Leggy Houseplant

Common Plant Issues: Stretching

LiveTrends • April 01, 2022 • 2 min read

Leggy stems, spaced-out leaves and pale color call for extra vitamin D.

Is your plant looking a little overextended these days? Plants tend to grow in the direction of the nearest light source, and when doing so still doesn’t provide them enough sunshine, they can stretch out to reach for more. So, if your plant’s stems are lengthening and the gaps between leaves looking larger than usual, here’s what to do next.

How to Spot Plant Stretching

These signs are your houseplant’s way of telling you to scooch them closer to the window, please.

  • Elongated growth in the direction of a light source
  • Long spaces between the leaves or leaf nodes
  • New growths that appear weak
  • Leaning or growing toward one side
  • Pale leaves that used to be vibrant

Treat Your Plant

Solutions for this common plant issue are simple. Of course, the first step to fixing houseplant stretching is providing more light.

  • Research the amount of light that’s right for your plant. Find a new place in your home and relocate it immediately.
  • To restore your plant to the right shape or size, use sharp, clean plant shears to trim any funky, elongated growth.

Practice Prevention

Preventing stretching is all about keeping your plant’s light needs top-of-mind, and knowing which varieties will do best in certain areas of your home.

  • Before buying a new plant and bringing it home, research the light levels it needs to survive. If you have a specific place in mind where you want to add a plant, search for types that will thrive in that light level.
  • Identify which windows in your house face north, south, east and west. Plants that thrive in high light will do well in southern, eastern, and western-facing windows, while low light loving plants will prefer one to the north.
  • Look up whether your plant is a variety that needs to be rotated. Plants that grow toward the light should be rotated every couple of weeks to promote even growth.

While it can take some time to bounce back in its new, well-lit home, your plant should recover just fine from its stretching attempts. Just be sure to prune it slowly over time and continue its usual watering and fertilizing routine. In due time, it will look better than ever.

Caring for Your Plant

Caring for your plant will keep it happy and strong. Find out how to avoid the most common issues.

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