A leggy pothos is not just unaesthetic. Often, it’s also unhealthy, and more vulnerable to pests and diseases. Here are four essential care requirements that will prevent leggy pothos growth.
1.) Give It Bright Indirect Light
The first step in how to keep a pothos from getting leggy is giving it bright indirect light.
Admittedly, houseplant sellers list pothos as a low-light plant. But, as tempting as it is to put a pothos in a dark spot, such as on top of a wardrobe, your plant will not thrive there.
If you just brought a pothos plant home, put it in a part of your room where it has plenty of light, but avoid intense sunlight exposure. A couple of hours of direct sun early in the morning won’t damage the plant, but the intense midday sun will scorch the foliage.
If you’ve just trimmed a leggy pothos and want to prevent it from growing leggy again, start by changing its location.
Move it closer to a window, but avoid direct sunlight exposure for a few weeks. The leaves may still be too tender and sensitive to intense light, and even the morning sun can damage them.
If your home has very little natural light, your best option is to invest in a set of grow lights. Or, if you have a room that is facing north, you can keep your pothos directly next to a window.
2.) Adjust Fertilizer Applications to Your Light Conditions
Insufficient light will affect not just how your pothos looks but how you should care for it to prevent leggy growth.
Unfortunately, not everyone has a room with the proper sunlight exposure for their pothos. But on the plus side, there are some things you can do to make the most out of the growing conditions in your home.
If your pothos is receiving bright indirect light throughout the day, you can fertilize it once a month with a liquid, nitrogen-rich fertilizer diluted to half-strength.
If your pothos is sitting in a room with northern exposure, or just in a darker part of your home, it will grow at a slower rate. In this case, reduce fertilizer applications to once every 2 to 3 months.
Keep in mind that light conditions also change depending on the season. In the winter, your home will naturally be darker, and your pothos will not need any fertilizers because it’s entering a brief dormancy period. But if you’re using grow lights, your pothos will continue to grow, and you can keep fertilizing it.
3.) Avoid Hot Temperatures
High temperatures can also trigger an unnatural growth spurt in pothos plants. The ideal temperature range for pothos is between 70°F and 86°f (21°C to 30°C).
In the summer, or if temperatures exceed the optimal range, you will need to either move your pothos to a cooler spot or use a humidifier to lower the temperature around the plant.
4.) Grow Pothos on a Moss or Coir Pole
Pothos has a natural tendency to grow upwards. However, unlike other plants, which use tendrils to climb, pothos uses aerial roots.
In the wild, these roots attach themselves to any suitable substrate, and will also provide the plant with additional water and nutrients.
When growing indoors, giving your pothos a trellis or stake to climb on is not a long-term solution. The plant will know that the roots are not attached to anything, and will eventually start growing leggy stems in an attempt to find something suitable to climb on — ideally, a tree.
A sphagnum moss or coir pole is the best type of support for a pothos. The aerial roots will attach themselves to the pole, and the plant will stop growing long, leggy stems. This is also a great way to help the plant reach its mature form.
Once pothos plants start climbing, they will grow larger leaves, and some species, including the Golden Pothos, will also start developing fenestrations.