Are You Stimulating or Stunting Growth?

Are your houseplants stunted? Are you limiting their growth by keeping them in a small pot?

BBC Nature reports a fascinating story entitled, “‘Stunted’ Pot Plants Cannot Reach Their Full Potential” from the Society for Experimental Biology’s annual meeting in Salzburg, Austria. Researcher Hendrik Poorter with the Julich Research Centre in Germany found that houseplants “sense the size of the pot” and grow accordingly. As soon as he saw the results of this study he immediately repotted all his plants. “I thought, you poor guys, what have I done to you?”

Poorter and his researchers used MRI scans to see root development and correlated that with plant growth. They found that a plant’s roots quickly stretched out when first planted or repotted. But “when they reach the edge, they sent some kind of signal to the shoots to say, ‘there’s a problem — stop growing.’” Their experiments on 80 different species showed that doubling a pot’s size caused the plant to grow 50% larger. “The surprising thing is that there seemed to be no end to the pot limitation,” Poorter reported.

The same thing happens in leadership and coaching. People respond to the size of their perceived boundaries — real or imagined. Extraordinary coaches help “coachees” endlessly repot themselves and keep growing.


For over 30 years, Jim Clemmer’s practical leadership approaches have been inspiring action and achieving results. He has delivered thousands of keynote presentations, workshops, and management team retreats to hundreds of organizations around the globe moving his audiences from inspiration to application. He’s listed in the World’s Top 30 Most Influential Leadership Gurus based on research with 22,000 global business people, consultants, academics and MBAs. His website is

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