Asked on Nov 06, 2013

Unruly and Rebellious Houseplants! How Do I Control Them?

Teresa D
by Teresa D
Ok, so I have several houseplants that appear to have gone rogue. They aren't growing like the image on the tag when I first got them. The first one started out small enough. Then it got taller and two more sprouted. I had it out on the deck all season and it's top heavy so a nice wind blows it over. Of course, it's in the house now. How tall is this going to get? How can I control it? I'm not sure where to cut it. (see close up in 3rd pic)
The next one is a Diffenbachia (something like that). It grew upright in the picture. Well, it grew upright until it was too tall and then fell over the side of the pot, despite the wire stands I put in the pot to help hold it up. After it fell over, it started to turn upward, towards the light. I have to admit, I kinda like how full it looks now, but is it supposed to do that? (tried to get a close up of how it turned in the 6th pic)
The last plant, not sure of the name. But again, it was upright and bushy in the pic. It grew upright and really sparse and leggy. I've tied these up as well and they fall over and seem to be reaching for the sun as well. This one is not so full and pretty as the other.
I guess my question is the same for all of these ... How do I control how they grow? Should I prune them a specific way or something? What makes a plant grow leggy and sparse? Too much/little sun?
I think this is a kind of Dracaena?
Close up
I think this is called an arrow head plant. It started out kinda compact.
Close up of how it is reaching out and turning upward. (arrowhead plant) I turn the pot but it just does the same thing on the other side.
  12 answers
  • Douglas Hunt Douglas Hunt on Nov 06, 2013
    If I had a dollar for every plant that didn't grow like the tag, I would be writing this from Tahiti. Plants generally grow long and leggy because of too little sun. The dracaena definitely looks like it needs a bigger pot. To keep the arrowhead bushy, you need to prune out the old climbing stems (which you can propagate). Otherwise, it needs some sort of trellis for support.
  • Welcome to the world of houseplants when they love you. LOL I, too, have an arrowhead houseplant and it has been unruly since my BFF gave it to me over 7 years ago. No matter what I do it does this. I am thinking of hanging it to pass it off as a hanging plant because it takes up a rather large area on my desk. They are easily rooted in water and love being outdoors in the shade in summer. For the bad news: or good news if you really love the plants. The dracaena deremensis Janet Craig is one of the most popular houseplants because it cleans the air and also removes formaldehyde from the home. It can grow 10' tall!!!!! and yes I have seen it 10'. You can trim it in spring but be wary that when you cut the stalk at any height it will sprout off the cutting and produce a more bushy plant. I have very unruly houseplants too but I figure one day (been 14+ years and I have not yet) cut it back to make more of a bush (sentimental attachment). The diffenbachia grows like that too if put outside. My BFF has one variety that grows and one time let it grow 8' tall. It too is easily rooted in water and you cut it at the "joint" where you see the "roots". One good thing is that the air in your home is being purified. they all will lose leaves and look a bit droopy after you bring them because they do love the outdoors. Good luck!
  • Victoria Muzik Victoria Muzik on Nov 06, 2013
    keep pinching the new growths so the plant gets new shoots at the bottom....Repot the larger ones you may even have to separate into two pots, not too much larger of a pot,some plant roots get shockey.
  • Catherine Smith Catherine Smith on Nov 08, 2013
    Yes, to all of the above and "roses" to you. Those plants look wonderfully healthy and hale. Maybe they didn't care for that picture? LOL
  • Theresa Stewart Theresa Stewart on Nov 08, 2013
    I have divided dieffebachia before and that looks like what needs to be done to yours. Also take cuttings and root for more plants or gifts to friends :-) After taking cuttings your Dieff will then start growing from that cut point, sometimes branching out more than once. Make sure you have them in the proper sized pots also. :-)
  • Stephen Andrew Stephen Andrew on Nov 08, 2013
    Lol my house plants always accuse me of going rogue because I seem to kill them. Yours are gorgeous. I'd put them all together and have a little interior jungle. But that's from a design perspective, not botanical. Haha.
  • Denise Vieira Denise Vieira on Nov 08, 2013
    These plants are very healthy. Need to be staked as they grow, use green plant stakes around a group of stems & tie loosely with natural twine. If you do it well, the stakes won't be noticed. Change to longer stakes as they grow. You can do it!
  • Mikell Paulson Mikell Paulson on Nov 08, 2013
    These plants that you have are really great! The first plant really needs to be in a bigger pot for sure! The other one needs to have the yellowing leaves removed. It might not be an up right. I went through several before I got an up right, But it does need some cleaning up! If you want to start more or share just cut the plant and poke it in a new pot and keep damp! They will grow like weeds! Good luck and be happy they are growing good! :)
  • Buster Evans Buster Evans on Nov 08, 2013
    Beautiful Plants ... You're doing something right or they wouldn't be this "happy"!! Trim and shape the arrowhead back to where you are comfortable and pleased with its looks... save the cuttings and root them they can always go in another room or at a different window.. THe first Plant does need a new larger pot .. Im not sure how to tell you to prune it, but the staking suggestions could be your best answer... Plus you could divide it up into smaller pots too IF you want to risk doing that .. Usually when one is doing really well its best to Not divide because it could shock the plant... but if you divide successfully you could have twins for either side of a doorway or large window... whatever you decide let us see the results later..
  • Teresa D Teresa D on Nov 09, 2013
    I guess I'm going to have to buy a larger pot for that first one. I just might divide it though. It's actually about 4 or 5 stalks growing out of it ... started out with just 3. I like it full though, so I might just put the whole thing in a bigger pot. Just don't want it to fall over anymore. lol The second one is still yellowing. It started once I brought it inside. It may be angry with me. Also, I'm pretty sure my dog peed on it before I brought it in (rascal!) so I rinsed it pretty well before I moved it. Maybe I overdid it with the water. I haven't watered it since. It has been about 2-3 weeks. I have even more yellow leaves. So I will remove those per your advice. I will try to remember to post After pics once I get them cleaned up and repotted. I've got another plant that's falling over because it's too tall. I meant to include a pic of it too. I used metal stakes with the hoops to no avail. I guess I will try another kind. Thanks for all your advice guys!
    • @Teresa D I never go up more than 2" when I repot plants. Remove yellowing leaves and this happens a lot when you bring them in~leaves turn and/or fall off until they get used to the climate in the house. Try a tomato cage for the plant and if you cannot work it cut the cage and then put it around the plant and tie back together with plastic ties or wire.good luck!
  • Tonya Tonya on Nov 11, 2014
    I am extremely envious of your successful green hands. I adore houseplants but struggle when I bring them inside. What do you feed them and how often??? I gotta know. Thanks. Oh , sorry I can't help you.
  • Denise Rudd Denise Rudd on Jan 04, 2017

    I got my green thumb from my mother and my plants are so unruly but I just let them do their thing. Here are a few of many.