root-bound

adjective

ˈrüt-ˌbau̇nd How to pronounce root-bound (audio)
 also  ˈru̇t-
variants or root bound or rootbound
: having roots formed into a dense, tangled mass that allows little or no space for further growth
These plants have a natural tendency to become root-bound, with their roots growing in a spiralling mass. This condition can be accelerated by tight, clay-like soils and shallow, frequent waterings which encourage corresponding shallow, lateral rooting.Maire Simington
especially, of a potted plant : having roots formed into a dense, tangled mass that encircles the inside of a container and that allows little or no space for further growth : pot-bound
Even if it's root-bound, a plant shouldn't be repotted just as it goes into the dormant season. Tovah Martin
If plants are rootbound and dry out fast, repot into larger containers. Sunset

Examples of root-bound in a Sentence

Recent Examples on the Web Larger plants are often root-bound and grow at a slower rate when transplanted; you’ll be surprised by how quickly your smaller starts will take off. Kristin Guy, Sunset Magazine, 14 Nov. 2023

These examples are programmatically compiled from various online sources to illustrate current usage of the word 'root-bound.' Any opinions expressed in the examples do not represent those of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback about these examples.

Word History

First Known Use

1841, in the meaning defined above

Time Traveler
The first known use of root-bound was in 1841

Dictionary Entries Near root-bound

Cite this Entry

“Root-bound.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/root-bound. Accessed 19 Jul. 2024.

Love words? Need even more definitions?

Subscribe to America's largest dictionary and get thousands more definitions and advanced search—ad free!