Polka Dot Plant Leggy: Increase Lighting To Fix, 6 More Reasons

If you are searching for why polka dot plant leggy then before that let me tell you, these plants are popular because of its vibrant colors, variety and they look cute and sometimes dramatic , they act like they are dead but after giving water they get back and stand. Maintenance of this plant can be tricky but yes it’s easy to grow them in bright light.

‎What Is Legginess In Plants?

Plants with legginess have tall, wiry stems and large leaf gaps. Lack of light or light intensity causes the plant to lengthen its stem to find more light.

In low light, a plant will produce a long, thin stem with widely spread leaves to reach more light. This weakens the stem, making it more likely to break, and affects the plant’s health and development.

Indoor plants, low-light plants, and plants overfed nitrogen-rich fertilizer often develop legginess. To avoid legginess, plants need enough light from the sun or grow lights.

There are ways to fix leggy plants. Pinch the top of the stem to promote branching and bushier growth. Transplanting the plant into a bigger pot with new soil and greater light is another possibility. Pruning the stem and removing lower leaves may also stimulate bushier growth.

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Why is my Polka Dot Plant Leggy? 

A leggy polka dot plant is due to a lack of light, overuse of fertilizers, or poor watering habits. To fix it, Increase lighting, prune it, reduce fertilizing, and improve watering practices. Regular pinching back can also help keep the plant more compact.

Proving plants sufficient light, proper environment or doing regular pruning would enhance plants life and prevent leggy growth in polka dot’s. Cutting would also bring more new plants to life.

With Time polka dot plant gets mature and start growing tall then you can always cut the top stems that are going downward or getting leggy. By pruning, it encourages polka dot plant to grow more compact & fuller. Also putting polka dot plant in partial shade which gets good amount of sunlight for at least 2-4 hours in the morning as they are made to thrive in half sunlight half shade. You can also propagate these Cut off stems in a new pot if they are 3-5 inch long. Use your hand to pinch off some of those long branches as they will grow back once they receive bright light so don’t think if they are becoming leggy.

Some people suggested cutting the lower branches connected to the leggy stem but guys, the tips are what you need to prune little by little. If you do that, your polka dot plant will show bushy growth , else this unknown growth can kill your plant.

polka dot plant leggy Hypoestes phyllostachya
Vinayaraj, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Not Receiving Enough LIGHT

Yes, One of the biggest reasons for leggy polka dot plant is that they don’t get enough light which causes the stem to become leggy. And to search for sunlight it will grow rapidly to find the closest light area which can provide some light.

Leggy polka dot plant are generally weak and can be broken from the middle, it also makes it difficult for the plant to survive longer. Compared to less leaves growth can be seen as a sign of legginess. Not being able to do photosynthesis is kind of a shock to the plant and without food it will not grow any longer.

Polka dot plant know this and for light sources it will start to grow less robust stems which will reach to the sunlight and try to get as much light as possible for the other parts of plants. This is actually a Semi growth in plants and it is dangerous for the long term that’s why pruning is recommended in the first place.

If your polka dot is trying to reach somewhere on the light source then it starts to develop leggy growth and it is an unhealthy stem which will cause concern in upcoming days.

Polka dot plants

Mature with Time

Polka dot lose leaves or see a leggy growth if it matures or gets taller and this is a natural process many plants of similar type do. This plant becomes fuller and compact which makes it attractive enough and it gets everyone’s attention with a pure classy look.

These plants also produce flowers but the eye- catching part is still the foliage of polka dot. With time it ages and loses some growth and begins fresh growth by producing new stems, leaves with which the older leaves will die back so don’t worry naturally it’s common for these plants.

Pruning is the best way possible to reduce the legginess of plants and doing it will give a shiny presentable look to your polka dot plant.

Polka Dot Plants Outdoors

Excess Fertilizing tends to weaken growth

Polka dot plant when given fertilizer it will make the leaves more vibrant and colorful but with that it also tends to have weak growth which result in droopy, floppy, limpy leaves. 

Also the problem is not one, but many when used too much fertilizer like yellowing, browning or falling off leaves more often. 

fertilizer with high Nitrogen will help polka to produce cell inner leaf , pigmentation and bright color but excessive will make it grow faster which in turn causes leggy growth. 

Plants should grow naturally and with the experimenting, people do that in terms of better growth. Legginess can become a problem for them in future.

Polka Dot Plants Indoors

Not using Large Pot

Polka dot grows in a very compact size pot where it can easily stay and grow. When you are growing it in a large pot size it will try to make more stems and become fuller so that you may end up with some leggy growth but it’s not big enough to make your plant die. So Keep your polka dot in a good similar length sized small pot and maintain healthy growth by trimming dead or new leggy growth.

It is actually an addition and rare case but it will grow faster that is for sure, plants generally make more growth when there is a space to fill up.

Perfect Conditions

Yes, You are heard it right, Legginess is often associated with perfect conditions when everything a plant needs then it make progress like growing more greener and having building too many stems, 1-2 might come as leggy stem, but you don’t know how many leggy growth your polka dot can make, it is famous for its legginess and foliage colors. Even the roots and stem which produce in perfect conditions would be strong and some growth might result in droopy, leggy, loose growth.

Perfect condition is something which includes perfect temperature, scheduled watering, proper partial light and caring in all aspects.

How do you fix leggy polka dot plants?

How to Grow Polka Dot Plants From Cuttings

Increase Lighting

As you know polka dot is not a plant that likes to stay in sunlight, and I have seen many cases where polka dot plants get low light which makes them show signs of legginess. With Pruning, you should also take care of this plant from an early stage and it won’t give any legginess if you give polka dots sufficient bright light and regular trimming.

If you think that this position is not good for your plant then move it closer to light and see for some days. Light should be indirect once your plant adapts to that it will thrive and grow leaves properly and it’s the sign you have made your plant happy.

Some people mistakenly put these near sunlight areas which in turn harm the plant leaves. It may wilt, drop some foliage and leaf spot, and burn the kind of problem your polka dot will face. You can always change location and test it out whether your plant needs partial light, some more hours of direct sunlight or only happy with morning sunlight; all you can do is experiment with your plant.

Prune The Plant

If you want to fix polka dot plant legginess then often prune these plants and make a habit for that, this not only makes your plant healthy but also good in appearance. Pruning plants will encourage new branches, stems to grow. It basically means more bulky bushy plants. 

Many people face different problems like overwatering, dropping of leaves, brown or yellow leaves but if you do regular pruning you can save your plants from dying early, but this may cause no flowering but atleast plant would be healthy and it is free from any disease or pests.

This plant is pruned mostly in spring to summer, also if needed you can trim according to plant requirements. I highly recommend not pruning in winters or just before the months of fall. As you know plants go to sleep or in dormant stage at this time of the year so it basically means no growth so if prune at that time, then firstly it won’t grow and if you are lucky and polka dot’s started to grow then it may not grow as per its growth rate.

You should also remember not to prune hard, some people may trim to make it too short but basically if you want more fuller growth you just need to take out some of the branches and leaves that are either deceased or passed or damaged because those leaves or stems won’t create any benefit for the plant.

For polka dot pruning what you need is a pair of pruners, hand gloves, rubbing alcohol; this is for those who are new to gardening otherwise people just pinch off everything with these fingers. Still use whatever you are comfortable with.

Less Fertilizer

Use of Fertilizer is very common to provide nutrients so polka dot leaves can have more vibrant and dark, shiny colors. You can use all purpose plant food fertilizer which can be given to plants every 15 days or once in a month. It would be good enough if you used a soil full of positive nutrients. Some soil comes with everything a plant needs, which is why they are sold out costly.

Best time to fertilize a polka dot plant is spring or summer, that is the time when plants start to grow.

Once the autumn season begins you may see slower growth so it’s a sign you should stop giving fertilizer otherwise plants won’t take it and it can be wasted. In winters plants completely stop growing and go dormant, so feeding that time has no benefit for plants.

Every fertilizer comes with instruction and how often you can apply to your plants. Some are liquid based which can be mixed with 50%-70% of water but i highly recommend it if you can read the manual and follow that.

I am using All purpose Plant food by Miracle Gro. you can try that.

Read polka dot plant care guide and propagation.

In the lifetime of polka dot plant, you may see legginess so don’t worry it care easily be prevented and resolved with pruning every month or in few weeks.

Adjust the thermostat

The ideal temperature range for Polka Dot Plants is between 60 and 80 °F (15 and 27 °C). Your plant may get stressed and start to sag if it is exposed to temperatures that are too high or low. Be cautious to keep your Polka Dot Plant away from vents and drafts that might change the temperature.

Limit The Size Of The Container

It’s possible that the size of your Polka Dot Plant’s container is the cause of its excessively tall and lanky growth. To stimulate root development and a bigger, bushier plant, transplant your plant into a smaller container. To prevent overwatering, use a pot with sufficient drainage.

Apply the soak-and-dry technique

Your Polka Dot Plant may become strained and lanky as a result of overwatering. Water your plant using the soak-and-dry technique, letting the soil dry up in between applications. Prior to watering, make careful to check the moisture level of the soil and keep your plant out of standing water.

Move to Cool place

Moving your Polka Dot plant to a cooler place might help with legginess. Warmer climates tend to cause plants to grow more rapidly and, as a consequence, become lanky. You may reduce your plant’s growth and encourage it to develop more compact leaves by transferring it to a cooler location.

If you’re growing your Polka Dot plant outside, think about relocating it to a shady spot or putting it beneath a tree canopy so it may get some indirect sunlight. You may transfer it to a cooler location or place it away from heat sources like radiators or direct sunshine if you’re growing it indoors.

While colder temperatures might aid in reducing legginess, it is vital to remember that severe temperatures can potentially injure your plant. Do not subject your plant to temperatures exceeding 90°F (32°C) or below 50°F (10°C). Additionally, keep your plant away from drafts and abrupt temperature fluctuations, since these conditions may stress and harm the plant.

Polka Dot Plant Indoor Care

These plants are basically indoor growers and roots of this plant grow very quickly if they get an ideal environment. These plants have leggy growth where they have flowers but there’s no use of purple flowers if it makes the whole plant suffer. You can remove the flowers by pinching them off as they also absorb the energy which is going for the stem and leaves.

Indoors you need to put polka dot plants in bright light locations where it only gets enough filtered or indirect light. Don’t place your lovely plant near the direct sun as it can burn the leaves. If you are using a large pot then you can also grow them outdoors in shade.

Did you know polka dot can lose its green foliage color if they don’t get proper light, you may notice the leaves turning light green that’s the indication of light deficiency. Putting them on indirect light can solve this issue.

Also Lastly I advice you to keep checking its growth and often pinch off its stem so it doesn’t have any leggy growth. this is the major concern on these plants.

Polka dot plant Problems

If your plant ever face any pest infestation then use pesticide or neem oil to get rid of them. For Fungal disease always use your finger to check water moisture and don’t overwater your plants as too much water attract fungus.

Wrap up

I hope you get the answer on “Polka Dot Plant Leggy” and if you like to read more similar article check below.

Polka Dot Plant Outdoors – Tips to Grow Hypoestes phyllostachya

Copright Notice: The content is first published in lotusmagus.com website, if you are seeing this article in other website then it has been copied fully. Lotusmagus is a website about plants and flowers by Amelia Clark. Copyright Marked

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Amelia Clark

I'm Amelia Clark, a seasoned florist and gardening specialist with more than 15 years of practical expertise. Following the completion of my formal education, I dedicated myself to a flourishing career in floristry, acquiring extensive understanding of diverse flower species and their ideal cultivation requirements. Additionally, I possess exceptional skills as a writer and public speaker, having successfully published numerous works and delivered engaging presentations at various local garden clubs and conferences.

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