When you see any of your indoor plants leaning, instead of growing up straight like you would like them to, it could feel disheartening. There could be an issue that is causing the plant to lean, and once you’ve figured out the cause, you can fix it with a simple solution to get it growing the right way, that is straight up.
Causes and Solutions
Read on to know some of the common causes and fixes for your indoor plants that have started leaning.
While outdoor plants grow straight up, owing to being surrounded evenly by sunlight, indoor plants naturally grow towards the source of natural light. This could cause an indoor plant to lean on one side, often to reach out to this light source. If the window, through which sunlight or daylight falls into the room, is far away from the plant, it leans even more, trying to reach out for light.
It may seem the plant is ‘leaning’, when in fact, the shaded side of the plant grows faster, attempting to reach the light, making it appear as if it’s bending. Careful observation of the sunlight falling on your plant for a whole day will let you know if only one side of the plant is being exposed to the light.
Simply moving the leaning plant closer to the window will ensure it has access to ample light. Start by turning the plant’s leaning side away from the light to let it ‘level out.’ This will return it to a neutral position over the next few days. Occasionally, turn the plant by about 90 degrees each week to ensure each side of the plant gains equal access to the light. The result is balanced plant growth, keeping it uniform and straight.
If your home doesn’t get enough natural light, there are artificial lighting options that could be used to supplement natural light.
Plants need support for stable growth once they grow taller. This applies to a lot of plants, including monstera that grows as a vine in the wild, using trees for support.
A simple way to fix this is to stake the potted plant. Typically, a moss pole can be placed in the soil, and the plant can be lightly tied to it, helping it hold itself up. If the plant outgrows the moss pole, you could simply add another one above it.
Generally, a long, slender, yet sturdy stick needs to be used to support the plant. For example, you could use a bamboo or wooden stick or a plastic stake that is almost as tall as the plant. This stick needs to be pushed deep into the soil, positioning it slightly away from the roots at the center to avoid damage to them.
Once the stake is positioned, the plant needs to be straightened to parallel it. With twine or garden ties, the plant needs to be tied loosely to the stake, every 3-4 inches from the bottom-up, to help keep it straight.
The most common problem with potted plants, especially indoor ones, is overwatering or underwatering; both affect the plant negatively. It causes the roots and stem to get weak, and the plant starts to lean or droop.
With overwatering, the roots stay in moist or soggy soil for a longer time, creating a humid condition. This leads to fungal issues such as root rot, causing the roots to become black, soggy, and smell bad. Unhealthy roots are incapable of supplying the required nutrients and moisture to the plant, causing it to weaken with droopy leaves.
Underwatering leads to less moisture for the roots and plant, causing dehydration. The roots are unable to grow deep and the leaves turn dry, yellow, and droop.
Ensuring the right amount of water for plants is essential for healthy growth. Simply check the moisture in the soil by sticking your finger into the potting soil by about 1-2 inches. If the soil sticks to your finger, this is an indication that the amount of moisture is just right, and watering isn’t required. On the other hand, if the soil is dry, it needs good watering. You’ll have to keep watering till you can see water dripping from the drain holes of the pot.
If a plant has been overwatered, let the soil and roots dry out completely (keeping the plant in the bright indirect sun will dry it out faster). Always ensure a complete cycle where the soil is wet and then dries out before watering again. On the other hand, if the plant has been underwatered, start with a thorough watering to drench the soil. This needs to be done till the excess water seeps out of the drain holes; follow this by keeping the plant in indirect light.
Small Pot Size
A growing plant spreads its roots wide to back its growth and support its foliage. A tall plant most likely outgrows its pot. The space in the pot may not suffice for the development of roots, in turn stunting the plant’s growth. The lack of water and nutrients causes it to lean and droop. If you see large roots around the pot’s edges or coming out of the drainage holes, it’s time for your plant to be repotted.
Repotting involves moving the plant into a slightly larger pot. Ideally, doing this between March and September would benefit the plant the most, as this is the growing season, and the plant is abundant in energy to establish new roots.
At times, plants start leaning when their roots are loose in the soil, causing a heavy vertical growth to topple. For plants that lean due to loose roots or heavy foliage, the intervention required is slightly more.
Get the soil around the roots to firm up by placing the existing nursery pot into a deeper pot. This also helps support the lower stems from toppling over with their weight.
Proper nutrition is vital for the healthy and bushy growth of indoor plants. If the plant is leaning despite sufficient light exposure, watering, support, and root-growth space, it’s most likely because of insufficient nutrients in the soil. This leads to a stressed-out plant since the roots are responsible for supporting the plant’s growth and keeping it healthy and upright by deriving nutrients from the soil.
Over time, soil loses its nutrition, probably due to watering. Fertilizing your plants helps in providing adequate nutrition for healthy growth. Using organic, water-soluble plant food rather than a synthetic fertilizer would be better. A balanced N:P:K ratio fertilizer works well for most houseplants. Add it to the soil, and the plants will eventually grow larger and produce more fruits or flowers.
Compost and granular organic fertilizers provide nutrition to the soil and plants. It is recommended to add it at the start of the growing season and again, at the end of the season to ensure nutrients and organic matter are retained. Hence, spring through summer would be when your plants need to be fed to boost their growth. Remember to add fertilizer once in 1-2 months and not overfeed your houseplants.
Minimize fertilizing the plants at the beginning of fall and stop fertilizing altogether during the dormant winters.
The next time you see any of your indoor plants leaning over, you have all the information to determine the cause of this and how to fix it as well. There’s no need to panic or worry. The solutions are quite simple.