Why Succulents Grow Tall and What to Do About it

Why Succulents Grow Tall and What to Do About it

You love succulents. Of course, that’s why you bought them. Also, you are happy since you can plant them anywhere, from paving stones, flowerbeds, containers, and nooks. But after a while, you begin noticing some changes. The succulents are not as green and healthy as before. Instead, they look stretched, thin, pale, leggy, and weak.

The result is, they stop being attractive. Then you become stressed, you even develop panic attacks, since you are attached to them. But don’t worry as this problem is common. The best part is, you can rectify this mistake and get your succulents, healthy and fleshy as before. This article covers the reasons why succulents grow tall and how you can solve this issue, Read on to get the insights.

The following are some of the reasons your succulents are way out of line!

Why Succulents Grow Tall and What to Do About it
Attractive Succulents @aubreys_plants

Succulent’s Nature

It’s hard to fight nature. Succulents come in different sizes and shapes. Mostly Indoors, succulents grow horizontally, and at a slower rate. Most will grow naturally, but there are exceptions. Instead, they would grow at a faster pace. These kinds of succulents need some cutting to ensure that they fit in the space which you have provided.

You can always buy another type of succulent if you are not satisfied with the ones you have.

The Lack of Sunlight

Yes, your succulents don’t get enough sunlight or grow under, hence they cannot perform photosynthesis. Photosynthesis is the process by which green plants make their food. They use light energy from sunlight, carbon dioxide, and water. They later convert this into plant energy which they use in their growth, flowering, reproduction, and development of new roots and leaves.

When they lack sunlight, they wouldn’t be able to photosynthesize, thus resulting in smaller and lighter succulents than the average size.

Signs that Your Succulents Don’t Have Enough Sunlight

When you notice that your succulent is growing toward a particular direction, then it’s seeking the light. This process is known as etiolation. Just like animals, plants also move. Not literally, like walking, or crawling, or even flying. But they move. Though not evident, this gesture signifies a plant is seeking comfort. In this case, succulents craving for sunlight. 

Also, you will notice that the succulent starts leaving spaces between the leaves. Unfortunately, plants that don’t receive sunlight are prone to wither and die quickly.

The discoloring of leaves- instead of their usual green color, they start turning pale.

 

Why Succulents Grow Tall and What to Do About it
Care About Your Succulents @succulentsssss

How to Control Your Succulents from Growing Tall

Grow Your Succulents Where they Can Access Sunlight

Succulents look better when they get adequate sunlight. When you’ve noticed the plants start growing towards a specific direction, then move them to that side so that they receive the light they need. You can relocate the plant near the window, that’s prone to the most sunlight.

Alternatively, you can take them outside for a few hours each day. This ensures that the plants get enough sunlight, or use can use a grow light and let it act as a supplement. We prefer the light below for our succulents.

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Time to Propagate

Propagating your succulent for the first time can be scary. At first, you will think you are hurting the plant, but in the real sense, you are helping it. Don’t feel guilty. You are only offering the plant new beginnings. Soon, it will have thick stems, dense leaves, and intense color.

Trimming

For the plant to remain in perfect shape and size, the first step is pruning. This will ensure it‘s desirable and attractive. You need a sharp pair of scissors before cutting the flowers, stems, and foliage when they elongate. The best part is, you can grow the cuttings, meaning, more healthy succulent for you. 

Why Succulents Grow Tall and What to Do About it
Trimming Your Succulents @eemmalynn

We prefer shears like below for a variety of our pruning needs including getting propagation materials.

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VIVOSUN 6.5 Inch Hand Pruning Shears
$5.04

These quality snips come with stainless steel precision-sharpened blades and are ready to tackle all of your deadheading, trimming, and shaping needs.

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Plant the Cuttings

First, you need to dry the cuttings for a few days, before embarking on planting them. This gives the succulents enough time to lose moisture and develop pink roots. Then, remove the layer of the topsoil in the container you planted the succulent before. Also, you will want to buy a formulated soil mix meant for succulents and cactus. Get a loose mix, to ensure that water drains out so you never have to worry about your plant rotting.

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Although not necessary, you can use coir, as it’s environmentally friendly, with a neutral PH. Actually, it increases the rate at which succulents hold nutrients and also improves aeration. You can use small amounts of compost since they enhance soil nutrients resulting in strong, healthy roots and stronger plants.

Lastly

Arrange the cuttings before planting. Place the bigger cuttings at the edge of the pot. Leave for at least three days, before you start watering. Later water once a week and you can adjust according to your conditions. You can apply fertilizer if you want

Cuttings start to produce roots in a couple of days or a period of 2 to 3 weeks. You don’t want all your efforts to be futile after the planting process. The least, you can do is ensure the plant gets adequate light. When the new shoots start sprouting, place them in a place where they get enough indirect sunlight than before. Or, you can use the grow light, to assist you in the process.

Why Succulents Grow Tall and What to Do About it
Tools for Care @succulentcarekit

You might also like to take a look at “How To Prune Succulents” for a full guide on trimming your succulents at home.

Fixing, those long and elongated succulents is possible. As much as the process can be robust, the results are incredible. Thank you for reading! Let us know in the comments below your techniques to control the growth of your succulent. We’d love to add new techniques to our arsenal!

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If you liked this read you’re going to love our full in-depth ebooks! With so many of our succulent lovers asking for more, we listened and can’t wait to share it with you here! With our very detailed ebooks you’ll get more information than these short articles, some ebooks are 30+ pages, perfect for a weekend read. 

Happy Planting! ?

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How to Trim Succulents Successfully (Guide)

How to Trim Succulents

Trimming your succulents sounds a little intimidating—who wants to take a sharp knife to their favorite plants? But your succulents can really benefit from a light trim every now and then, just like your hair!

Trimming down your succulents helps maintain their shape so that they don’t get too tall, leggy, or overgrown. If you want your succulents to look cute and compact, you’re going to have to get comfortable cutting into them!

But don’t worry—trimming your succulents is easier and less scary than you think, and we’re going to guide you through the whole process. Keep reading if you want to learn how to trim succulents!

How to trim your Succulent
Time for a trimming @concrete_gardens

When to Trim Your Succulents

The best time to trim your succulents is at the beginning of their growing season. Most succulents experience new growth in the spring, so ideally that’s when you should trim them.

Spring is the best time to prune your succulents, with a set of pruning shears like these, because they tend to get leggy and long during the winter. Succulents often start growing tall when they’re not getting enough sunlight. They reach and stretch towards the nearest light source to try to get closer. This causes them to lose their nice and compact shape. This tends to happen more frequently in the winter when the days are shorter and there’s not as much sunlight streaming through the windows.

Our Pick
Fiskars Steel Pruning Shears
$8.99

Ideal for cutting stems and light branches. An easy-open lock protects the blade during transport and storage.

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To fix this problem, you’ll actually have to behead your succulents! It sounds scary, but it’s super easy to do. Your succulent will be better off afterward! Here’s how to do it.

How to trim your Succulent
Sprouting succulent @iamursucculent

Beheading Succulents

Branching succulents like Echeveria, Crassula, Aeonium, or Graptopetalum tend to benefit the most from beheading. If you have an Echeveria that’s looking tall and overgrown, it’s time to break out the shears and cut off its head! Once you remove the top of your succulent, you can replant it in the soil and it won’t look so stretched out and leggy anymore.

Grab a sharp pair of shears or a gardening knife. You should also wear a pair of gloves—some succulents have thorns and others have milky sap that can be irritating to your skin. Better safe than sorry!

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Before you start, you should also have some rubbing alcohol on hand to sterilize your cutting tool. Rub your shears down with alcohol before you start cutting to prevent your plant from becoming infected. It’s advisable to also clean and sterilize your shears before using them on any of your other plants. If the first plant you cut is infected, you don’t want it to spread to the other plants in your collection!

We also found the rubbing alcohol helps with purging pesky mealybugs. Read our article, How to Get Rid of Mealybugs, to find out more.

How to Trim Succulents
Have you mastered trimming your succulents yet? @thesimplygoodlife

Now take a look at your plant and decide where you want to make your cut. The cut should be an inch or two below where the rosette or top growth of your succulent ends. You want to include a little bit of stem so your plant doesn’t topple over when you go to plant it, but not so much that your plant will stick too far out of the soil as it did before.

The cut on the stem should be straight across or at a slight angle. It’s been noted that cutting it at an angle decreases the chances of infection, but we’re not sure how scientifically accurate that is!

Keep the leftover stem instead of discarding it. If you replant it, it might just sprout some new growth!

Leave the stem and the top of your plant out to dry for a few days, and then plant them in some succulent soil. Use a spray bottle, like this one, to moist the dry soil near your plants with water. This will encourage them to root. Then after a few weeks when they take root, you can water them normally.

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$6.10 ($2.03 / Count)
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To make sure that you develop promising water- scheduling to keep the soil with optimum moisture. You might want to refer to our article about watering succulents

Make sure you move them to a sunny spot once they’re rooted. You wouldn’t want them to start growing tall and stretching out again because you placed them somewhere without enough sunlight!

 

How to trim your Succulent
Helping them keep that compact shape @oursuccielife

Other Reasons to Trim Your Succulents

Another reason why you might want to trim your succulent is to redirect its new growth. You can train some succulents to grow the way you want just by trimming them. If you see a branch or bud that’s growing in the right direction, trim your succulent right above it and it should start growing that way. This technique is often used with woody succulents like jade plants to help shape them.

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You can also trim succulents, like jade plants, to keep them small. To do this, you should cut back the entire plant. You can remove up to a third of its size once a year in the spring. Cut all of its branches back to the size you want, making sure your cuts are near a leaf or lateral branch.

Another reason why you might need to often trim your succulents is to remove any dead, diseased, or damaged parts. Succulents are pretty good at compartmentalizing the damage from diseases and keeping them from spreading, but you should still cut off any infected parts. You don’t want to risk it!

Removing dead leaves and plant matter from your succulents will let them stay healthy and help promote new growth. So make sure you remove them every fall and spring! Get a pair of precise tweezers, like these, to ensure you’re grabbing only what you need. These tweezer came in handy so many times for us here in the office, we saved so many succulents this way.

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How to trim your Succulent
Variation of succulents @vibeyourway

That’s all you need to know to trim your succulents, give them new growth, and keep them looking compact, cute and healthy!

If you need to trim your succulents this spring, use our advice, and let us know how it goes!

If you’re in search of what additional tools can be used when tending to your succulent babies, we have an article about the best gardening tools for succulents. Stock up on all the necessities, we just recently did from Prime Day.

By the way, we know Prime Day is over now but we still want to mention… This post is sponsored by Amazon Audible! They are offering all of our Succulent City community an exclusive offer of 2 FREE Ebooks when signing up for a free trial! You can sign up for a free trial here! What could be more relaxing than listening to your favorite book while tending to your succulents?

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And if you have any more questions about trimming succulents, you can ask them in the Succulent City Plant Lounge. There are tons of other succulent lovers in there who can answer your questions and help you out!

If you liked this one, you’re going to love our full in-depth ebooks! With so many of our succulent lovers asking for more, we listened and can’t wait to share it with you here! With our very detailed ebooks, you’ll get more information than these short articles, some ebooks are 30+ pages, perfect for a weekend read.

Happy planting!

Saving a Stretched-out Succulent

Succulents do not need much care to thrive, but they may stretch out or become leggy when they do get a sufficient amount of sunlight, and that distorts their appearance. This condition is known as etiolation, and it affects other houseplants as well. Saving a Stretched-out Succulent is really important.

If the disfiguration is not too much, you can save your succulents. Please stick with us as we show you how to prevent and protect your succulents from stretching out. This article gives you ways for Saving a Stretched-out Succulent.

Saving a Stretched-out Succulent-SC
Stretched Succulent

How to Know if Your Succulents are Stretching Out

Here are the ways to know if your succulents are stretching out and need to be saved:

Sudden Rapid Growth

Most succulents grow gradually under normal conditions. However, when they do not get enough light, they increase in any light source direction. This rapid growth results in elongated stems with fewer, widely spaced leaves. This elongated stem increases the succulent’s chances of getting light, which is a requirement for photosynthesis to take place.

Saving a Stretched-out Succulent-How to Know if Your Succulents are Stretching Out-Downward-Facing Leaves-SC
Etiolated Succulent: IG@houseplantjournal

Downward-Facing Leaves

Succulents like Sempervivums and Echeverias have upward-facing leaves that grow in the form of tufts. When these leaves start pointing downwards, that indicates a deprivation of light. Your succulents having downward-pointing leaves is the first sign of etiolation.

Pale Green Appearance

The green color you usually see in most succulents is because of a substance called chlorophyll. Without adequate sunlight, chlorophyll cannot be formed. And without chlorophyll, your succulents will have a pale green appearance.

Saving a Stretched-out Succulent-How to Prevent Succulents from Becoming Stretched-out-SC
IG@succy_chronicles

How to Prevent Succulents from Becoming Stretched-out

If your succulents become stretched-out due to inadequate sunlight, ensure they are getting adequate sunlight wherever they are located. It would be great if your succulents can get at least five hours of daylight daily.
Indoor succulents have a higher tendency to become leggy than outdoor succulents. So, you need to move your indoor succulents to the brightest location in your home. If possible, take your indoor succulents outside to get an adequate supply of sunlight. If the light in your home is not sufficient to stable plant growth, get a grow light to meet your succulents’ lighting needs.

Also, ensure nothing is covering your succulents. Taller succulents may be blocking smaller ones from receiving adequate sunlight, and that will lead to etiolation. You can report the tall succulents to give the smaller ones access to sunlight.

You can also rotate the pot regularly to ensure all succulents get an adequate amount of sunlight. If the sun hits your pot at an angle, the succulents in that direction will get enough sunlight and may get burned, depending on the intensity. In contrast, succulents in other rules will become leggy. To prevent this from happening, rotate your succulent pot from time to time.

Last but not least, do not overfeed your succulents. If you apply more fertilizer than your succulents require, they will stretch out and grow weak. You do not want a situation where your succulents are increasing at a rate they cannot support. Always follow the dosage the fertilizer manufacturers recommend for a particular succulent. Instead of fertilizing your succulents during the winter, when growth usually slows down (dormancy), it is best to fertilize during the spring

How to Save a Stretched-out Succulent

To save your leggy succulents, you have to provide more light or trim the succulent. Let us shed more light on them:

Provide More Light

Plants stretching out is a result of insufficient light. When your succulents are not getting adequate sunlight, they stretch towards any light source to get more light.

Moving your succulents to a sunnier and brighter environment will help stop etiolation. If you grow your succulents outdoors, ensure that you do not leave them under direct sunlight for too long; otherwise, they will suffer sunburn. The best way to go is to increase the amount of light your succulents receive gradually. You can bring your succulents out in the morning when the sunlight is not all that intense. After a few weeks, you can then introduce your succulents to the afternoon sun.

For indoor succulents that are stretching out, you can place them close to a window or any spot that gets an adequate supply of light in your home or office. If there is nowhere else to move the succulents indoors, or if they are already in the brightest location in your home, you should give the succulents some outdoor exposure. Then again, if, for some reason, you cannot move your succulents outdoors, get a grow light to provide adequate lighting for your plants.

Once your succulents start getting adequate light, they will gradually recover. Note that succulents cannot recover from etiolation overnight. You have to be patient with the succulents and do not expect them to bloom like before.

Saving a Stretched-out Succulent-How to Save a Stretched-out Succulent-Trim Your Leggy Succulents-SC
Trimming Leggy Succulents

Trim Your Leggy Succulents

If your succulents naturally grow leggy, you can trim them to maintain their appearance. If you decide not to cut your succulent that stretches out naturally, its health will not be affected.
Trimming leggy succulents is an excellent way of propagating them and increasing your collection. When you cut a succulent, its base where you got the cuttings from will keep growing and create younger succulents along the stem.

To trim a leggy succulent, cut the stem, leaving one or two inches. Keep the stem cuttings in a cool, dry place away from the sun for one or two days. You may have to keep the stem cuttings longer if you are in a humid environment.

Give the stem cuttings some days to heal before sticking them in a pot with good drainage soil. The best soil composition to use is a 1:1 mix of cactus and perlite.
When the soil is dry, water the succulent weekly or even monthly, depending on the water requirements.
The stem cuttings take about two or more weeks to root. As the succulent grows, increase the sunlight exposure and reduce the watering frequency.

Saving a Stretched-out Succulent-needs sunlight-SC
Succulent needs sunlight: IG@succulent.99

Conclusion

If your succulents are not getting a minimum of five hours of light daily, they will start stretching out to increase their light intake sooner than later. You can either increase the succulent light intake or trim your leggy succulent to save it.