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Why Is My Pothos So Leggy? (Causes+What To Do)

Pothos with beautiful vines trailing down covering as much area they have access to. They have variegated leaves, marble, or yellow shades on lustrous green foliage. Vining plants like pothos usually get leggy due to several factors. Let us learn more about why is your pothos leggy and what can you do about it.

A lack of adequate lighting can make your pothos leggy. If your pothos is kept in bright direct sunlight, then its leaves will burn, and if they are kept at low light conditions, they will become leggy and droopy. Providing moderate indirect light is the key to a bushier pothos. Keep your pothos 2-3 feet away from the window.

Pothos like good light, sufficient watering schedule, occasional pruning, and adequate fertilizing. They don’t ask for much attention. When you fail to fulfill these basic needs, which are crucial for bushier pothos, you get leggy ones in return.

They can be made super bushy whenever you want. It’s never too late, which brings us to the point about how we can reconstruct long-legged vines to a fuller, bigger, and more abundant leaves and stems.

The prime step should be identifying the causes, which will make it easier for you and us to decide the right treatment. Let us get into the causes, solutions, and more about leggy pothos right away.


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Why is my pothos leggy?

Leggy plants have 1-2 feet space between their leaves. Pothos get leggy and look uneven and spindly due to lack of energy and nutrients in the soil to support existing growth and stimulate new growth.

The leading reason could be inadequate light due to which the vines of pothos are stretching towards the light source.

Apart from that, irregular pruning, not enough fertilizer, etc. are a few other reasons for pothos legginess.

Pothos don’t grow leggy very quickly, they must have struggled a lot with given conditions.

They can be incredibly large and bushier plants, though indoor pothos is tamer versions.

But if your pothos is spindly and tall and not bushy, providing adequate care is the first step you need to take.

Pothos get leggy as they stretch vines towards the light due to insufficient exposure to sunlight. It’s a way to keep growing without expending extraneous energy.

The parts of pothos not getting enough light will become bald after a point because they need light to grow massive leaves, photosynthesize, produce energy, and grow new leaves.

If you are one of those houseplant owners who are excessively feeding their pothos to see them mature quickly with massive and bushier foliage, you need to stop.

An overdose of fertilizer will accelerate pothos to speed up their growth, becoming tall and weak.

Overdoing anything will make your pothos weak due to which the leaves, especially the older ones in the lower part, fall and never re-grow. No leaves in the lower part make pothos look leggy and odd.

If you want larger leaves having it on trellis or stake is to encourage bottom leaves. If you want hanging leaves, you will notice leaves getting smaller as they get down.

Also read: How much light do pothos need? All question answered

How to fix leggy pothos?

The solution to your leggy pothos is reviewing the mistakes you are doing while caring for your pothos. Acting right and quick, both are important to stop your pothos further getting lanky and spindly. 

Pothos grow denser as long as they have nutrients, light, and the right amount of water. 

For fuller-looking pothos, we have some easy and quick fixes with details for you. The measures you need to take to fix your pothos are:

  • Pruning
  • Fixing light
  • Adequate fertilizer
  • Maintaining temperature
  • Propagating the plant


Pruning

Pothos Pruning, Propagation & General Care Tips

Pruning any plant is necessary; they help to keep your plant in shape and confine the length.

Pothos vines look really ugly and uneven when they get leggy. The first step to control overly tall and to encourage bushier vines is through pruning.

For fuller pothos, you can prune the stems stretching out and down to facilitate new growth at the top of the plant.

Look for any leafless vines to get rid of them altogether; they never regrow any new leaves.

Prune each vine till your pothos look pleasing to you. You can go slowly with pruning by 20% pruning at a time, saving your pothos from shock.

Pruning improves the soil’s functioning by reducing the load from the soil and root to support its leaves and stems.

Sometimes, due to lack of nutrients, the soil’s pressure increases, making the whole plant weak and foliage appearing leggy.

Before using shears, sterilize them to save pothos from getting contaminated with any bacteria.

Use gloves to avoid any irritation in the skin due to the toxic sap panning out when pruned. Now start from the top first and gradually go at the lower parts of the plant.

Fixing light

Pruning helps to control legginess, but if you don’t give your pothos ample light exposure to all parts of the plant, they will again grow straggly.

To identify light issues, check the color of pothos leaves; if they seem yellowish and pale, lighting is the prime issue.

You want to keep your pothos under proper light exposure but should be filtered for bushier pothos.

Enough natural indirect sun for 10-12 hours is all your pothos need for denser growth, better variegation, and thicker leaves.

You can have your pothos back bushier with proper lighting exposure.

You can place your pothos near west, east, or south-facing windows or balconies; they will usually get 10-12 hours of light in such places.

No matter which direction you have placed your pothos, they should do fine as long as they are getting enough filtered light.

Pothos should get the correct amount of light all around it, not just on one side. That will encourage its growth and retain the variegation on the leaves.

If the light is deficient, whether natural or artificial, in such conditions, pothos will use its reserved energy and nutrients to push itself towards the light. They will grow sparse foliage giving your pothos a non-sculpted aspect.

Due to uneven light source, your pothos will appear lanky on one part and bald or no growth on the other known to be etiolation.

For fulfilling the light needs of pothos, you can simply place it to a brighter location and rotate them every few weeks for equal distribution of light. Keep under a shade or use sheer curtains to reduce the intensity of the direct sun.

For freezing, zones don’t keep or hang pothos in a way than its foliage touches the window. The leaves will turn brown due to continuous moisture on them.

You can nurture your pothos with grow light in freezing weather or dark areas to ensure enough light.

Adequate fertilizer

Pothos are not dependent completely on fertilizer for their growth. But for bushier growth in pothos, the right dosage and the proper gap between fertilizing is vital.

You can only identify through your past actions what you need to amend. Plants get weak and discolor when suffering from a lack of nutrients.

They will not tolerate over-fertilizing as well as under fertilizing.

Dodging the right dose of fertilizer in the growing season might affect or slow their growth. It affects the density and growth rate of pothos.

Organic or all-purpose fertilizer, whichever you like, can be used to feed your pothos with sufficient nutrients.

Dilute fertilizer with the labeled dosage. Feed your pothos with the solution for even supply to the roots and soil every month once.

Compost is another choice; you can add it to the soil. Every time you water your pothos, they will add more nutrients to the pothos. Fertilizing promotes bigger leaves.

If you have fed them in spring through summer, you can save your fertilizer for the next summer season.

Let your pothos rest their growth in the dormant season. This doesn’t mean the plant will not grow, but the growth rate naturally slows down during winters, so there is no need to panic.

Your pothos will remain bushier as they have been fed and nurtured with fertilizer and other needs. They will hold on to their leaves and are rich in nutrients from within throughout winter and autumn.

Maintaining temperature

Consider your pothos temperature needs just like yours. It is as relevant as other conditions for the denser plant.

Fix the temperature levels around your pothos as soon as possible.

Firstly check the level and other related requirements of your pothos for a better solution.

If the area’s temperature level is below 55 degrees Fahrenheit, immediately fix by moving your plant to a brighter and high-temperature area.

If the low-temperature level is due to the winter season, use a heat pump or wooden forge to manipulate the cold temperature level and save pothos from the dry air.

It will once again facilitate their growth and prevent further unnecessary spacing between the leaves.

Keep your pothos outdoors in colder regions for better exposure to light during the day time and will help to adjust temperature levels also.

For areas with high-temperature levels, mist around your pothos, or use a humidifier, you reduce and dominate the heat in the atmosphere.

Propagating the plant

Pruning your healthy houseplants can feel bad for a new hobbyist, and throwing those cuttings away is another mini heart attack.

You can avoid these attacks in the future by using these cuttings to make your pothos bushier.

You do need to prune your pothos but do not need to dispose of them at all. Instead, use those leggy vines to make your existing pothos bushier as well as grow the number of pothos.

Cut just below the nodes from each of the vines. Now go along the stem and cut each node, so you cut off each of the leaves to get the leaves and stem.

Now you can put these cuttings in water or moss. When they have grown some roots, you can repot them in your existing pothos. You can also let them grow in water if you like.

The process is not as fast as it feels while reading here; it will take quite some time for these vines to regrow new leaves. But one thing that is guaranteed is that they will get busier this time.

Take good care of your pothos this time; all the other terms need to be fulfilled for denser pothos. If winter is around, don’t expect too much or speedy growth, it will take more time than usual in such weather.

Be patient and sensitive; you will soon see your pothos flourishing with fresh and huge leaves. By establishing the cuttings back in the pothos, you can make them bushier instantly. They will cover bald areas and leggy vines appearing bushy.

TIP: Propagate when you have watered your pothos, they get a good chance to soak up the moistness from the soil; that’s your prime time to propagate.

Also read: Step-by-step propagation guide of pothos

How to prune a leggy pothos?

Leggy pothos is easy to fix by merely pruning them. They grow aerial roots in no time after pruning. To shed those stems to make them bushier, you need some tools:

  • Pruning shears
  • Hand trowel
  • Watering can
  • Liquid fertilizer or compost
  • Garden gloves

Pruning encourages a happier and bushier pothos. You are supposed to trim your pothos, and there are no particular instructions about when to prune. Just prune whenever you like and how you like your pothos to look like.

Usually, you will find stems to thin out from the point they are getting leggy. 

You can see a node where the growth starts significantly smaller, and an empty node can be seen. Just cut right below the large leaf you want to leave on your pothos.

You can cut the stems using shears up to the length you need or want. 

Cut just below the node (between two leaves); only new roots will grow from here. 

The stem of the pothos you cut from will grow new leaves from the side, not from the side you cut but shoot out from the other side.

If your pothos has two parts, one bushier and another bare or no growth, prune the bushier side and plant those cuttings in the bald side of the plant.

After done with the pruning, water your pothos to keep the soil moist and save from drought conditions. They will soon put on new growth. 

You can get as many cuttings as you want; this doesn’t really shock pothos. Within 2-3 months, you will get bushier plants. Keep the soil of pothos moist for at least 2-3 weeks after replanting the cuttings.

Fertilize your pothos if you haven’t for a long time with organic fertilizer and use it in liquid form. 

Sterilize used a pair of shears.


If you are looking to buy a lot of houseplants to brighten up your space and that too on a budget, try out Cellardoorplants. They offer a wide variety of plants, delivered right to your doorstep, and that too for every budget. If you haven't checked them yet, Try them now!


How to keep pothos from getting leggy?

My Secret to Bushy and Longer Money Plant (Pothos)

The straightforward way to prevent leggy pothos is by regularly pruning with some plan. You can just trim off long-legged vines of pothos only without following any specific process.

Dispose of those extra stems. Ideally, find where the growth starts smaller and cut from that spot. Pruning will promote new growth by giving soil more energy to support further growth.

You can also prune with some attention by cutting just above the nodes. Cut as much as you want. Root those cuttings in the water and then replant them in the same pot you got cuttings from. That will instantly make your pothos bushier and prevent legginess.

You need to expose all the parts of your pothos to bright light during the daytime. It will promote even growth from all sides of the plant and also stimulate new growth through the stems without long spacing.

Water your pothos when they are scorched without letting them stay dry for too long. Keep a check on your pothos soil every 4-5 days by sticking a finger in the top few inches of the soil. When you feel it’s dry, water them.

Do not replant your pothos too often; let them root-bound. They get bushier this way.

Also read: Where should you keep pothos in your home?


Sources: Study of Pest in PothosCommon insect pests and diseasesUniversity of Florida Research, Effects of Different Pot Mixtures on PothosPothos water need study