If succulents don’t receive enough light, they will become leggy and elongated.
In this article, I will demonstrate how to reduce stretching in succulents and how to restore succulents that have become stretched and leggy.
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I receive occasional messages from distressed readers whose succulents appear to have changed from when they initially bought them.
Most succulents, particularly when grown indoors, tend to become leggy over time, becoming much taller and spread out. This is a very common occurrence.
Succulents may not thrive quickly, but their ability to rapidly elongate or “stretch” when deprived of light is an incredible process. This phenomenon is known as etiolation.
A grow light is an easy and effective way to keep your succulents from stretching. It doesn’t have to be a difficult process to get one.
If you want to get the most out of your succulent growing, sign up for our free grow light cheat sheet. It will give you all the information you need to know to select the right light and use it correctly. Click the link to get your copy and get started on the right track.
Table of Contents
Lack of Sunlight
Succulents display a natural response to inadequate sunlight by stretching out and leaning towards the nearest source of light.
Reformulated: As it grows, it will become taller and the leaves will be spaced further apart.
Most of the time, the leaves of a succulent will be smaller and paler than usual when it does not get enough sunlight. In addition, the plant may also take on a more green hue or lose some of its original color.
Observe how the Echeveria ‘Lola’ is gradually turning towards the light source and its color is not as vibrant as when it was pictured for the post about top dressings.
The occurrence of stretching in succulents is not limited to those grown indoors; it can also occur outdoors when they are exposed to too much shade.
Drooping or flattened out leaves
If your succulent is curling up tightly and its leaves are spreading out, it is likely not receiving enough sunlight. This is an early warning sign that your succulent needs more light.
Is it unhealthy?
Leggy succulents may not thrive in low light, but they can still survive for quite some time. They may not look as healthy or attractive, but it can take up to two years of inadequate lighting before they die.
If they don’t receive adequate light, they will perish faster.
Check out the video below (and don’t forget to subscribe to our YouTube channel for more helpful content) to learn how to keep your succulents from getting too tall!
How to save stretched out succulents
You can easily take a cutting and propagate it to create a new succulent.
Once a succulent has been stretched out and won’t return to its original size and shape, don’t despair! You can take a cutting and propagate it to create a new plant.
One way to return your garden to its former, well-kept state is to prune and trim any overgrown plants or shrubs.
Begin the process by snipping the top of the tall succulent with a sharp pair of scissors. Make sure to leave a minimum of two inches on the base with two or three leaves still attached. It is beneficial for the base to have a few leaves in order to capture the light of the sun.
I have found that when I have left a few leaves on the stem when I make a cutting, it will produce new offshoots more quickly than if I have made the cut with no leaves remaining. If the cutting is too long for my needs, I can easily trim away some of the stem length to make it shorter.
Make sure to leave a substantial amount of stem on the cutting so that it can be planted in the ground later.
Allow the cutting and the base to air dry for a few days. Afterwards, when the end of the cutting appears hardened and scab-like, it is ready to be planted in soil and watered.
I have discovered that newly cuttings require a bit more water than a fully rooted succulent, but not a whole lot more. Make sure you are utilizing a soil with excellent drainage properties to stop the stem from becoming too soft and decaying. For more information on propagating succulents from cuttings, take a look at this resource.
The cutting should begin to form roots soon, likely within a few days, but certainly within 2-3 weeks. Once the roots are well-developed, reduce the amount of water you give it so that it is in sync with other plants with fully-formed roots.
The original plant will begin to generate new sprouts within a few weeks. You can go on tending to the plant as normal after the cutting.
It is possible for the leaves you initially left on the base plant to die or fall off eventually, however this is not a guaranteed outcome.
Don’t worry if the leaves drop off, the new rosettes will still be able to thrive without them.
Give them more light
If you have plants that have become leggy, you can use the steps above to encourage regrowth, but unless you give the plants additional light, the cuttings and new sprouts will end up becoming long and lanky as well.
Before you prune your succulents, try to move them to an area with more indirect sunlight. If that isn’t an option, you can add a grow light to give them the additional light they need.
Don’t forget to get the complimentary guide to grow lights, which will make it simpler and more affordable to select and use one.
In general, succulents should receive indirect sunlight as much as possible, though this can be a challenge indoors, particularly during the wintertime when it is almost impossible to cultivate them without making an effort.
Using a grow light can be beneficial, and it is recommended to place it near a window that gets the most daylight during the day.
Therefore, when you observe your succulents leaning towards the light or growing too tall, you are aware of what steps to take.
Where do you cut stretched succulents?
To prune a succulent, use pruners or snap off healthy roots and leaves from the bottom half. Aim to make a clean break to encourage new growth. Discard any leaves that tear. Cut back the leaves until you have removed more than half of the succulent’s total length.
What does a stretched succulent look like?
If a succulent isn’t receiving enough sunlight, its leaves will begin to orient towards the source of light. Over time, the stem will stretch out and become taller, with the leaves spaced further apart. The leaves may also be smaller and lighter in color than when the plant is adequately exposed to sunlight.
Is a leggy succulent bad?
A video on YouTube entitled “OAw31LqCaN8” shows a person performing a series of dance moves.
How do you fix stretched succulents?
Making a change in one’s habits is difficult but can be beneficial.
It is challenging to alter behavior, however, the payoff can be worth it.