– What to do with stretched out succulents

I often receive emails from fretful readers inquiring about why their succulents have changed in appearance since they bought them.

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Most succulents tend to grow taller and become more spread out over time, especially when grown indoors. This is a very common phenomenon.

In this post, I will demonstrate the steps to take in order to avoid succulents from stretching out, as well as provide guidance for successfully restoring those succulents which have already begun to stretch.

While succulents are typically slow-growing, they can appear to rapidly stretch out when they lack sufficient light. This phenomenon is scientifically known as etiolation.

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Lack of Sunlight

Succulents will reach for light if they are not receiving enough sunlight. You may notice the plant beginning to turn and lean toward the area of brightest light.

The plant will get bigger as it matures, with the leaves further apart and the stem growing taller.

Generally, lack of sunlight will cause the leaves of the succulent to be smaller and lighter in color than usual, as well as make it turn green or make it lose the intensity of its original hue.

Observe how the Echeveria ‘Lola’ is beginning to lean towards the light and is not as vibrant as when I captured the image for the top dressing post.

It is common for succulents grown indoors to stretch out due to lack of light, but this can also occur when succulents are planted outdoors and are receiving too little sunlight.

Is it unhealthy?

Is it unhealthy?

In the absence of light, their lifespan will be drastically reduced.

Check out the video below (and don’t forget to subscribe to our YouTube channel for more great content) to find out how to keep your succulents from getting too tall!

How to save stretched out succulents

Don’t worry if your succulent has become stretched out; it will not return to its original small size and shape.

One way to restore a small and well-kept garden is to prune back overgrown plants and remove any dead or dying foliage.

Begin by trimming the succulent’s upper portion with a strong pair of scissors. Be sure to leave at least two inches of the stem with two to three leaves intact to allow for optimal sun exposure.

I have observed that it takes much more time for cuttings with no leaves to produce new offshoots than when I leave a few leaves on the stem. If the cutting is too tall for your preference, you can trim some of the stem length to make it shorter.

Make sure to leave enough of the stem on the cuttings so that you can plant them in the ground later.

Wait for a few days until the cutting and its base have had time to dry out. Once the end of the cutting has dried up and looks scabbed, you can go ahead and place it in the soil and start watering it.

It’s important to pay close attention when caring for succulent cuttings and water them slightly more often than fully rooted plants. Make sure the soil you’re using is very well draining to avoid the stems becoming too soft and rotting. For more information about propagating succulents from cuttings, check out this resource.

The cutting should begin to develop roots within a few days to two or three weeks. Once the roots have become more established, reduce your watering frequency to match the schedule of already established plants.

In a few weeks, the original plant will produce new shoots. You should keep up with the same care regimen that you had before you made the cut.

It is possible that the leaves on the base plant that you left will drop off or die over time, though this is not a guaranteed outcome.

Don’t worry if the rosettes detach from the main leaves; they will still be able to grow on their own.

Give them more light

If you have stretched plants, you can follow the given steps to encourage new growth. However, if you don’t give them more light, the cuttings and any new sprouts will also become stretched out over time.

Before you decide to prune your succulents, you should attempt to relocate them somewhere that provides more indirect light than before. If that isn’t viable, you may want to consider investing in a grow light in order to supplement the existing light they are receiving.

Generally, it can be challenging to provide succulents with enough indirect sunlight indoors, especially in winter. To ensure optimal growth, some adjustments may be necessary.

Replacing the grow light with another source of light, placing it near the window that receives the most sunlight during the day can be a great option for providing the necessary illumination for plants.

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The next time you observe your succulents growing towards the light or becoming too tall, you will know what steps to take.


Where do you cut stretched succulents?

To prune a succulent, start by using pruners or snapping off roots and healthy leaves from the bottom half of the plant. Aim to get a clean break to promote new growth. Discard any leaves that tear instead of breaking off cleanly. Continue to remove leaves until you have reached approximately halfway up the plant.

Can succulents stretch with too much light?

Succulents subjected to inadequate light will become dull, losing the vibrancy of their red, yellow, or orange leaves and instead taking on pale blue or green tones. The plants may also become spindly or stretched out. On the other side of the spectrum, too much sun exposure can cause succulents to develop beige patches on their leaves or close up their rosettes.

How do you fix elongated succulents?

Reworded: – Take away the leaves. …
– Allow the leaves to dry out. …
– Move the stem to a new pot. …
– Get prepared to cultivate. …
– Mist the soil until it is damp, yet not soaked. …
– Be patient. …
– Place the plant in its new home. …
– Lastly, make sure to check the roots every six months to determine if you have to move your plants to a larger container.

How do you fix stretching succulents?

If you spot the initial indications of your succulent beginning to stretch, get it more light immediately. Move it near a window that is well-lit with plenty of sunshine. The stretching won’t be reversed, but new growth should come back together. You may also consider a grow light to assist your plant.

What causes succulents to elongate?

Etiolation is a process that affects a succulent when it is not receiving enough sunlight, resulting in the stem elongating and the leaves becoming paler and less dense. This is due to the plant’s response to a lack of light, resulting in changes to its shape, color, and growth.