The Meyer ferns on the back porch were in a sad state. The fern in the eighteen inch container had never recovered from the frost; there was nothing left but the stubs of dead branches I had cut back a few weeks ago. The other plant in a twenty-four inch pot had a half-dozen new green branches, but the dead stubs of several years' growth threatened to crowd out any newer shoots.
I decided to work on extricating the smaller, dead plant first. I didn't want to just dump out the pot because I wanted to save some of the soil. So I dug in with pruning shears and a trowel, cutting into the roots and pulling them out.
An hour and a half later, I was able to remove the heart of the plant. It took me another hour to cut and pull the rest of the roots and their large nodules. The fern had been rootbound twice over; last summer, this container had replaced one which cracked open from the forceful underground growth.
I couldn't help but find a life lesson as I hacked away on this project for hours. As important as it is to have roots, we cannot afford to become rootbound. Old ways of thinking and doing can become as restrictive as old pots. Every once in awhile, it's good to examine our long-held beliefs and habits, see what fits and what's holding us back. We need to give ourselves room to expand and change and grow.
It may take some pruning, as I did with the other fern, cutting away the dead woody bits and half the root system and separating it into two new plants, with plenty of room for each to grow and spread with fresh new soil and fertilizer to feed them. I left plenty of roots alone, of course, to continue feeding the new growth. We need to feel grounded enough to have the courage to reach for those new ideas and habits.
Are you feeling rootbound? If so, what can you do to change those feelings? What things, beliefs, relationships, situations need to go, and what needs to stay? I'll be thinking about those questions today.