Rotating Houseplants: How Often Should I Turn it?

If your houseplants are looking vibrant and healthy, yet their shape seems to have altered and now seems lopsided, this could be a case of not rotating them. Their misshapen appearance is a natural occurrence as most plants seek out the light and grow towards it. This is called phototropism and helps plants in the wild to find sunlight, which in turn makes them stronger.

Plants contain auxins, cells that will determine how a plant develops. If the auxins on the plant are in shade they can become long and thin, while the side receiving good strong light is smaller but stronger. This can easily be remedied in houseplants by rotating them every now and again.

Every time you water your plant turn the pot a little, or if a plant needs less water, turn them around by a quarter, as this should ensure the houseplant grows evenly. Keep this up regularly and you’ll have perfectly shaped shrubs, rather than strange odd variations.

Fluorescent lights

Of course, some rooms where plants are placed will not have natural sunlight. Therefore placing a fluorescent light above the houseplant will help it grow straight. Alternatively placing the light on the shaded side means the auxins allow the cells to grow equally, otherwise, the rotation method works just fine.

What happens if a plant does not get rotated?

It’s good to get into the habit of rotating houseplants, however, there are times when you may be away, or simply forget to. It’s easy to tell if a plant has not been rotated through – just lookout for the following:

  • If one looks tall and spindly without a nice rounded growth, it’s likely it has been reaching upwards for the light source. Larger species such as canes or trees will often lean heavily at an angle.
  • The side of plants facing light has an abundance of leaves but barely any on the dark side.

Want a well-structured houseplant? Simply keep rotating it!

Why rotate houseplants

It can often be difficult to know where to place a houseplant so that it gets a good source of sunlight. Outdoors you don’t have this problem but indoors it’s crucial to have equal lighting to achieve plants that look good from all sides. The structures of a house cannot be moved, as both fluorescent lighting and windows are fixed in place.

However, plants can be moved around to find the best environment for them. You need to ensure your plants are rotated regularly, as all plants gravitate towards light sources, and can look rather bizarre if left without turning.

If trees and larger plants start to lean, this is an indication that they aren’t getting light from all directions. The leaves on a plant will look healthy on one side and often dire on the opposite.

How and when to rotate

Deciding when and how often to rotate houseplants will depend on what kind of plant it is. Some enjoy full sunlight, whilst others prefer shaded areas, so it’s important to do your research. Just as the correct amount of watering and pruning is necessary when caring for plants, so is lighting.

Let’s say you have a rapidly growing plant such as a ficus that enjoys full sun, you may place it on the windowsill, to watch it thrive. This one should be turned 180 degrees every two months, in order to ensure it looks well-rounded.

Philodendron and similar plants prefer to be out of bright sunlight and prefer a more shaded or dappled light. The plant leaves will shrivel and die on one side if not turned. For best results with this species, rotate houseplants monthly at a full 90-degree angle.

There are plants that need constant rotation too; these are the shade-loving varieties. A least once a week, turn your plant 45 degrees to allow the leaves to grow even and healthy.

Make rotation easier

Lots of modern homes feature statuesque plants, such as large palms, ferns, and the likes of cheese plants, which are not easy to move. Carefully select the best area to place these when you first invest in them and choose somewhere that is easy to access or has a source of even sunlight.

Maintenance is crucial to these often expensive plants so get into a routine of watering and feeding them regularly, but remember the importance of rotating houseplants here too. For best results, invest in containers with wheels to help rotate them easily.

Alternatively, invest in smaller plants. You can find a variety of plants at online florists, many of which are available for next-day delivery.

Other things to look for after turning a plant

You have all the information about rotating your plants, but what if you are a perfectionist and can’t wait for the other side to become symmetrical? If the plant has been left for too long without rotation, it can take some time to catch up. Pruning is an option, as this can help to make the plant look even and more symmetrical.

Protruding stalks look unsightly therefore try to push them back into the soil firming them down. It may be possible to trim some of them depending on the type of plant. All of these things will help maintain a good structure on your plant.

Alternatively, you can use canes, as these will help persuade the plant to stand straight. Ensure they are placed firmly in the soil. Dust also inhibits the plant so it’s good to wipe this off regularly. Better still, take a cloth dipped in warm soapy water and gently wipe the leaves. If it’s a species that dislikes overwatering, be very careful to limit the amount of water you use when cleaning the leaves.

In summary, rotate houseplants to enjoy symmetrical, healthy plants in your home or office environment; brightening up the room and allowing you to enjoy it for that little bit longer!


Lily Calyx is our in-house flower whisperer, an expert on all things botanical and an enthusiastic orchids collector. She loves discussing the insights of the secret world of flowers, shares her gardening tips and hacks and moons over the latest additions to Serenata Flowers flower range. Ask Lily anything about flowers and we can guarantee she will have the answer.

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