A leggy plant tends to be a part of a plant (or the whole plant) looking skinny and reaching toward an area with potentially more sunlight. When the houseplant begins reaching to the new light source, it becomes a bit awkward looking with little to no leaves on the stem. The new growth for the plant eventually won’t be able to support the leaves since the skinny stem is not strong, which could result in the flower or leaves falling over due to their weight.
So, is legginess a bad sign, and how do you fix a leggy plant? How do you know if a plant is becoming a bit leggy? Why do indoor plants get leggy in the first place?
Here is the complete breakdown of what leggy plants mean.
Is a Leggy Plant a Bad Sign?
In general, leggy houseplants are a sign that they are in an area without enough light to grow healthy and strong. Since every plant needs different amounts of light (or even direct sunlight vs. indirect light), you sometimes see a plant or two in a collection looking leggy while the rest seem perfectly healthy and strong. If a plant is getting leggy, that is a sign that the current environment is not suitable for the plant.
While a little bit of legginess in plants is standard, not treating it and allowing it to linger becomes a problem. Plants that are reaching for more sunlight are displaying that they are not getting enough light for healthy growth, which could cause the plant to wilt. The plant might wilt because it can’t produce enough energy, which results in it not surviving in the long run.
How Do You Fix a Leggy Plant?
The most apparent plant care fix for leggy houseplants is to move them to an area with more sunlight. For example, if a healthy plant that needs hours of direct sunlight is currently in a room lacking sunlight, it will begin to get leggy. To counter that leggy look, you need to move the plant to an area with more light.
After moving the plant to an area with adequate light, you should prune off the leggy stems of the plant. Pruning the leggy stems helps conserve the plant’s total energy, which is essential to get it back to its healthy condition. When pruning the plant, cut back a few inches off the long stem of the plant above the node. By cutting above the node, you won’t restrict the plant’s future growth since the node is where the new growth occurs.
Finally, consider giving the plant water after moving it to an area with sufficient light and pruning it back. Some plants do well with the bottom watering method, so consider doing that, especially if you move the plant to an area with lots of light. The bottom water method can also reduce the risk of damaging plants if you dump water on them from the top, so this is a good strategy for most plants.
Can You Use Artificial Lights / Grow Lights to Fix Leggy Plants?
A grow light is a great way to prevent leggy seedlings and fix leggy plants. If you have spindly-looking plants in your home or apartment due to the lack of natural light, then using a grow light can help fix that problem. Since a lack of light is a common cause for leggy plants, investing in a grow light system can help give plants the light they need to have a healthy photosynthesis process.
Can Leggy Plants Recover?
Leggy plants can recover, but there are some things to consider. First, if your houseplant is showing signs of being leggy during the growing season, you have a better chance of fully recovering it than during the offseason. The growing season is the best time to recover from being leggy because changing the lightning conditions and pruning will result in faster recovery since this is when the most growth occurs.
If you have a leggy plant during the offseason, you should take a more measured approach than during the growing season. Consider putting the plant in an area with more sunlight than where it is currently and only pruning it back a little. You will need to give these plants more time to recover and properly adjust to the new environment than during the growing season.
How Do You Know if a Plant is Leggy?
The most obvious sign that a plant is leggy is by looking at it. If spindly stems shoot up towards the sky or window, it is a clear sign that the plant is looking for more sunlight. Another unmistakable signal that the plant is becoming leggy is if the stems are growing without many leaves on them. You can tell the leggy part of the plant from the rest of the healthy parts simply by how it looks the most different.
Why Do Indoor Plants Get Leggy?
Not all houseplants are the same, which means some need more light and water than others. If you place houseplants that crave lots of direct sunlight in an area with low light, they will become leggy. A common cause for leggy plants is the conditions need to be more conducive to what works best for them.
Another reason indoor plants become leggy is the lack of overall maintenance and pruning. As plants grow during the growing season, they will sometimes grow too big for their own good. By growing too big, they might be unable to support their leaves, which could lead to the flowers falling over and creating stress for the plant. Generally, you should prune back new or existing plants in your home once during the growing season to maintain their healthy look.
Conclusion: What Does Leggy Mean for Plants?
In summary, leggy plants are awkward looking because they reach for more sunlight. As the plant reaches towards the sky, looking for more sunlight, it will look noticeably different from the rest of your plant. When you see this type of reach from your plants, it is a clear sign that the current environment for the plant is not doing well, and something needs to change to create long and healthy growth.
To fix leggy plants, you need to move them to an environment with more sunlight. It is important to place your plants in areas that work best for them so only some plants need the same amount of sun to thrive. Also, consider investing in grow lights if your home or office needs windows to collect natural sunlight. Grow lights can help compensate for the lack of the sun and give plants what they need for photosynthesis.