Danger of becoming root-bound. A lesson from the flowers

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There were a few flowers in the kitchen that were seriously over-do repotting, so today was the day when I finally took time to do some indoor-gardening. Flowers in a pot need to be repotted regularly, otherwise they will become root-bound, which apparently is also sometimes called potbound. Basically what happens is that roots grow so much that most of the soil has been replaced with roots. Externally the plant may look like it’s doing okay, but it will not be receiving nutrients it needs and it will not be able to absorb water, so it’s almost like throwing water into an empty well. Eventually, if the plant is not repotted, it will whiter.

Let me show you how that looks. As you can see this one has been pretty seriously root-bound, whereas on the outside it looks like it’s doing fine. (this is the same plant as the one in the above picture)

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Here is another one that was in even worse condition, I don’t even know how it managed to keep growing until now. I must say it was quite difficult to hold it like this, the roots have become so tangled that they were in fact heavy.

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So what did I do? When a plant is root-bound like this, what we need to do is loosen the roots by removing a lot of it. Mostly it can be done simply by tearing the roots with hands, I hardly ever need to use scissors. It will be like setting the plant free to be able to breathe again, so I did that.

See, it looks much better now.
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Then, I put the plant in the fresh new soil in the same pot. I also added some nutrients. Sometimes the pot will no longer be suitable and the plant will need a bigger one; some of the plants I replanted today I did put it a bigger pot. At the end of the whole process each of the plants looked much healthier.

Looking good, doesn’t it?
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Wait, this is not the end of the post (just yet). I love to learn from flowers and I always somehow intuitively knew that this phase in particular when a plant is root-bound had something to teach us, but I never knew exactly what. Until today. What would for us people mean that we have a danger of becoming root-bound? Well, it would have to be something interior that needs to change; something perhaps even invisible. If we focus on the exterior, we won’t achieve much. I did clip the dry beaches regularly with those flowers, watered them every few days, and they looked alright, they were surviving, but they were not really fully healthy until I untangled the roots and gave them fresh soil. Externals in this case won’t be enough, and the food that comes through them will not hold, we won’t really be getting the full benefit of it. In this case what we’d need to do is find out what interiorly is holding us back, find if there was a way to deal with it, to address it. Hopefully this would create a potential to become like a flower in a new soil, free(er) inside, ready to grow, thrive and blossom in ways we were not able to until now. This gives a totally different meaning to a quote from Rumi, “Maybe you are searching among the branches, for what only appears in the roots”. Maybe whetever we are searching for is not outside, ‘in the branches’, in our thoughts and actions, maybe it is inside, in the roots, in our heart and soul, wrapped in our attitudes.

© Iva Beranek (Dublin, 1st April 2015)
All the photos by © Iva Beranek

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6 thoughts on “Danger of becoming root-bound. A lesson from the flowers

  1. This is a wonderfully insightful way of approaching what may be holding me back. I strive to follow the seasons, the Wheel of the Year, but I never consider – or if I have, I’ve not considered deeply enough – what is beneath the surface. I know that I definitely need to understand what is blocking me from doing some of the most important things and yet, somehow I don’t do them.
    Thank you for the eye-opening post.

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