Succulents Growing Tall And How To Cope With It

If succulents don’t get enough sunlight they begin to grow tall and stretch out.

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What Causes Succulents to Stretch?

Succulents stretch for one main reason. Lack of light. It seems simple. The first thing that happens is your plants will gradually bend toward the sun. This is the first sign that stretching is inevitable. Then as it grows, it will get taller with more space between the leaves.

The lack of light can cause other problems too. If your succulent is lighter in color or less vibrant than usual or your leaves are smaller, these can all be caused by just needing a little more sunlight.

Succulents Stretching Solution

The obvious succulents stretching solution is to move your plants closer to the window or even place it outdoors for a couple of hours a day, so it gets plenty of sunshine. You can also purchase different lights for your indoor plants to help them grow properly. While you may not be able to reshape your succulents, you don’t have to start from scratch. You can begin to new plants from cuttings and even doctor your old succulents too.

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.

How to Control Your Succulents from Growing Tall

  1. Propagating your succulent.
  2. Trimming.
  3. Plant the Cuttings.

How to Prune a Leggy Succulent

Succulent pruning is not rocket science. You need sharp, clean scissors and the conviction that you will not harm the plant. The amount you remove depends upon how tall it has gotten, but you must leave several healthy leaves so the plant can photosynthesize and gather energy to form new shoots and feed itself.

The following are the causes of succulent growing tall instead of wide:

  1. Lack of Sunlight.
  2. Unhealthy.

Did you know each species of succulent has slightly different care needs? Some of them are much more likely to grow well for you than others.

6 Varieties of Succulents You Should Grow Right Now

1. Aloe

This prickly plant has been used for medicinal purposes for centuries. The sap found on the inner leaves is used to heal wounds and soothe burns.

2. Jade Plant

Native to South Africa, the jade plant has thick stems and glossy green leaves. Keep jade in bright light and water when the soil feels dry. Be cautious, as jade is commonly killed by overwatering.

3. Zebra Plant

This striking succulent gets its name from the horizontal stripes covering its leaves. Growing about 5” tall and 6” wide, the zebra plant is tidy, contained, and a perfect addition to any small space. Zebra plant requires a moderate amount of sunlight and water.

4. Panda Plant

This plant is characterized by little white hairs, giving it a fuzzy texture. A Madagascar native, panda plant loves the dry, winter air in heated homes. Water as necessary, but just enough to keep the leaves.

5. Haworthia

Haworthia is a small and deservedly popular succulent from southern Africa. They are generally of natural culture, of small and convenient size, more tolerant of modest lighting than many succulent plants, and come in many beautiful variations on a common theme. Though the small whitish flowers are less than spectacular, they are rewarding and very willing to come forth under diverse conditions. The real glory is in the succulent leaves, which, depending on species, can be variously colored in greens, reds, or browns (to near-black).

6. Sedum

Sedum is a genus of flowering plants, and part of the family that is commonly known as stonecrops. They form straight, tender stems with significant clusters of starry flowers.

Succulents as a whole symbolize a timeless, enduring love because they tended to store water in leaves and stems for hard times ahead. Combined, this offers a beautiful message of the Sedum flower as an offering of everlasting calm, peace, and perseverance.

6. Echeveria Growing Tall

Echeverias are succulent, rosette-forming evergreen plants. They’re native to Mexico and central and southern America, making them ideal for a hot, sunny spot. These plants thrive on neglect and cope well in drought. They’re ideal for containers both inside and out and the smaller varieties are often used as part of carpet bedding schemes.

HOW TO PLANT YOUR SUCCULENT CUTTINGS

1.) REMOVE THE TOP LAYER OF SOIL (IF PLANTING THEM BACK IN THE SAME POT).

This planting was done two years ago, so the soil mix hadn’t gone too old, nor was it compacted. I removed the top 10″ to make room for a fresh mix. Succulents don’t root too deep, so there wasn’t a need to remove it all.

2.) USE A MIX FORMULATED FOR SUCCULENTS & CACTI.

Fill the pot with succulent & cactus mix. I use one which is produced locally, which I love, but this one is an option. Succulents need a loose blend so the water can thoroughly drain out & they don’t rot.

3.) MIX IN COIR.

A few handfuls of coco coir. I always have this on hand, but it’s not necessary. This environmentally friendly alternative to peat moss is pH neutral, increases nutrient holding capacity & improves aeration. If you feel your mix isn’t light enough, you can up the ante on the drainage factor, which lessens the chance of rot by adding some pumice or perlite.

4.) USE COMPOST.

A few handfuls of compost – I use Tank’s local compost. Give Dr. Earth’s a try if you can’t find anywhere you live. Compost enriches the soil naturally so the roots are healthy & the plants grow more robust. I mixed a bit of the right, fresh blend in with the old.

5.) GET READY TO PLANT.

With the mix, all prepped it was time to plant. I had a couple of small plants from another pot & started with 1 of those. I then placed the cuttings in groupings on how I found pleasing to my eye. You may have to play around with them to get them to go the way you want.

WHAT SHOULD YOU DO WITH THE CUTTINGS?

There were quite a few cuttings, as you can see! I put them in a long, low box, which I then moved to my very bright (but with no direct sun) utility room. The cuttings were prepped a few days later – I stripped off some of the lower leaves & cut off any curved stems. You want the stems to be as straight as possible because they’re easier to plant that way.

The cuttings healed over for about six days. Think of this as a wound healing over; otherwise, the cuttings could rot. I’ve let some succulents heal over for nine months just fine, whereas something with beautiful stems like  String Of Pearls only needs a couple of days. It’s hot here in Tucson, so I don’t heal any succulents over for too long.

After planting, they’ll be rooted in 1-2 months time.

The cuttings after sorting through & prepping them.

Is Sunlight Mandatory for Succulents?

Any plant can use any light (in the visible spectrum) for photosynthesis. Sure, the amount of “power” they get can vary hugely depending on the qualities of the light, but they’re always getting something from the light.

Even succulents and cacti, as special as they are, don’t absolutely require fancy-schmancy sunlight. They will continue to grow under your office fluorescents, the LED desk clip light, or even a regular old lamp. Or even a grow light like this.

That being said… succulents would definitely prefer sunlight.

That’s largely true for all plants – after all, they evolved for millions of years with just the light of the sun. They’re pretty well-adapted at this point.

Why is Sunlight Beneficial?

The vast majority of succulents prefer to be in full, direct sun. There are two big reasons that sunlight is better for succulents.

The first is that it’s the easiest way to reveal their “true colors”, also known as “sun blush”. Those are terms that describe the gorgeous colors that succulents are known for; the luscious tones of lavender, turquoise, tangerine, and opalescent rainbow are the result of the plant being “sun stressed”.

“Sun stress” is a response to lots of intense, direct light. Plants have different responses to intense light. Some, like grasses, curl up to minimize the amount of surface area exposed. Succulents, on the other hand, change colors. Color changing in this case helps to reflect some of the light, preventing heat damage and reducing the amount of energy they uptake.

Those Pinterest-worthy color schemes are just a happy side-effect.

Succulents can and do survive just fine even without that amount of light. 

The catch is that they tend to just stay a (somewhat boring) shade of green.

The second reason that sunlight is helpful might be a little unexpected since it has nothing to do with the actual light. Sunlight is useful because it brings with it heat… and that heat will help dry out your soil.

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