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I think I read somewhere about rearranging plant's roots in certain ways within the soil inside a pot to make it think it's growing in a larger space, and as a result let it grow bigger, as if it was planted in a large pot. I don't remember any details, and what I've tried so far hasn't shown significant results, so I'd like to know if it's even possible to achieve this effect − make the plant grow larger without increasing the soil volume.

I think one of the ways was to make horizontal layers where water would accumulate like on the bottom of the pot, effectively increasing the number of "bottoms" inside a pot, but I couldn't create such a structure at home.

Ultimately what I want to achieve is to grow larger plants on a small balcony (or window sill) with limited space for pots.

Currently I have two citrus plants growing at their limit of 1.5m (5ft), due to available soil in their pots, 20cm (8in) deep, 20cm (8in) wide, and I'm also planning on planting golden raspberry and almond from seeds. My available sill space is 80cm (31in) by 20cm (8in), and ~2m (~6.5ft) in height, and the balcony space is roughly 20cm (8in) by 4m (13ft), but the cold days have started and I've moved the only 2 pots I care about to the sill. I'd like to at least grow the almond seeds now and repot them closer to spring into bigger pots, and then maybe move them to the country house's grounds next year. We'll see how that goes.

  • Hi! While Bamboo is right that the size of most plants is directly related to the amount of soil, some plants use less soil in general, so you do have options. What do you want to grow? What's the size of your space? A picture of the area you have available, with the general measurements, would be very helpful. By larger, do you mean the plant has to be taller and wider, or would long and narrow, like a vine plant, be okay? Also, what have you already tried? Thanks! – Sue Saddest Farewell TGO GL Oct 15 '16 at 14:16
  • I have two citrus plants growing at their limit of 1.5m due to available soil in their pots (20cm deep, 20cm wide), and I'm also planning on planting golden raspberry and almond from seeds. Available sill space is 80cm by 20cm (and ~2m in height), and balcony space is roughly 20cm by 4m but the cold days have started and I've moved the only 2 pots I care about to the sill. I'd like to at least grow the almond seeds now and repot them closer to spring into bigger pots, and then maybe move them to the country house's grounds next year. We'll see how that goes. – user1306322 Oct 15 '16 at 16:22
  • Thanks for all that information. I added it right into the question so the experts here would see it all in one place. If you think of anything else that might be helpful, just press on the gray "edit" button under the question. It will open back up and you can add it there. – Sue Saddest Farewell TGO GL Oct 15 '16 at 22:44
  • @Sue I know I've been a SE user for many years, but I didn't think that information was central to my question. Just thought you might have some advice so I shared it with you in the comments. – user1306322 Oct 16 '16 at 5:15
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    Hey, don't sweat it :) It's just a text question on the internet. You're doing great work, so keep it up and don't worry that much. Imperial units are a useful addition for everyone to get a better idea of the space. – user1306322 Oct 17 '16 at 1:27
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You can't - roots need to grow, and as they grow, the plant grows. If the roots run out of room, then the plant doesn't get bigger. Try using tall, narrow pots, something like long tom pots, on the balcony - more room for roots with a much smaller footprint.

  • When I was repotting my mint plants, I noticed that a very large portion of roots has grown at the bottom, as if the plant wanted to get all the water where it was accumulating. And above that area the soil was mostly without roots. That's what made me think about root manipulation. Maybe roots "think" they're out of space but I could move them around to create more space to grow down (or to areas of accumulating water) while keeping the existing root mass moisturized enough to prevent root loss. – user1306322 Oct 15 '16 at 12:45
  • Ah well, mint is a deep rooter - it naturally wants to go down, then spread out rhizomes sideways - in the soil, those rhizomes will produce growth anything up to a foot or two away from the main plant. Nature of the beast, mint's not a great subject to use as an example for root behaviour, not all plants do this. – Bamboo Oct 15 '16 at 12:53

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