What to do When Succulent Leaves are Splitting?

What to do when leaves are splitting

Remember that day when you brought your first succulent home? You couldn’t take your eyes off that cute, little Echeveria.

A few moons later, what started out as a one plant show has grown to a collection of exotic cacti and rare succulents. And as the varieties have increased, so has the gardening pains.

If you’re not battling with mealy bugs, then you’re either beheading your plants due to etiolation or having your succulents collapse on you due to root rot. Whichever the case, growing succulents is an adventurous road trip.

For succulent leaves, splitting is a sign of too much care – for a larger part. Ironical, right? 

But you definitely don’t want split leaves. So, find out the one maintenance regimen you need to cut back on and how to further salvage the situation.

Let’s dive in.

Succulent leaves splitting

Why Succulent Leaves Are Splitting

Watering is one of the necessary maintenance routines for plants – for obvious reasons. But for succulent plants, too much of it will cause splitting of leaves.

By nature, these plants are adapted to surviving in scarce water conditions. Their transpiration rates are way lower than your average plant; meaning that any drop that travels up their system is stored (in the leaves) as it awaits utilization.

Now, in conditions of abundance, so much water is coming in leading to an excess. But remember the succulents here have no mechanism of getting rid of it. They can only store. As the water accumulates in the leaves, it leads to increased turgor pressure which splits them.

Additionally, succulent leaves will split if the plant is in a potting mix with poor drainage.

Either way, the aesthetic value of such a plant is definitely on the verge of being lost. Here’s what you can do about it.

What to do When Succulent leaves are Splitting

As you have already guessed from above, reducing the watering frequency is a worthwhile step to take for succulent leaves that are splitting.

As much as it is a step in the right direction, it might just not be effective. The plant has already taken up more water than it can store/ use up. Adding it more, albeit at spread out intervals can still prove detrimental depending on the soil mixture.

Even if you have the right soil mixture, the fact remains that the plant has excess water. And there is no way of telling if this water would have been used up by the time you decide to water the plant again.

Here are more effective tips to apply in your fight against leaf splitting.

  • If you have the right potting mixture (good drainage), completely discontinue watering for a week or so. For this period, a well-draining soil mix should be dry for a larger part. Test for this by dipping your finger into the pot. If the the soil is still moist, it’s time to move on to the next step below.
  • For soil with poor drainage, remove the plant from its current place and rid it of all the wet soil. Put the plant somewhere dry with enough light (away from direct sunlight) for a period of up to a week. After that, replant it, this time using potting soil with good drainage capabilities. Wait for a week before you start watering. Keep the watering at minimal and the sessions far apart.
Succulent leaves

How to NEVER Have Splitting Succulent Leaves

You can take a proactive approach in dealing with splitting succulent leaves. Take note of the following…

Soil mix

It is imperative to choose a mix that is well-draining to eliminate any possibilities of excess water. Take note, going for commercial options is your best bet. Just purchase commercial cactus and succulent potting mix and get going.

Alternatively, you can make your own mix by combining measured quantities of potting soil, coarse sand, and pumice or perlite. To further improve drainage, plant your succulents in pots that correspond to their sizes – just leaving a small extra space. Repot them as they grow to maintain this set up.

Growth cycles

Succulents have different water needs at their various development stages. For instance, they need a lot of watering when growing. This has to be alternated with periods of a complete lack of it to partially dry out the soil.

In their dormant stage, very little water is required and therefore the potting soil should remain as dry as possible. At least half of the potting soil should be dry.

Watering frequency

This is determined by the stage of development as outlined above. In both stages, the top soil is the ultimate determinant of the right time to water.

The top part of the mix should be dry. This dryness should extend up to 2 inches into the pot if the succulent is in the growth stage. You can use your finger to measure this. Just dip it into the soil mix to see if there’s any moisture. If yes, refrain from watering until when there is a complete dryness.

We like to use a watering can like this to make things easier.


Succulent leaves splitting

Try these tips out and let us know what you think. Did your succulents recover nicely from splitting leaves or did it ultimately fall?

If you have any concerns or suggestions please let our follower base know below. No concern or suggestion is bad, if you have a problem with your succulents we’re sure there are more people who have the same problem.

Thank you so much for reading our article! If you haven’t already you should check out the snake plant article too a lot of people enjoyed this one especially. And like always happy planting friends!

Enjoyed learning about What to do When Succulent Leaves are Splitting? If so, you’ll really enjoy the ebook about The Most Common Issues Amongst Succulent Growers. With this ebook, you’ll find yourself more detailed answers that’ll help your succulent grow even better! With thousands of succulent lovers enjoying our ebooks, you don’t want to miss out on what works the best to grow your succulents.

How To Fix Succulent With Long Stem

Why does my succulent have a long stem

A long stem for a succulent can come as a huge inconvenience for a plant you were expecting not to cover so much space. (Plus it’s kind of awkward when there’s a new random stem protruding out abnormally right?)

It messes up your arrangement – if you have several plants or a beautiful succulent garden. Consequently, the beauty aspect of your plants is potentially lost.

To an extent, this defeats the whole purpose of nurturing these plants. Because you’re not just growing them for the sake of it. Yes, attending to them is fun. But the end result is what makes the whole process totally worth it.

Plus long stems don’t help it; at least not for most succulents.

If you continue reading you’ll learn all about long stems in succulents including how to fix them and prevent them from happening again.

Why my succulent has a long stem

What are the Causes of Long Stems in Succulents

Here are possible reasons why your succulents have developed long stems. Dive into these causes and see what matches your situation best.

1. Their Nature

Yeah, sometimes there is absolutely nothing wrong with your plants. Just as there are short/small varieties, a select species tend to grow long naturally. So before you dive in to implement the steps outlined below, be sure to ascertain this.

Agave is one such plant.

2. Low Light

Succulents require considerable exposure to light in order to develop as desired. So, a shortage of it will prompt the plant to stretch out in a bid to reach the nearest light source and get more of it, otherwise known as etiolation.

3. Light Source Comes from One Direction (not the boy band)

This is a tendency in every single plant species out there. A plant will always grow towards the direction from which light is coming from.

Almost as if they’re actually reaching for the light.

And your succulent is no different. Even if there is enough light coming in, the plant will stretch towards the source if the said light is not hitting your plant all around.

Like any plant, sunlight is extremely important.

Diagnosing a Long Stem

Why does my succulent have a long stem

Usually, before your succulent becomes elongated, it undergoes some changes that can serve as clues. If you’re lucky enough and have a great eye on details to note them, be sure to act up before it is too late.

See the details here…

  • The stem grows way faster than the development of new leaves. This leads to wider spaces than usual between the leaves.
  • Leaves become droopy and point downwards.

Be careful though. Suddenly blasting the plants with light could have adverse effects. Introduce it gradually so that they have enough time to adapt.

Think of how we as humans go from a dark room to a very lit room, we kind of need some time to adjust accordingly. Take the same approach with your succulents to ensure proper adaptation.

If it is too late, go ahead with the below step.

How to Fix a Long Stem

If your succulent is the short variety but it has developed a long stem, you’re out of luck as far as that plant is concerned. Because this isn’t something that can be undone. But you can end up with a few more pieces of the plant with a number of careful steps.

First off, cut off the elongated stem in line with the following precautions.

  • Use a sharp and clean pair of scissors or shears to prevent infections and unevenness in the cuts
  • Leave a couple of leaves on the base for sunlight absorption – it will bounce back faster this way
  • Be sure to carry out your cuttings before the cold weather sets in. This gives the cut stems enough time to dry properly (and root if you decide to propagate them).

We prefer these pruning shears for our trimming needs and have had great success.

Our Pick
VIVOSUN 6.5 Inch Hand Pruning Shears

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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10/26/2021 01:02 pm GMT

You don’t need to throw away the cut parts. You can use them to grow your succulent brood or babies exponentially. Follow along.

  • Cut them up some more if you still find them to be too tall. Just be sure to leave pieces that can be planted into the soil
  • Allow them to dry up (heal), which may take up to a week. This prevents any rots when you insert them into a soil mix.
  • Plant your cuttings in the appropriate potting mix (coarse sand, potting soil, and pumice). 
  • Water them at spread out intervals. Remember they’re succulents. Too much water isn’t something they grow in.

All conditions met, your new plants will start rooting in slightly less than a month. Don’t make the mistake of depriving them of getting enough sunlight this time or you’ll end up with what you started – long stems.

If you desire some starter cuttings to experiment with, this shop has a really good pack.

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10/26/2021 04:12 pm GMT

Long stems on succulents

How to Avoid Long Stems in Succulents for Good

Now, cutting your little darlings isn’t something you’d want to be often doing. That means you need to be on the lookout to never have your succulents blowing past their ideal height. Apply the following tips.

  1. Light up – especially for indoor succulents. It can be hard for them to get enough exposure to sunlight for the required duration. In such a case, a grow light will go a long way in supplementing the situation.
  2. Keep the pots going round – in cases where succulents are getting light from a particular direction, rotate the pots periodically. This way, each of them is hit by the light evenly for proper growth.
  3. Switch up positions – if you can’t access a grow light immediately, make a habit of moving your plants to positions with enough light exposure. This is mostly near sunny windows. Or in well-lit rooms.

Because of all the reasons listed above, we prefer using a grow light like below.

Our Pick
Ankace 60W Tri-Head LED Grow Light

This LED lamp has grow lights made up of 60 efficient growing LEDs (39 red and 21 blue). It meets the conditions of plant growth without sunlight. The red light promotes photosynthesis, germination, bloom, and fruit-bearing. The blue light ensures the plants take in more energy through chlorophyll synthesis to help in germination.

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10/26/2021 11:59 am GMT

To learn more about etiolation you should check here.


That’s it! Go ahead and fix that succulent with long stem and let us know how you did. Did you succulent come back to normal?

Look around. Are your succulents showing signs of developing more of them? Take the above steps as per your situation for a vibrant succulent collection.

Thanks for reading our article on this succulent with long stem topic, some of our readers were concerned so we wanted to give them a proper solution to fix their succulent concern.

Did this article help answer your succulent-care questions? We sure hope so! If not, no worries. Succulent City is devoted to aiding all succulent lovers, and that’s why we created a line of ebook guides! Check out our in-depth tips on Essential Tools for Planting the Best Succulents or even Succulent Drainage Requirements today!