Skip to Content

Rotating Houseplants: Here’s Why You Should Do It

Spread the Word!

Rotating houseplants is an important task that is often overlooked until it is actually noticed that something is wrong. Plants tend to grow naturally towards the light which makes potted plant rotation a necessity when it comes to plant growth and aesthetics.

Houseplant rotation is done by rotating a potted plant on its axis every 2 – 3 months to expose areas of the plant which does not normally receive adequate amounts of sunlight. The plant rotation gives the plant a more balanced growth and helps with the symmetric and aesthetics of the plant.

Having plants within the house is great for improving air quality and creating a relaxing environment. The plants are more visible and this creates a sense of comfort as the plants add value to the living space.

But having the plant within the house only exposes only parts of the plant to sunlight which is needed for growth and development. Windows and artificial light may be the only source of light the plant has, and they are fixed which creates a problem.

Here we discuss how simply rotating the plant on a scheduled basis can aid in producing healthy and symmetrical-looking plants within the home.

Effect of Light and Plant Growth

Rotating Houseplants

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. 

A plant’s auxin molecules gather on the side that doesn’t receive much light, causing it to lengthen the cells on that side more which makes the plant to bend towards the light, therefore making it look twisted and craned. 

However, when you rotate your houseplants, they will receive an even amount of growth and so will not only make them look nicer but will make them stronger and sturdier. 

This happens as rather than having one fixed direction of light, your plant will periodically get light from many different directions, causing its auxins to spread throughout the plant evenly. This then makes the plant grow straighter from all sides.

If rotating the plant is not an option you can provide an artificial source that will surely balance the light that it’s currently receiving. We use a very cost-effective and durable artificial light from amazon for our indoor plants. You can find it by clicking here.

Why you Should Rotate Houseplants

Rotating your houseplants is mandatory, owing to the fact that the majority of such plants only have light coming in from a window or a fluorescent light. 

This makes the plant more likely to bend out of place, or in a way that isn’t aesthetically what may be in mind for its surroundings and could potentially be obstructive. 

The sun is always moving from east to west, which is why outdoor plants are almost always upright. 

However, plants that stay indoors only receive light from artificial fluorescent light, or from a window that never moves. 

This forces your plant to bend to a certain degree towards this light source. As mentioned before, it can cause both practical and aesthetic problems. 

If you don’t move your plant, this problem will keep getting worse and it may become too late to straighten your plant back up again. 

It also strengthens the stems of your houseplants as it gives each side an equal chance to grow and so they don’t miss out.

What Happens if a Plant Doesn’t Get Rotated?

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.

This enhances the growth of that side and stunts the growth of the side of the plant that’s facing the light, so it bends. 

This is a natural plant process called phototropism and since auxins can’t be reduced due to them being needed for gravitropism (the process of auxins being used for the growth of roots), an indoor plant needs to be manually rotated so it doesn’t bend in an unwanted way. 

In larger and longer plants, this can be especially noticeable and if a plant is too old and large, the bend cannot be reversed. 

Therefore, you need to rotate your houseplant early on to prevent phototropism from making your plant become distorted and so you can bring about symmetry.

How Often Should You Rotate Your Houseplants?

This depends on the intensity and frequency of which your houseplant receives light. However, on average, you should rotate your houseplant every 2 to 3 months

You don’t need to rotate it that much, as it takes a while for a plant to fully perform phototropism. 

If you have a high light intensity, you should be sure to rotate your plant more regularly than if your plant is in a place with less light. 

Every 2 months for a place with higher light intensity and every 3 months for a place with less will be enough to ensure that your houseplant doesn’t bend towards the light as you’re giving each side an equal amount. 

Be sure to keep up your plant’s mineral intake too, so that your plant doesn’t appear shriveled and droopy, which may give the effect of asymmetry and your plant may tilt to one side. 

Deficiency in minerals such as copper and calcium causes a plant to appear wilted and disfigured thus your plant may be bent even if you keep up to scratch with your houseplant plant rotation. 

Watering is also a factor that plays into a plant being askew. Water keeps cells firm and rigid, without enough water, your plant will be limper than a plant with a good water supply.

Mark Plant pot before rotating
Rotate plant in one direction

One easy tip to remember before rotating your houseplants is to place a small unnoticeable mark on the plant pot and use this as a guide to know which direction you have rotated your plant and by how much.

How to Rotate a Houseplant

To rotate a houseplant, you should turn it 90 degrees on its axis every 2 or three months. 

It doesn’t matter which direction you rotate in, but once you rotate it one way such as clockwise, be sure not to rotate it in the other direction, which would be anticlockwise, as you would be facing it in the direction it was facing before.

This will then increase the likelihood of auxins gathering on the other side of the plant and bending towards the light. 

In addition to this, if you can do so, you should also place your light source directly above your houseplant, or perhaps choose a window that faces down upon the plant.

This guarantees your plant will grow upright. This will happen as the auxins will cause the plant cells to grow all at the same time and pace, making the stem thick and short.

If you find that after rotating your houseplant, your plant is still crooked, you must keep in mind that there are other factors that affect a plant’s symmetry and ability to stay straight. 

These can be anything from the uptake of water and mineral ions to soil pH. 

The intensity of the light source also affects this, which means you should keep your plant close to the light but not too much for not too long. 

If you don’t have a windowsill, you can simply use another type of stand or shelf that keeps your houseplant close to the window.

If you use an artificial sort of light such as a fluorescent light, be sure to keep it at least 5cm away from the houseplant and keep it on for 16 hours at most. The wattage of the bulb(s) shouldn’t exceed 40 watts, for optimum growth.

Spread the Word!

Free Plant Care & Gardening Guides