What is a leggy plant?
A leggy plant is one that’s got a lot more stem than leaf. It’s not something you want to encourage, so find out how to correct it.
You may have heard a plant described as ‘leggy’ and wondered what it meant. It’s a common term for a plant that’s grown very tall, but with few leaves. For some plants, this is simply part of their nature, but it’s often a sign a plant isn’t getting enough light.
Let’s get into it properly.
Why do plants become leggy?
If a plant has become ‘leggy’ it usually means it’s growing so that it has really long stems, with just a few leaves on the top.
As plants grow they look for light. If they’re in a spot that’s bright enough for them they’ll be getting all the light they need and will grow normally. If they’re living in too little light they’ll start hunting for more.
Plants assume that they’ll find more light by growing straight up, because that’s where the sun should be, so they’ll grow long stems in an effort to reach the light. If they start bending over, it’s probably because they’re trying to grow toward a window.
Is legginess always caused by light?
Not always. For indoor plants, it’s usually light. Some outdoor plants may become leggy if you don’t prune them yearly.
Each year, plants begin a new growth cycle. If you didn’t trim them back at the end of the last growth cycle, your plants may just carry on where they left off, growing new leaves on already long stems. Check your outdoor plant’s page to see if it needs yearly pruning.
Is legginess bad for your indoor plant?
Yes. It’s a sign your plant is desperate for light. If it stays in a spot where the light is too low it will become weak and may eventually die.
How do you stop leggy growth?
It’s really easy to stop a plant becoming leggy, or to help it stop creating more leggy growth: put it somewhere with the right level of light.
If a plant has become leggy, move it a little bit closer to a window. Don’t take it right from deep shade to bright sun – this will cause shock – but move it gradually. Keep an eye on its condition over several weeks and see if it improves.
Depending on the plant, you may also want to prune off leggy stems, so the plant can put its energy into new growth.
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