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Leggy Pothos Plant? 6 Reasons Why & What To Do!

Pothos can turn any corner of your house into a veritable jungle and add a touch of greenery to it. But if Pothos grows long vines with no stems or leaves, it becomes leggy. But what makes them leggy? Let’s see. 

Pothos get leggy due to lack of sunlight, overfertilization, incorrect pot size, high temperatures, or lack of pruning. Sometimes, Pothos get leggy because they keep climbing for support. 

Fortunately, fixing a leggy Pothos is easy with a few changes in its growing conditions. During my 12 years of gardening, I have found 6 main reasons for my pothos becoming leggy.

Read this article till the end to learn the reasons for leggy growth in your Pothos and what changes you should make to fix the legginess. 

Pothos vine growing leggy

I have done my best to address all of your concerns in the article below. However, if you still have any questions or are confused about the article, you can receive personalized one-on-one assistance from me by leaving a comment below. I will respond to your comment within a few hours.

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1. Lack of Sunlight Causing Leggy Pothos Growth

One of the main reasons that make your Pothos leggy is insufficient sunlight.

Pothos require bright indirect sunlight for 10-12 hours. 

Pothos can also tolerate low light conditions, but it will grow slowly. 

However, this can make you think Pothos can be kept in dark corners. 

That’s not the point. 

An area with no light will only stress your Pothos and cause several issues, including leggy growth. 

Pothos tries to grow tall and leggy towards the light source for some light. 

If you don’t adjust the light conditions, the plant will droop and bend downwards, and the vines might break from the center. 

Over time, you will also notice pale yellow leaves because insufficient light hinders chlorophyll production responsible for the leaf pigment. 

Shifting your Pothos to a bright location or using artificial Grow lights can solve the issue. 

2. Overfertilization Leading to Leggy Pothos Plants

Excessive fertilizer triggers unnaturally fast growth in your Pothos. 

When you use too much fertilizer, especially nitrogen-rich fertilizer, Pothos will utilize maximum extra nutrients during the active months to grow long vines and climb onto something. 

Pothos will grow leggy when they absorb too much nutrients, and the space between the growth nodes will stretch out. 

The new leaves will have a stunted look. 

Sometimes, there won’t be any leaves but long and leggy vines. 

You should stop feeding your Pothos to stop them from becoming leggy. 

3. Incorrect Pot Size Contributing to Leggy Growth in Pothos

Pothos plant root bound

Shifting your Pothos to a bigger pot while repotting is a good decision, as it gives the roots more space to develop flexibly without obstructions. 

While using a vast pot can be tempting, it is not the right decision. 

Pothos will be influenced to spread out when they grow in a pot that provides excessive space for root expansion. 

As the roots expand, your Pothos will grow uncontrollably. 

Ultimately, your Pothos will become extremely leggy with almost zero leaves. 

Choose a pot that is only 1-2 inches bigger than the old one. 

Also read: What happens if you put a plant in a pot too big?

4. High Temperatures Resulting in Leggy Pothos

Your Pothos are tropical plants and love warm temperatures with humid surroundings. 

They perform best when the temperature ranges between 65°F and 90°F. Temperatures above 90°F can be detrimental to the plant. 

Since Pothos love warm weather, the heatwave during high temperatures will initially provide an extra boost to Pothos and encourage them to grow long vines. 

But if the condition continues, the leaves will be fewer in number. High temperatures can reduce the humidity. 

Over time, Pothos suffers from frequent dehydration, and leaves fall off. 

All you will have are the leggy vines.  

Transfer your Pothos to a cooler area if it is overheating and growing leggy. 

5. Lack of Pruning Leads To A Leggy Pothos

Pruning pothos leaves

Pruning encourages Pothos to grow faster and bushier.  

Your Pothos will keep growing if you don’t prune. 

However, it can become leggy instead of having a bushy and fuller growth. 

If the above causes are not responsible, you might not have pruned your Pothos long. 

That’s why they have grown uncontrollably and become leggy. 

Pruning every 2-3 months can prevent leggy growth in Pothos and encourage fuller growth. 

6. Absence of Support to Climb on Causing Pothos to Become Leggy

Pothos are natural climbers. 

In the wild, Pothos use their aerial roots to climb and cling to the tree trunks nearby and move towards the canopy for more light. 

When Pothos don’t have enough support to climb and grow, they will develop long vines while trying to find support to climb on to. 

The longer the plant searches for support, the more leggy it will become. 

Some Pothos varieties are prone to get extremely leggy, for example, Golden Pothos, Cebu Blue Pothos, and Satin Pothos. 

These varieties are fast-growers and become extremely leggy within no time. 

Different Pothos varieties show varied negative impacts when they become leggy. 

For example, Satin Pothos grows small, less-variegated leaves. 

In contrast, Cebu blue (Epipremnum pinnatum) will lose leaf fenestrations.  

Pothos plant pot checking the soil

8 easy steps to troubleshoot leggy growth in Pothos 

Unattractive and unhealthy growth results from leggy Pothos. 

So, whenever you notice leggy growth, you should learn the reasons and fix them immediately to prevent legginess in the future. 

Once you are acquainted with the causes of leggy growth in Pothos, you need to troubleshoot these issues to fix a leggy Pothos. 

Let’s see how to troubleshoot the problem.

1. Prune your leggy Pothos

Once you have noticed leggy growth in Pothos, your first job is to cut off the leggy part from the plant. 

If you haven’t pruned your Pothos for a while, continue trimming the overgrown leaves, stems, and vines. 

Lack of pruning also encourages leggy growth. 

Pruning will improve its appearance and stimulate vine and leaf growth, encouraging bushy and fuller growth. 

Mark the leggy vines you intend to prune and cut each vine around ¼ inch above the leaf. This will encourage a new vine at each node. 

Once you have pruned your Pothos, find if any other reasons were making the plant leggy. 

Since there are multiple reasons, find the right one and troubleshoot it. 

2. Change the light conditions for your leggy Pothos

Check the light conditions around your Pothos. 

Is the plant getting insufficient light? 

While Pothos can tolerate low lights, they are not used to dark corners.

If your Pothos sits in a dark corner, relocate it to a brighter location that receives dappled or indirect sunlight. 

An east-facing window provides gentle indirect sunlight throughout the day. 

You can place your Pothos near this window. 

South or west-facing windows provide too much sunlight. 

You can use sheer curtains or Venetian blinds to filter the light. 

Another option is to use artificial Grow lights. 

Keep LED or fluorescent lights 6-12 inches away from the plant. 

Keep it on for 10-12 hours and off for the rest of the time. 

Observe your Pothos and see if there is any leggy growth. 

You have solved the issue if your Pothos flourishes after a few weeks. 

If it still grows leggy, move on to troubleshoot the next cause. 

3. Stop overfertilizing your leggy Pothos

Houseplant liquid fertilizer

If your Pothos is still growing leggy, check your fertilizer schedule again. 

If you have fertilized too often, it is time to stop feeding. 

Wait to see how your Pothos reacts for the next few days. 

If your Pothos stops being leggy further, consider the issue fixed. 

During the next fertilizing session, ensure your fertilizer is not very nitrogen-rich. 

Instead, go for a balanced fertilizer with 10-10-10 or 20-20-20 NPK levels. Here are my two favorites: 

Another option is to flush off the soil. 

Water your Pothos thoroughly, let the soil dry for some time, and water it again. 

Do this 2-3 times until the excess salt from overfertilization drains entirely from the soil. 

Stop feeding until you notice new, healthy growth. 

If the plant grows leggy again, you have other issues or must replace the soil mix. 

Need help with correct fertilizer applications for Pothos? Here’s my fertilization schedule: 

  • Fertilize your Pothos every 4-6 weeks with a liquid fertilizer
  • If you use slow-release fertilizer, use it 1-2 times a year. 
  • Always fertilize your Pothos during the active months, i.e., spring and summer. As fall arrives, reduce the frequency and quit during winter. 
  • Dilute your fertilizer to 1/2 or 1/4 of the recommended strength. This will reduce the chances of overfeeding. 
  • Use organic fertilizer, like compost or well-rotted manure, to reduce overfeeding, fertilizer burns, and leggy growth. 

4. Do something with the oversized pot for your leggy pothos

Consider the pot size if your Pothos is getting leggy despite the above troubleshooting steps. 

You must always choose a pot 1-2 inches bigger than the old one. 

If you have a big pot, there are two options

  • Repot your Pothos again to a slightly smaller pot. If you remember the size of the old one, choose a pot 1-2 inches bigger than that one. If you don’t recall, choose a pot 1-2 inches smaller than the recent big one, based on the plant size. 
  • If your pot is huge compared to the plant size, you can add a few more plants in the same pot. It is better to keep Pothos only so that you can provide the exact requirements without any stress. 

Once you have solved the pot issue, observe your plant and see if it has any leggy growth. 

If not, you have solved the issue. If yes, something else is bothering the plant. 

5. Maintain ambient temperatures around your leggy Pothos

Pothos plant sunlight

Still, having leggy growth in Pothos? The temperature could be the issue. 

Temperatures crossing 85-90°F during the summer are common, and in zones 6-12, temperatures can cross even 100°F. 

Check the room temperature if your Pothos is getting leggy despite approaching the above troubleshooting steps. 

If it has crossed 90°F, immediately shift it to a cooler room. 

An AC room will be fine as long as the unit is 12 ft. away from your plant and the temperature is above 60-65°F. 

Keep your plant away from heating vents, radiators, or windows receiving hot drafts. 

Increase water to maintain good hydration and keep humidity around 50-60%. 

6. Give your Pothos enough support to avoid legginess

Pothos are natural climbers that keep growing leggy unless and until you provide some support. 

If your Pothos is growing in a pot, keep it close to some areas where they can get some support, for example, near a window with grills. 

Some of my Pothos are on the balcony. 

I have installed a wall trellis near the plant. 

Pothos climb the trellis and keep growing. 

I spend most of my time on the balcony to stay close to nature. 

One of my friends has trained her Pothos to grow around the mirrors of her rooms. 

She has even decorated one side of her drawing room with Pothos by installing a wall trellis and hanging the pot near it so that Pothos can catch and climb it. 

Any kind of support can be beneficial for Pothos. 

7. Adjust Pothos watering habits to avoid legginess

If your Pothos becomes leggy, it will have fewer green leaves. 

To fix the leggy growth in Pothos, you will already adjust some basic needs, like improving light conditions, fertilization practices, and temperature ranges. 

Besides these, also maintain good hydration to make your Pothos as appealing and shiny as before. 

Proper hydration will encourage new growth of vines and leaves, aid in quick recovery, and prevent stress in the future. 

Deeply water the soil until the excess drains out. 

Soon, your Pothos will start having new vines, stems, and leaves and become bushy over time. 

Let the top few inches of the soil dry out before every watering session. 

8. Use the leggy Pothos cuttings for propagation

Pothos water propagation

What to do with these leggy cuttings from your Pothos? Should they be thrown away, or can they be used further?

This is the question my readers ask me whenever I discuss pruning-related topics with my readers. 

Some of them discard these cuttings. 

I suggest you save and propagate them for new Pothos. 

Make sure the cuttings are healthy and not diseased or infested. 

Give it a try and provide all the requirements correctly. If successful, you’ll have a new Pothos plant. 

How to care for Pothos and prevent leggy growth? 

  • Keep Pothos in a location that provides bright indirect sunlight for 10-12 hours. 
  • Water your Pothos whenever the top few inches have dried. It will encourage bushy growth. 
  • Fertilize your Pothos every 4-6 weeks with a liquid fertilizer and 1-2 times a year with a slow release during the active months. Avoid overfertilizing or winter feeding. Dilute your fertilizer to make the dosage ½ the recommended strength. 
  • Prune your Pothos every 2-3 months during the spring or summer to a bushy growth. 
  • Use the right pot size for Pothos. While repotting, choose a pot 1-2 inches bigger than the existing one. Avoid huge pots. 
  • Support your Pothos, be it trellis, window grills, mirrors, or anything. 
  • Maintain 65-90°F temperatures and 50-60% humidity around Pothos. 

Here’s how I make my existing and newly propagated Pothos plants bushy: 

  • Coil and pin the vines of your Pothos plant. 
  • Wind the vines so that the aerial roots face downwards, then lay them on the growing medium.
  • Pin the roots with a cultivation pin or hairpin to ensure they touch the soil. The aerial roots will go down into the soil over time. 
  • You can try burying the node in the medium. But sometimes, leaves can drop off. A new vine will grow once the node develops roots, making your plant bushy. 

Final thoughts 

Pothos having a leggy growth is very concerning and unattractive. Fortunately, we have ways to fix the problem. Long vines and stems with sparse leaves growing too far away from each other are the common signs of leggy growth in Pothos. Lack of sunlight, overfertilization, high temperatures, oversized pots, and lack of pruning are common reasons for leggy growth in Pothos. 

You need to change the existing growing conditions and troubleshoot each issue to fix the leggy growth. Prune the leggy part, improve light conditions, maintain 65-90°F, stop fertilizing until you notice new growth, improve fertilizing practices, and change the pot or add more plants to the big pot. 

Give your trailing Pothos some support to climb instead of letting them be long and leggy. Hydrate your Pothos properly for quick recovery and new growth of leaves and vines, and enhance the plant’s vigor and shine. Use the pruned plant parts to propagate and get more Pothos. 

How do I understand that my Pothos is leggy?

Long, thin stems with sparse leaves, poor leaf development, and discolored leaves on the lower part of the stem are a few common signs of leggy growth in Pothos. 

Can I propagate Pothos cuttings in water?

Yes, you can propagate Pothos in water. But once the roots emerge, transfer them to a well-drained potting mix.

Reference: Pothos WikipediaSpindly Growth Wikipedia 

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