Why Does My Succulent Have a Long Stem?

Kelvin M. Kelvin Mwathi on

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 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
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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
@bohoexpressions

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 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).

You don’t need to throw away the cut parts. You can use them to grow your succulents 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 relish in.

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

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.

That’s it! Go ahead and fix that elongated 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 long stem topic, some of our readers were concerned so we wanted to give them a proper solution to fix their succulent concern.

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Why Does My Succulent Have a Long Stem?