A leggy monstera deliciosa is a sign that something is missing.
Sadly, when a plant as beautiful as the sought after monstera gets leggy, it loses a lot of visual appeal. That’s because its looks weird and “not normal”.
The main cause of a leggy monstera is lack of light.
So, it you see this happening, move the plant to a brighter location with indirect light. This will help the plant stop producing thin, weak, elongated stems.
You’ll also need to prune the leggy stems as they will not recover or heal. Pruning them will encourage new growth to replace them.
What is Legginess?
Legginess in a Monstera plant is when its stems are longer than they should be.
You’ll easily notice this as the stems will look thinner, seem abnormally elongated and the internodes will be spaced farther apart than they normally should be.
As a result, your monstera won’t look healthy.
Instead, it will look stretchy where the stems are thin and longer than they should.
The leaves will also be distanced farther from one another, which makes the plant less visually appealing.
Leggy monstera plants also tend to have smaller leaves. So, you lose the most attractive part of this houseplant.
In most cases, you won’t notice legginess when the monstera is young.
That’s because it will look more like a shrub at this stage.
But as it develops and ages, it will turn into a vine.
Monsteras are natural climbers in the wild. And they do so by climbing up larger trees. This helps them get more exposure to light in order to grow optimally.
Remember, in the forest, monsteras are much shorter than the huge trees. Thus, the leaves and branches of the larger trees will block out some or most of the sun depending on where the plant is positioned.
This is why the plant will climb and cling onto larger plants and trees to try and get more light.
What Causes Leggy Monstera Deliciosa
The main reason for legginess in monstera plants is lack of light.
Light is a very important part of growth and development for the plant. That’s because it relies on photosynthesis.
And your monstera instinctively knows this.
Therefore, when it is not getting enough light, it will stretch out to the point where its stems become thin and elongated.
It does this in desperation to try and get as much light as possible from an insufficient souce.
Why does this happen?
Monsteras are native to tropical rainforests.
There, they live under the branches and leaves of huge trees. But they still get a good amount of light.
However, the light they receive is indirect, filtered or dappled since the leaves and branches will block the sun’s rays.
As such, Monstera growth best indoors when they’re placed in a well-lit location with no direct sunlight.
Still, the area needs to be bright for it to grow optimally.
Outdoors, it will thrive in partial or semi-shade. Avoid full sun as the plant cannot tolerate this kind of intensity for long periods at a time.
Many plant owners have the misconception that more fertilizer means faster growth.
While that works initially, problems tend to follow.
Yes, giving it more than the recommended amount of fertilizer will make your monstera grow faster.
Unfortunately, there’s such a thing as growing too quickly.
When this happens, the plant experiences growth spurts that is not sustainable. And what happens is that the shoots and stems that emerge are thin, weak and elongated.
That’s because they did not grow properly initially.
This prevents the cells and tissues from becoming structurally strong enough.
Thus, you end up with abnormal looking stems that are thin and weak. This makes your monstera leggy.
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How to Fix Leggy Monstera Plants
In this section, I’ll discuss the different things you can do to fix leggy monstera plants.
This way, you’ll be able to avoid the unsightly thin and weak looking stems. Instead, you’ll be able to enjoy the majesty of this beautiful plant.
Give the Plant Ideal Light
The most important thing when trying to fix or avoid a leggy monstera is to give it enough light.
Lack of light is the main reason why the plant becomes leggy.
What happens is that in its desperation to get every ounce of illumination from the light source, it will stretch and sometimes even bend towards the direction where the light is coming from.
It does this to get as much light as possible since it knows that the amount of illumination it is currently receiving is not enough.
Therefore, moving the plant to a brighter location is the best solution if you have a leggy monstera plant.
Monstera plants like bright, indirect light.
This is where they will grow their best.
That means not only do you avoid leggy stems, you’ll also see your Monstera grow faster, bigger, and produce more leaves.
Additionally, its leaves will also be bigger and lusher.
Best of all, good lighting encourages fenestrations. These are the splits or holes on the leaves.
Depending on the type of Monstera you have, the fenestrations could be in the middle of the leaves or open out to the edges of foliage.
If there isn’t enough light, the odds of fenestrations decreases.
This is why some monstera plants don’t have splits or experienced delayed fenestration development.
To ensure that your monstera gets sufficient light, choose a spot that is well-lit or has plenty of light. At the very least, you should easily be able to read a book, newspaper or magazine in that spot without squinting or turning on a lamp or lights.
This is why an east or west facing window is ideal.
You can also go with a southern exposure.
However, with the latter, be careful of direct sunlight. Monsteras cannot tolerate very intense or strong sun. As such, avoid direct sunlight indoors and full sun outdoors.
At the most the plant can withstand 2 to 3 hours of direct sun daily.
Any more than that, its leaves are at risk of sunburn or damage from too much intensity or duration.
This means that the ideal locations to position your monstera indoors is a bright location where the sun’s yellow rays never hit the plant at any given time of the day.
As such, if you keep the plant near a south facing window, make sure to filter the light using sheer curtains or something similar.
Use Artificial Light If Needed
In some cases, you may not get a lot of sunshine into your home.
This can be due to the position of your home, the presence of trees, mountains or structures nearby. Other times, the windows are just positioned in directions where there isn’t enough light.
If this this the case, you can use artificial lights.
You can use artificial lights as a supplement to sunlight. Or you can use the grow lights on their own.
This is likewise true if where you live does not get a lot much sunshine during winter.
Because monsteras are foliage plants, blue light is always a good choice.
That’s because blue light helps with foliage growth since it promotes chlorophyll production.
Note that sunshine is still your best option because the sun covers the entire color spectrum. This is why Monsteras will thrive on 6 or more hours of indirect sunlight daily.
On the other hand, if you’re using LED grow lights without sunshine, you’ll need to supply the plant with at least 11 or 12 hours of artificial lighting daily to grow optimally.
The other thing worth noting is that make sure to keep your grow lights at leas 10 to 12 inches away from our monstera.
While it may seem that putting the light as close as possible is ideal, you need to remember that bulbs emit heat.
So, at 12 hours or more a day, the heat adds up.
Thus, this can eventually burn the leaves of your monstera plants leaving you with brown or black spots or patches.
Rotate the Plant
Another thing that helps prevent leggy monstera is rotating the plant.
This is a good idea if the light is coming from one direction only. Indoors, this happens often since most homes have strategically positioned windows.
And the windows do not span the entire side of the wall.
Instead, the allow light from outside to access only a part of the home.
What happens in this instance is that the side that gets a lot of the light will grow faster and have better color.
On the other hand, the side that does not get the light will become leggy.
It does this in an effort to reach out to the side where the light is coming from.
This is something that can sneak up on you since you know your monstera is getting plenty of light. But it can become leggy because one side does not get as much light as it needs.
To avoid this problem, the simplest way is to rotate the plant every now and then.
You don’t need to be exact in terms of how long each side stays on the light. The key is to be consistent.
Therefore, what I like to do is rotate the plant a 90 degrees (a quarter of a rotation) each time I water the plant.
Monstera only need watering about once a week or when the top 2 inches of soil has dried out.
This makes watering a somewhat consistent timing mechanism that will remind you to rotate the plant.
In doing so, each side will get a good amount of time for about a week or so at a time.
Clean the Leaves
Another reason that your Monstera is leggy despite being positioned somewhere with plenty of light is dust.
Dust and soil tend to accumulate on the surface of the plant’s large, lush, green leaves.
This is one of the downsides of beautiful foliage plants with huge leaves, their foliage tend to be dust magnets.
The problem here is that when enough dust covers the leaves, it blocks the sunlight from getting to the leaves.
As such, while there is plenty of light, the plant is not able to collect what it needs for optimal photosynthesis.
This causes your monstera to be leggy as it will once again seek out more illumination.
Another problem caused by dust and soil on leaves is that they sometimes clog the pores. This will interfere with the exchange of air and water during evapotranspiration.
Therefore, it is important to regularly clean the leaves of your monstera.
In this case, you do not need to wipe them down weekly. Instead, regularly check the leaves. And when you see dust starting to built up, then clean the leaves.
All you need is a damp cloth. You can likewise use soapy water if the soil is stubborn.
Never use leaf shine or other products. These contain chemicals and additives that can clog the pores or cause other problems.
Removing the debris from the leaves will allow them to absorb all the light that is accessible from the bright room you keep them in.
This will allow your monstera to grow taller, produce more leaves and larger ones at that.
Plus, it prevents leggy monstera plants.
Prune the Plant
Unfortunately, once you see leggy stems on your monstera, there is no way to reverse them. There is nothing you can do to make the leggy stems look normal again.
Instead, the fixes above are all to avoid more leggy stems from developing.
As such, the only solution to stems that are elongated, thin and unhealthy looking is to prune them.
Doing this will encourage new growth from the parts you cut. And once you fix the problem that caused your leggy monstera, the new stems that emerge will look great and you’ll see large leaves develop.
In addition to fixing a leggy monstera, pruning also makes the plant more bushy.
Thus, if you have a fairly sparse looking monstera, you can strategically trim or pinch some areas that you want to get thicker or fill out.
But before you make any cuts, make sure to sanitize your cutting tool.
You can use a pair of scissors, pruning shears or even a knife to prune the plant. However, make sure to disinfect the blades before you start cutting.
You can use rubbing alcohol or hydrogen peroxide to sanitize the blades.
Also, while you’re pruning your monstera, you may want to use the stem cuttings to propagate the plant as well.
This lets you grow new monstera plants for free.
If you want to do so, don’t throw away the stem cuttings. Instead, you can plant them into soil or water to let them root.