Why is this happening?

Your potted plants are growing well. But they are growing towards sunlight coming from the windowsill.

You have heard that rotating your potted plants can solve this problem. But does it help?

You should rotate houseplants or potted plants so they get sunlight on all sides. This prevents the plants from leaning on one side. It ensures healthy and even growth of the foliage. The houseplant looks aesthetic with even growth on all sides.

In this post, I’ll help you understand why you should rotate potted plants. I’ll give tips on how to rotate your potted plants and how often you should do this.

Let’s get started.

Why should you rotate potted plants?

You should rotate potted plants if they are in a position that receives sunlight only in one direction. When you rotate the plant, it will help all sides receive sunlight and grow foliage evenly. It prevents the plant from growing in one direction that can weaken it and impact aesthetic appeal.

Plants need sunlight to create their food using photosynthesis. When you grow potted plants, they may be placed in a position that does not get enough sunlight. This could be near a windowsill indoors, a patio outdoors, or in a hanging planter.

If the sunlight is coming from one direction, the plant will try growing in that direction to get maximum light. This will make the plant lean over in that direction as it grows more foliage on one side.

Phototropism is a natural process where a plant grows towards the light source in order to get as much light as possible for photosynthesis – a plant’s way of generating energy. (plantcell.org)

When you rotate the potted plant every few weeks, it can get the required sunlight on all sides. This encourages the plant to grow foliage evenly on all sides. The plant will have plenty of nutrients, grow strong, and have good aesthetic appeal.

What happens if a potted plant is not rotated?

If the potted plant that receives sunlight only from one direction is not rotated, it can suffer the below problems.

Lean on one side

If you don’t rotate your potted plant that is not receiving sunlight on all sides, it will lean on the side that is getting enough light.

If the plant keeps growing in this direction, it will become heavy on one side and finally topple over.

When a plant is left to a standstill with no moving whatsoever, it begins to grow on a tangent towards the light due to all the plant’s auxins gathering in the side without light. (holganix.com)

Poor growth

If your potted plant is not rotated and receives sunlight only in certain areas, the foliage growth will not be optimal. Leaves will grow on one side of the plant, but the other sides will have poor growth.

Lack of enough leaves means the plant can’t create sufficient food for itself and this means slow growth for the plant.

I just rotate a little each time I water them. Unless one doesn’t get watered often and it’s starting to go lopsided. – Carly

Attacked by pests or diseases

If your potted plant is receiving sunlight only in one direction, the other areas can remain humid. You water the plant and the moisture remains on the foliage for a longer time.

The benefit of sunlight is it will dry out the moisture from the foliage. This protects the plant from humid conditions that attract pests and diseases.

How to rotate a potted plant for sunlight

You should rotate the potted plant by 90 degrees every week or two so that all sides of the plant get enough sunlight.

You can make this part of your routine every week to check up on your potted plants and rotate them.

An easy way to figure out which direction to rotate is to put an arrow mark on the pot. You could use a marker or tape to draw this out.

I rotate them each time I water them. A 1/4 turn clockwise. – Sheila

If the potted plants are large or in big pots, it may not be easy to rotate them. I suggest keeping such potted plants on a dolly with wheels. This will help rotating plants with ease.

As you rotate the potted plant, you can also take care of maintaining the plant’s condition. If you see dead or dying foliage, you can prune it.

Check for any moist conditions causing pests or diseases on the foliage. You need to take the corrective action if sunlight will not resolve the problem.

I asked gardeners if they had to rotate houseplants. In the survey, 58.3% told that they did need to rotate their potted plants so they got sufficient sunlight. You can see the results below.

How often should you rotate potted plants?

You should rotate potted plants every week so that the plant can get enough sunlight from all sides. You can put an arrow mark on the pot so you know the direction to rotate.

Do I need to rotate outdoor potted plants?

You need to rotate outdoor potted plants if they are not receiving sunlight from all directions on all the foliage. It’s best if you can place the outdoor potted plants in a position that receives good sunlight if you want to prevent the need to rotate them.

Do I need to rotate plants under a fluorescent light?

You need to rotate plants under a fluorescent light if they are not receiving the light evenly on all the foliage. It’s best if you can position the fluorescent light the plant in a position that the light is distributed well.