What To Do When Succulents Get Leggy

by Succulent MarketOct 19, 2020

leggy succulents


Succulents that don’t get enough sunlight will get leggy and grow taller than you’d want. 

This guide will show you how to “fix” your leggy succulents and get them back to their natural (and best) state.

Lack Of Sunlight

The main reason why succulents start to stretch out is that they don’t get enough sunlight. It won’t even take long for a succulent to get leggy either. In fact, it can happen within a couple of weeks.

The first sign that they’ll get leggy is that they’ll start to bend towards the sun. As it grows, the leggy succulent will get taller and increase the space between its leaves. The leaves of the leggy succulent will then grow smaller and have a lighter color than usual.

Generally speaking, a lack of sunlight will change the entire look of the succulent. It will either turn green or its original color will fade.

Of course, a lack of sunlight mostly affects indoor succulents, but it can also happen to outdoor plants too if they have too much shade.

Succulents grow best in adequate sunlight, but they can still grow in low-light conditions. They won’t be as healthy as succulents with good access to sunlight, but they will still have a decent lifespan. Just note that it’ll die quicker in reduced sun.

How To Save Leggy Succulents

Stretched leggy succulents cannot go back to their original shape. However, you can still get leggy succulents garden tight and compact again.

First, cut the top of the succulent with some shears or a sharp pair of scissors. Make sure to leave a couple of inches on the base with either two or three leaves to absorb the sunlight.

Some bare stems may result in a few new offshoots, it takes a lot longer compared to keeping some leaves on the stem. If the cutting is still too tall, then feel free to cut the steam down a little bit to make the cutting shorter.

No matter what you do though, always leave enough stem for planting.

From here, give the cutting and succulent base time to dry out. This can take a few days. When it’s completely dried out, it’s time to plant it into the soil and water.

Note that cutting needs a little bit more water compared to a fully-grown succulent, but it’s not a great difference. Ensure you’re planting the cutting into soil that drains well so the stem doesn’t get overwatered and rots. 

You should notice the cutting offshooting roots within a few days (within two to three weeks at most). Reduce watering as the roots establish in the soil to the point that it’s on the same schedule as your other fully-rooted plants.

In terms of the base, this should offshoot roots within a few weeks. Continue giving the base the same treatment as you were before it was cut.

Note that the leaves that remained on the base may fall off. It may not happen at all, but if it does, do not be alarmed as it’s perfectly normal.

The base will eventually put off new offshoots after being beheaded.

Provide More Light

If your succulents have become leggy and stretched, the above procedure will help to establish new growth. But even so, unless they have good access to sunlight, even the new cutting and offshoots can stretch out, so you’re back to square one.

Before cutting anything, find an area in your home or in the garden where the leggy succulent will get more sunlight than they were previously exposed to. If you can’t move them, then think about getting a hold of a grow light.

Ideally, your leggy succulents should be getting as much access to indirect sunlight as it can. This can be quite tough for indoor plants, especially during the winter as the sun isn’t in the sky as much compared to the summer months.

Put the plant near a window so it can get the most sunlight possible. You can also supplement this with a grow light.

Do You Have To Cut Leggy Succulents?

Cutting is not always necessary, but it’s the quickest and easiest way to improve the look of your leggy succulent. It’s also an effective method to multiply your plants.

If you decide to leave the leggy succulent alone, it may adapt to its environment and show you some interesting things that you probably didn't know it could do.