Updated: July 2, 2023

Yerba mate (Ilex paraguariensis) is a popular plant native to South America, particularly Argentina, Paraguay, and Brazil. It is well-known for its leaves, which are traditionally used for brewing a stimulating beverage with numerous health benefits. However, if you’re growing yerba mate at home, you may have noticed that your plant is growing sideways instead of straight up. In this article, we will explore the possible reasons behind this phenomenon and provide tips on how to encourage upward growth.

Insufficient Sunlight

One of the main reasons why your yerba mate plant may be growing sideways is a lack of sunlight. Yerba mate is a tropical plant and requires bright, indirect sunlight to thrive. If your plant is not receiving enough light, it may start to lean or grow sideways in an attempt to reach for more light.

To ensure proper growth, place your yerba mate plant in a location that receives at least six hours of sunlight per day. If you’re growing it indoors, consider placing it near a south-facing window or using artificial grow lights to supplement the natural light.

Uneven Watering

Another factor that can contribute to sideways growth in yerba mate plants is uneven watering. Yerba mate plants prefer consistently moist soil but can be sensitive to overwatering or underwatering. Inconsistent watering can lead to root rot or stress on the plant, causing it to grow unevenly or lean to one side.

To prevent this issue, make sure you water your yerba mate plant evenly and avoid letting the soil dry out completely between waterings. Use well-draining soil and monitor the moisture level regularly to ensure that it remains moist but not waterlogged.

Soil Nutrient Imbalance

Yerba mate plants require certain nutrients to grow properly. An imbalance in soil nutrients can affect their growth and cause them to grow sideways. If the soil lacks essential nutrients like nitrogen, phosphorus, or potassium, the plant may exhibit stunted growth or unusual positioning.

To promote healthy upward growth, fertilize your yerba mate plant with a balanced fertilizer specifically formulated for houseplants. Follow the instructions on the fertilizer package carefully and avoid over-fertilizing, as this can lead to nutrient burn and further damage the plant.

Lack of Support

Yerba mate plants have delicate stems that may not be able to support themselves as they grow taller. Without proper support, the plant may start to bend or lean sideways. Providing adequate support is crucial for encouraging upward growth in yerba mate plants.

Consider using stakes or trellises to support your yerba mate plant as it grows. Gently tie the stems to the support structure using soft ties or twine, being careful not to constrict or damage the plant. This will help keep the plant upright and prevent it from growing sideways.

Pruning Techniques

Pruning can also play a role in encouraging upward growth in yerba mate plants. Regularly pruning your plant can help redirect its energy towards vertical growth and promote a more compact and upright shape.

When pruning yerba mate plants, focus on removing any dead, damaged, or overcrowded branches. Additionally, trim back any excessively long branches that may be contributing to the sideways growth. By selectively pruning your plant, you can encourage new growth that is more upright and balanced.


If your yerba mate plant is growing sideways instead of straight up, there are several factors to consider. Insufficient sunlight, uneven watering, soil nutrient imbalances, lack of support, and incorrect pruning techniques can all contribute to this issue. By addressing these factors and providing the necessary care and support, you can encourage your yerba mate plant to grow upright and thrive. Remember to monitor your plant regularly and make adjustments as needed to ensure optimal growth and health.