Asked on Oct 14, 2017

How do you remove a large rootbound ficus tree from a huge ceramic pot

by Cha17778244
  10 answers
  • Karen Karen on Oct 14, 2017

    The first solution that comes to my mind is the most obvious: break the pot! If you hope to salvage the pot, I'd soak the soil well, then run a long, slender blade if some kind -- maybe a bread knife -- all around the inside edge of pot...roots may be ki d of "glued" to the sides despite a glazed finish on the pot.

    Then ease the pot onto its side, maybe on a tarp over grass to protect the pots finish and roll pot however vigorously you can. Most plant experts say don't pull a tree or other plant by its stem or trunk. But, you may have to in order to break the hold of roots on the pot.

    Of you decide to do this, I'd grab it as close to soil level, or even below soil level, and pull gently. Keep hose handy and try to wash some of the soil out from around the roots. Roll, tug, water, repeat.

    If there are drainage holes in bottom of pot, I'd try flushing soil from there, too, via forcing water into holes if possible. If you can get the pot to release at all, concentrate further efforts in that area.

    I would expect this whole effort to take a lot of patience and time. And water to loosen soil from the roots.

  • Johnavallance82 Johnavallance82 on Oct 14, 2017

    Run a Bread Knife around the entire Pot then turn on side and poke through holes to release. Maybe knock on sides and pull plant out......

  • Linda Sikut Linda Sikut on Oct 14, 2017

    I've been researching your issue and basically what Kathy said is right on. The only other suggestion that I thought had merit was to use something like a bread knife to cut straight down the side of the planter to free the roots. If the bottom is filled with a lot of circular roots, they should separated or cut off because they are binding the tree and can eventually kill it. Once you get the plant out of the pot, take the time to separate the roots. If you have to wash off the dirt, that' is okay. Use clean dirt in the new pot. Put dirt in the new pot then water it so you know it's wet at the bottom. Put in the tree and spread out the roots that are left on the plant. Add more dirt to fill the pot making sure the crown of the tree is at ground level or slightly above. Water the whole thing some more and feed it your favorite fertilizer. Watch the tree closely over the next few weeks to make sure it has enough water. It may need more as the roots start growing. Hope that little extra helps. Best of luck with your tree and it's pot.

  • Jonquil Roberts Jonquil Roberts on Oct 14, 2017

    Water until soaking wet wait a while then water again until it is soggy. cut off any big roots and pull like mad this does not harm the tree

  • Barbara Baldwin Barbara Baldwin on Oct 14, 2017

    May I ask the reason it needs to be removed? Weeping ficus is my favorite indoor plant.

  • Linda Sikut Linda Sikut on Oct 15, 2017

    You're welcome!

  • Linda Sikut Linda Sikut on Oct 19, 2017

    You're welcome. Good luck!

  • Deejay-Roshni Tod Deejay-Roshni Tod on Sep 27, 2020

    Help please

    Want to get out dead root bound yucca from large round potter that I want to keep.

    • Margaret Margaret on Oct 12, 2020

      I have the exact same issue but my yucca is alive. I want to keep the pot but not the yucca. the trunk is large about 8". the only thing I can think of is digging around it (totally root bound) to remove all possible dirt, sawing off the trunk to below pot lip and tipping the pot upside down on top of large rocks to elevate from ground and then keep wetting the soil to hopefully release it. The pot is a cement type pot that was expensive and want to reuse it.

  • Louise Talaico MacKenzie Louise Talaico MacKenzie on Jun 12, 2022

    I want to remove a large potted ficus tree from a large pot and plant it in the ground without killing the tree or breaking the pot. I have read the above suggestions and find them helpful. I cannot physically handle the plant but can direct someone to do it. Are there recommendations for how and hen and where to plant this tree (north/south side of house/in the shade/in the sun, etc) when I get it removed?

  • Helena Helena on Oct 18, 2023

    Here are good steps:

    Loosen Up: Gently tap the pot's sides and bottom to loosen the compacted soil and roots.

    Extra Care: If the tree resists, don’t force it! Pour some water to moisten the soil, making it more pliable. You can also use a knife or spatula to carefully run along the inside perimeter of the pot, detaching roots from the pot's sides.

    Liberation: Once the tree starts to come out, gently lay it down and assess the rootball. Trim any circling or overly dense roots to encourage healthy growth when repotting. You can also use the simple tips in this post to help your plant grow further.