I have a plastic, rectangular planter with a variety of plants. I recently added a new plant to an empty spot, and found that the region was already thick with root fibers from the other plants in the planter, and starting to cluster thickly around the edges.

I saw the question about pruning rootbound plants, and don't want my planter to end up like that. But, since this is a planter, i can't just pull out the whole thing and prune the roots. How do I keep the roots of my plants from becoming overgrown and fighting with each other in a planter?

1 Answer 1


There are at least two approaches to solving this.

  1. Completely remove the portion of soil where the new plant will go cutting all roots and replace with new plant + soil.

  2. Add "dividers" to your planter to compartmentalize the growing areas of your plants. This can be something solid like wood or flexible like weed-block

Neither of these solve the fundamental problem. Your other plants are growing and sending out their roots, if you reduce their root space you are restricting their growth. Plants want to grow. If you want them all to grow bigger you will need a bigger planter or to supplement for reduced root size with more nutrients. If you want all of the plants to stay similar in size restricting their root size will restrict their growth.

  • I am operating on a balcony here so replacing the soil means buying a new bag of potting soil - can I use the existing soil but chop it up?
    – Jonathan
    Commented May 10, 2012 at 6:16
  • The roots may have sucked out the nutrients from the soil. If the roots are sparse no problem, soil is probably fine. If there are a lot of roots in that soil consider amending the soil with some compost or nutrient rich material since the soil may have been depleted.
    – Shinyosan
    Commented May 11, 2012 at 21:43
  • Thanks! I think I'll try some dividers. I'd like for them to be able to grow bigger, but I have limited space in my planter here, and I'd prefer more variety over bigger plants.
    – Jonathan
    Commented May 12, 2012 at 19:49

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