How To Make a Wandering Jew More Bushy

Wandering Jew plants are unique plants among the creeping plant species. While growing and caring for this plant is relatively easy, making it look how you want can be challenging, especially if you want it to be full and bushy.

Here’s how to make a wandering Jew bushier:

  1. Pinch off the stems.
  2. Take cuttings and put them in the same container.
  3. Give the plant more sunlight.
  4. Repot the plant.
  5. Remove dried-out or discolored leaves.
  6. Avoid overwatering.
  7. Fertilize the plant properly.

The rest of this article will go over how you can make your wandering Jew plant bushier in greater detail.

1. Pinch Off the Stems

One of the best features of the wandering Jew plant is its fast-growing nature. However, with fast growth comes long tendrils and, frequently, legginess. Leggy plants tend to be less bushy, which isn’t what most prefer out of their wandering Jew.

A great way to make a wandering Jew bushier is to pinch off the stems—or, in other words, prune the plant. As wandering Jews tend to trail, pinching off the long tendrils to a more manageable size will produce a bushier look.

When you prune a stem, it will likely produce two or more new stems. Pinching the stems will encourage more growth in your plant, which will also contribute to making it bushier.

Simply pinch off the leggy stems just below a leaf node to promote more growth.

What to Do With the Pinched-off Stems

After you prune your wandering Jew, you’ll have some cuttings left over, but don’t throw them away! You can use these cuttings to create more wandering Jew plants.

Here are a few ideas of what to do with your pinched-off stems:

  • Give the cuttings away to a friend. If you have other plant-lover friends, you could gift them your cuttings so they can grow their own wandering Jews. Who doesn’t love a free plant?
  • Grow more wandering Jew plants yourself. Creating more wandering Jews from cuttings will allow you to grow your plant collection.
  • Add the cuttings to your compost. If you don’t need any more plants or don’t have plant-loving friends, adding the wandering Jew to your compost gives the pinched-off stems some purpose.

2. Take Cuttings and Put Them in the Same Container

Another way to make your wandering Jew bushier is to pinch the stems and add them back into the same container.

You can pinch off or prune the plant and propagate it in water beforehand. Wandering Jews propagate wonderfully in water and can even live in water for a long time.

However, if you go with this method, it’s essential to ensure that the wandering Jew plant is healthy and the cutting taken from the plant is also healthy. Adding a diseased or dying plant cutting back to the same container won’t give your plant the bushy look you crave. In fact, it could harm the plant instead.

If you decide to use this method, I recommend regularly pinching the plant to promote new growth. Planting new cuttings and pinching leggy stems will result in a full, bushy plant.

Pro-tip: If you haven’t handled this plant before, wear gloves when pinching the stems using your fingers. The plant secretions are known to cause skin irritation in some people.

Also, when pinching for propagation, use sterile shears to cut the plant at an angle of 45° to help the cutting root successfully and prevent the cut part on the mother plant from being infected.

How to Propagate in Water

Propagating a wandering Jew plant in water is easy. If you want to add another cutting to your plant’s pot to make it bushier, this method will give you new plants in no time.

To propagate a wandering Jew in water, follow these steps:

  1. Take a cutting from an existing plant. Aim for a 4-6 inch (10-15 cm) cutting for better chances of rooting it successfully. Also, ensure the cutting is healthy, and the leaves aren’t dried or discolored. Cut at about half an inch (1.27 cm) below a node.
  2. Fill a container with tepid distilled water. Ideally, the container should be deep enough to prevent the end of the cutting from touching the bottom. A good rule of thumb is to submerge the bottom 2-3 inches (5-7.6 cm) of the cutting in the water, so remove the bottom leaves.
  3. Place the cutting in the water. No leaves should be left submerged in the water, as they can rot. If the container has a narrow mouth, the upper leaves should be able to hold the plant’s weight to keep the cut end from touching the bottom of the container.
  4. Leave the setup near a bright window. It can sit next to an eastern window for gentle morning light. However, if you only have a southern or western window, you can hang a sheer curtain on it to filter the sun’s rays or keep the container about 5 feet (1.5 m) away from the window. Give the container a half-turn (180°) every time you change the water.
  5. Replace the water every 3-5 days. Wandering Jew cuttings will typically begin to root in water within a week.
  6. Once the roots are 2 inches (5 cm) long, move the cutting to the soil. Plant the cutting in a potting mix rich in organic matter. You can also amend an all-purpose potting mix with acidic compost or peat moss.

3. Give the Plant More Sunlight

One of the main reasons for a wandering Jew plant to be leggy is insufficient sunlight. A leggy plant isn’t always a bad thing, as vine-like plants only show that the plant is continuing to grow. However, if a plant is leggy due to lack of sunlight, then it’s a problem.

If your wandering Jew looks weak, limp, and the leaves are losing their color, it probably needs more light. Wandering Jews are supposed to be thick-stemmed. If the stems are thin and long, you know you have a more severe problem.

Your wandering Jew needs adequate light to grow, whether it’s indoors or outdoors. Although wandering Jews prefer bright, indirect light, they can stand a few hours a day in direct sunlight.

Unfortunately, giving your wandering Jew the proper sunlight can be tedious, as they’re relatively picky. They will still grow with a bit of neglect, but their appearance will be dull.

Do They Like Sun or Shade?

Wandering Jew plants like the shade. While they can still grow in direct light, it can burn their leaves. Filtered sunlight indoors or partial shade outdoors (with protection from midday sun) is ideal for them to grow properly.

Since wandering Jews do well in partial shade, many people prefer to have them as houseplants, as finding the perfect shady area outdoors can be a bit tricky.

Finding the right balance indoors to keep them from becoming leggy requires trial and error and can greatly depend on your home’s setup (i.e., window positioning, light source, etc.). Find a spot in your home that receives filtered light during the day and observe how your wandering Jews respond for a few weeks.

Mature plants will need to be rotated regularly for an even and bushy growth. Since wandering Jews grow fast, you must give it a 90-180° turn every time you water it.

4. Repot the Plant

Repotting your wandering Jew plant in a bigger pot and better soil can do wonders. If you want your plant to be bushier, it might need more room to grow or better-quality soil.

Wandering Jews like to be rootbound, which means they don’t need repotting often or even at all. However, repotting can make a difference in the overall look of the plant. If your wandering Jew is currently in a small pot, putting it in a bigger pot will give it more room to grow.

I recommend potting a wandering Jew in a pot that’s at least 10-12 inches (25-30 cm) wide. This will give it enough room to branch out for a bushier look without letting it grow to the point where it becomes unmanageable.

Giving your wandering Jew suitable soil is also important. A standard houseplant potting mix, such as the Miracle-Gro Houseplant Potting Mix from Amazon.com, will work fine. This mix is recommended for wandering Jews in particular, as it contains all of the essential nutrients that will allow it to thrive into a bushier plant.

5. Remove Dried Out or Discolored Leaves

Dried-out or discolored leaves aren’t doing your wandering Jew plant any favors. While you might want your plant to be bushier, these leaves only take up space where other, healthier leaves could grow. Pinching these leaves off is essential.

By removing unhealthy leaves, you’re giving the plant space to branch out more, which will make the plant bushier. Additionally, removing discolored or dried-out leaves will significantly improve the plant’s appearance.

6. Avoid Overwatering

As with sunlight, wandering Jews can be picky when it comes to watering. It’s easy for the soil to become waterlogged, and waterlogged soil can quickly cause root and stem rot.

Overwatered wandering Jews can result in a leggy, non-bushy appearance. It’s best to only water them when the soil is partially dry.

A good rule of thumb is to water your wandering Jew plant thoroughly and allow the top 2 inches (5 cm) to dry before watering it again. If you’re not sure, stick your finger into the soil. If the soil feels dry, water it. If it’s still moist, wait a few more days while checking the soil regularly until it’s dry enough.

Also, water the soil directly and avoid getting the foliage wet. A bushy wandering Jew’s leaves can remain wet for too long, making them susceptible to damage.

7. Fertilize the Plant Properly

Although wandering Jews don’t necessarily need to be fertilized, they can benefit from it, especially if you’re trying to make it more bushy.

Fertilization during the growing seasons (spring and summer) can promote new growth. If you try fertilizing in the fall or winter, you’ll notice that the new growth is weak and leggy, which is the opposite of what you need if you want a bushier plant.

You can give your Wandering Jew plant diluted liquid fertilizer every two weeks during the growing season using 10-10-10 fertilizer. This will provide your plant with the necessary nutrients.

However, if your plant seems to be doing well and you just want it to be bushier, I recommend using other methods, such as pruning, before adding fertilizer. Too much fertilizer can harm the plant, so be cautious.

Conclusion

Wandering Jews are beautiful to look at and easy to care for. While some wandering Jews are long and vine-y, others are short and bushy. If you want a short and bushy wandering Jew plant, it will need a bit more care.

The best way to make a wandering Jew bushier is to pinch the stems to promote more growth. Making sure your plant gets the right amount of sunlight and water, is in the correct pot, and is appropriately fertilized will also help.

Dr. Moritz Picot

Dr. Moritz Picot is a horticulture enthusiast and the founder of TheGrowingLeaf.com, where he serves as the lead content writer. He established the website in 2022 as a valuable resource for both gardening aficionados and beginners, compiling all the gardening tips he has accumulated over the past 25 years. Alex has a passion for nurturing plants, transforming backyards into inviting spaces, and sharing his knowledge with the world.

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