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When can a plant not be pot bound?

This might be naive here but have a look at this sage-



Clearly massively pot bound after a year. My question is, are you supposed to just keep re-potting plants into bigger and bigger containers in such a relatively short space of time?

Reason being, I'd rather keep some of the herbs I've got in smaller pots. Can I do that without this happening or do you really have to reach a size of pot where the plant won't really grow much more?

Any time I've potted plants like this I've followed the general rules for going 1 container size up- doesn't seem enough though!

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  • K67K67 Leicestershire Posts: 2,507
    Not surprised the plant looks unhappy!
    Usually with plants when they get too big you just take off a few inches of soil and replace but I am talking about expensive plants.
    Herbs aren't dear to buy so why not replace every other year or divide and repot. Can't advise on taking cuttings of sage as I have never bothered with this method.





  • AnniDAnniD Posts: 9,670
    Personally, (and this is only what l would do), l would saw that rootball in half and repot it in fresh compost in the same pot.
  • Dirty HarryDirty Harry Posts: 994
    K67 said:
    Not surprised the plant looks unhappy!
    Usually with plants when they get too big you just take off a few inches of soil and replace but I am talking about expensive plants.
    Herbs aren't dear to buy so why not replace every other year or divide and repot. Can't advise on taking cuttings of sage as I have never bothered with this method.





    I was going to get rid of it anyway and free up a pot. It never looked the best even when it was in good health, powdery mildew being a massive PITA and number of times I used any leaves in cooking last year anyway? Zero.

    Can it be fine to break the 'one container size up' rule? As it is, something like that would need re-potted less than every year.
  • JennyJJennyJ DoncasterPosts: 6,150
    Could you plant it in the ground?
  • herbaceousherbaceous E. BerksPosts: 2,278
    Me too @AnniD, great believer in root pruning any vigorous perennial herbs. I usually take a half dozen cuttings at the same time just to future proof.
    "The trouble with having an open mind, of course, is that people will insist on coming along and trying to put things in it."  Sir Terry Pratchett
  • Dirty HarryDirty Harry Posts: 994
    edited April 2019
    JennyJ said:
    Could you plant it in the ground?
    Don't have the space. Already struggling with all the cottage garden plants I want.

    I've grown foxgloves from seed and only have room for less than half the things! Feels like such a waste.
  • LynLyn DevonPosts: 19,944
    I’d do the same as Anni says, cut the root across the middle then chop the plant downwards, tease it out to loosen the roots and repot. You could even make three plants from that.  Either that or teas out the roots and put the whole lot in the open ground. 
    Sage is very hardy, mine’s been in for years. 
    Gardening on the wild, windy west side of Dartmoor. 

  • AnniDAnniD Posts: 9,670
    I must admit to only keeping my potted herbs for a year, l find it's easier just to replace with fresh ones. Like K67, l have never tried taking cuttings from sage.
  • BobTheGardenerBobTheGardener Leicestershire, UKPosts: 11,336
    Woody herbs like sage and rosemary are hardy shrubs so much better off in the ground and often don't do well in pots, so I would keep your pots for 'soft' herbs instead.  Plants can be kept in pots for several years, even if root-bound, as long as you water and feed them properly.  Judicious pruning (incuding root pruning) helps.
    A trowel in the hand is worth a thousand lost under a bush.
  • LynLyn DevonPosts: 19,944
    Last year I bought a pot of parsley from morrisons, 99p,  I can’t think how many plants it made,  I had 6 in the garden, my daughter had some and the rest I dumped, not worth sowing seeds for that.  All six plants survived the winter and are growing there well, not sure if they had sage, didn’t look as I have big plants.  I like to let them flower, the bees go mad for them. 
    Gardening on the wild, windy west side of Dartmoor. 

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