another reason your Alocasia needs repotting is root rot from overwatering.

The best time to repot your Alocasia is during spring and early summer when conditions are favorable. Don’t wait until fall or winter because the weather may not be warm enough for your plant to thrive.