Can You Put Your Plant Into a Smaller Pot?

Did you overestimate the size of your plant when you first planted it? Perhaps you bought a plant that you thought would grow more, and now it looks too small for the pot it’s in. Can you put it into a smaller pot?

You can put your plant into a smaller pot if your plant likes a confined root space. If the pot is too large and your plant doesn’t like it, it could cause root rot or other issues with its growth. 

In this article, we will further discuss which kinds of plants are fit for smaller pots and what the advantages of doing so are.

Why Only Certain Plants Can Fit Into Smaller Pots

Smaller pots are only good for those plants that don’t grow that much, or that have a tighter root system. That’s why it’s best to stick to plants like ferns or bamboo trees. If you have any other plants, they should be in a larger pot.

Tall and Thin Plants Can Be Put In Smaller Pots

Depending on their size and shape, some plants can be grown in smaller pots than others. For instance, some tall, skinny plants, such as bamboo or ferns, do well in a small pot because they have a confined root space.

On the other hand, bushy plants with a lot of foliage need more space for the roots to spread out and won’t do as well in a smaller pot.

Most Houseplants Are a Bad Fit For Smaller Pots

If your houseplant is already doing well, it’s best to leave it in its current pot because the soil has already been colonized by beneficial bacteria and fungi that help your plant thrive. When you put your existing houseplants in a smaller pot, you could disrupt the health of the existing root system, leading to stunted growth or even the death of the plant.

Bushy Plants Do Well With Large Pots

If you have a bushy plant, it’s not a good idea to put it in a smaller pot. The roots of these plants need to spread out to support the amount of foliage they have, and if there’s not enough room for them to do this, their growth will be stunted.

A Smaller Pot Is Preferred To Optimize Production Space

Smaller pot sizes are essential for making the best use of production space to get the most out of resources and use them as efficiently as possible.

When production space is optimized, you can make the best use of your limited space and ensure every inch is used as efficiently as possible, which reduces waste and increases greenery, leading to a higher return on investment.

Plants With Shallow Root Systems Are Right Fit For Smaller Pots

The main reason why plants with shallow root systems are best suited for smaller pots is that they don’t take up as much space as plants with deeper root systems. This means the plant’s foliage can be better displayed in a smaller pot.

It also allows for more air to flow around the roots, which is important for healthy root growth. Because of their shallow nature, you don’t have to worry as much about over-watering, as they are generally drought tolerant.

Why Choose a Plant With a Shallow Root System? 

Plants with shallow root systems are generally smaller in size than other plants, so they won’t outgrow their pot quickly. Since most plants tend to grow in height rather than width, having a shallow root system helps keep them from becoming too big for their container.

Since these plants don’t have to reach deep into the ground for their nutrients and water, you do not need to water them as often because they will absorb what is already on the soil’s surface.  

You also don’t need to spend extra money on fertilizer or expensive soil. All you need is some good-quality compost or topsoil mix. So if you want an easy-to-maintain plant that won’t outgrow its pot quickly, then choosing one with a shallow root system is the way to go.  

Types of Plants With Shallow Root Systems

Some of the most common types of plants with shallow root systems include grasses, flowering annuals, perennials, herbs, and vegetables.

Here’s why they do well in small pots:

  • Grasses such as ryegrass tend to grow in clumps with short-lived roots that remain close to the surface.
  • Annuals such as marigolds have short-lived roots that don’t penetrate far below the soil line.
  • Perennials such as daisies tend to stay close to the surface because their roots need access to oxygen at all times.
  • Herbs like basil and parsley stay near the surface due to their need for plenty of sunlight.
  • Vegetables like pepper typically have shallow root systems because they require quick access to nutrients to thrive. 

Advantages of Smaller Pots

While most plants don’t really thrive in small pots, there are some advantages of using them anyway. 

Reduced Cost Due To Using Fewer Resources

By using smaller pots, you can save money and still create a beautiful garden with several types of flowers and plants. Plus, since the plants are in smaller containers, they require less fertilizer and water than those in large pots. 

Increased Efficiency In Plant Care

When you use smaller pots, you will be able to pack more plants into a smaller space and get more mileage out of your limited production space. This can help increase the productivity of your production process.

Plus, when it comes time to move your plants around or replant them in a new container, it’s much easier with smaller pots because they are more lightweight and easier to handle than large ones. 

Better Control Over Plant Growth

By using smaller containers for your plants, you have better control over their growth patterns and health.

Since each plant can only use the soil and water in its container, its growth will be limited to that area. This makes it easier to track the plant’s progress and make sure that all of its parts get the nutrients they need for good health.

And since there’s less room for weeds or pests to hide or thrive in these tiny containers, you won’t have as many issues with unwanted critters taking up residence in your garden.

Things To Consider Before Repotting In a Smaller Pot

Ensure the Plant Is Not Rootbound

It’s important to check if the plant roots have become too big for its current pot. If the roots are crowded and intertwined, it may be time to move them into a larger pot or divide them into multiple smaller pots.

Use Quality Potting Soil and Add Drainage Holes

Using quality, nutrient-rich potting soil is essential for a successful repotting process. Use a soil mix specially designed for the type of plant you are repotting. Providing adequate drainage for your plant is essential. 

Always make sure the pot you are using has drainage holes at the bottom to ensure any excess water can escape.

But at the same time, too many drainage holes can cause problems. If you believe your pot has too many drainage holes causing the soil to dry out quickly, check out my article discussing how to seal drainage holes in plastic pots. The steps discussed should also work for other types of pots: 11 Ways to Seal Drainage Holes in Plastic Pots

Caring For Shallow-Rooted Plants In Smaller Pots

Once you’ve re-potted your plants, there are some things you need to do to keep them healthy and beautiful.

Incorporate a Regular Watering Schedule 

Shallow-rooted plants need regular watering, but not too much. Too little water can cause the plant’s roots to dry out and die. So make sure to give them enough water at least twice a week, depending on the climate and size of the pot.

Use lukewarm water instead of cold water, ensuring the soil doesn’t dry out quickly. You’ll also want to check the soil before watering, and if it feels damp, don’t add more water until it’s dry again. 

For more information, check out my quick guide on watering dry soil: How Dry Should Your Plants Be Before Watering Them?

Fertilize Your Plants Correctly 

Fertilization is an important part of caring for shallow-rooted plants because it helps them absorb nutrients from the soil more effectively. Fertilizers come in all shapes and sizes, so be sure to read labels and follow instructions carefully when applying fertilizer to your plants, as too much fertilizer can burn the roots.

Additionally, try using organic fertilizers whenever possible, as these provide all-natural nutrients without any chemical additives that could harm your plant’s health. 

Common Challenges You Need To Address

Root rot is a common problem for plants with shallow roots that can be caused by overwatering or not enough drainage in the pot. If you notice the leaves turning yellow or brown, this could signify root rot due to excessive moisture in the soil.

To prevent this from happening, make sure there are holes at the bottom of your pot for proper drainage, and always let your soil dry out between waterings. Check for pests such as aphids or mealybugs, which can damage your plant’s health if left unchecked. 


Putting plants in smaller containers is a great way to get the most out of your production space and have more control over how your plants grow. With proper care and attention, you can ensure that your plants get the nutrients they need for optimal growth.

Remember that proper drainage and aeration are essential, as is keeping unwanted pests out of your production area. Use vertical space and buy trellises or netting systems that can be moved to save floor space. 

With the right strategies and some planning, you can get more out of your production space.

Alexander Picot

Alexander Picot is the principal creator of, a website dedicated to gardening tips. Inspired by his mother’s love of gardening, Alex has a passion for taking care of plants and turning backyards into feel-good places and loves to share his experience with the rest of the world.

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