How To Repair Leggy Stems

Succulent crops get leggy sometimes. Maintain studying to be taught why it occurs and what you are able to do about succulents with lengthy stems.

Oh, attractive succulents, we do love you, however why do your stems develop lengthy? My backyard in Santa Barbara was chock-full of them, nevertheless it didn’t hassle me when this occurred as a result of I had so many. They intertwined, co-mingled, and propped one another up. Each infrequently, I’d reduce some again to propagate and/or give away. 

I now stay in Tucson, which isn’t the optimum local weather for rising fleshy succulents. Mine develop in pots; some can look unhappy when that intense summer season warmth rolls in. All of them develop within the shade as a result of they will’t deal with the recent solar right here. One in every of my succulent plantings (seen beneath) was due for a complete cutback as a result of the stems had gotten lengthy, leggy, and stretched out.

Word: This was revealed on 10/2/2018. It was up to date on 2/12/2024.

A mature mixed succulent planting in a blue pot growing outdoors.
The planting earlier than pruning.

3 Causes Why Succulents Develop Lengthy Stems

In my expertise, there are three explanation why succulent crops develop lengthy, stretched-out, or leggy stems.

1) It’s their nature.

Some succulents naturally develop leggy over time, and their stretched stems have to be in the reduction of to maintain them wanting good. Others keep in a extra compact rosette type and barely want reducing again. 

Succulent varieties like Kalanchoes, Aeoniums, and Echeverias are likely to develop lengthy stems as they grow to be mature crops. On this (very) previous put up, you’ll be able to see how I needed to reduce my Paddle Plant patch again as a result of the stems had been elongating. 

2) They’re reaching for the sunshine supply.

If you happen to’ve positioned them towards a wall or in a nook, they’ll begin reaching towards the sunshine. This produces longer stems and fewer new development. 

This will additionally occur within the winter months when the daylight is much less plentiful.

3) The sunshine they’re rising in is simply too low.

This can be true on your leggy succulents, particularly if rising indoors. Your succulents might not get sufficient mild, and you could discover leggy stems, paler foliage, and smaller leaves.

This may very well be as a result of lack of daylight or synthetic mild. You’ll have to maneuver your succulents to a spot with extra solar publicity, get a develop mild or two, or, if doable, transfer indoor succulents outdoor.  

Nevertheless, you’ll need to discover a pleased medium as a result of an excessive amount of daylight, reminiscent of in a south or west-facing window, could cause their fleshy leaves to burn. 

Paddle Plant growing outdoors in a parking lot in a decorative planter, it's in bloom, and it has long stretched stems.
This occurs while you don’t prune a Paddle Plant (genus Kalanchoe) – they get tall!

When To Prune Succulents With Lengthy Stems?

Spring and summer season are the most effective occasions. If you happen to stay in a temperate local weather like me, early fall is okay too. You wish to give your succulents a few months to settle in and root earlier than the cooler climate units in.

Right here’s a basic information to pruning succulents.

A succulent planter in the corner with knee pads & a box with pruners & succulent cuttings in the foreground.
Preparing for the massive cutback!

Why Ought to You Reduce Again Stretched Out Succulents

As soon as a succulent stem will get naked, the leaves gained’t develop again on it. You have to reduce it again and propagate by stem cuttings or have it rejuvenate from the bottom (the piece of stem and roots nonetheless within the soil).

How far you in the reduction of is dependent upon how leggy it has gotten and the place foliage development has stopped. 

It’s possible you’ll must go right down to the base of the plant to chop. That was the case with my Paddle Plant patch; I took the stems right down to the place new offsets had shaped on the base.

Learn how to Reduce Again Succulents With Lengthy Stems

I exploit my trusty Felco hand pruners, which I’ve had for ages. If the stems are skinny and gentle, I want my micro pruning snips

No matter you employ to make the cuts, be certain your pruning device is clear and sharp. You need clear cuts, not jagged cuts, and also you don’t need an infection to set in.

When reducing, I prune straight throughout the stem above a leaf node. I used to take them at an angle however switched to straight throughout six or seven years in the past. It doesn’t appear to make a lot of a distinction.

The primary 2 on this put up are the favourite pruners I exploit recurrently.

Looking down on a box full of assorted succulent cuttings.
The cuttings I obtained from pruning that succulent pot. I gave quite a bit away!

What Ought to You Do with the Cuttings?

Right here’s what you do, whether or not your succulents develop within the floor or a pot, with these tall, stretched-out succulent stems.

You may propagate by stem cuttings or by leaf cuttings. Stem cuttings are a a lot sooner technique, however when you’ve got the persistence, strive leaf propagation. 

I obtained fairly just a few cuttings, as you’ll be able to see. I put them in a protracted, low field, then moved them to my utility room with shiny mild however no direct solar. They have to be in a well-lit space, however they’ll burn in the event that they get an excessive amount of daylight. The quantity of sunshine they want whereas therapeutic over isn’t as nice as they would want when rising as crops.

You’ll wish to prep the cuttings.  Reduce off any curved stems and strip off leaves if wanted. You need the stems to be as straight as doable as a result of they’re simpler to plant.

The reduce finish of long-stemmed succulents should heal for not less than three to 6 days. Consider this such as you would a wound therapeutic over. Cuttings planted again within the soil too rapidly earlier than they’ve an opportunity to heal are extra topic to root rot

I’ve let some succulents heal over for 9 months, and so they grew simply advantageous. Succulents with advantageous stems, like  String Of Pearls, solely want a few days. It’s scorching right here in Tucson, so I don’t heal succulents over for too lengthy.

After planting, they’ll have new roots in 1-2 months.

We’ve accomplished many posts and movies on indoor and out of doors succulent care, together with propagation. You’ll discover them in our Succulents Class.

3 different types of succulent cuttings lined up in a box.
The cuttings after sorting by means of, giving some away, & prepping them.

Learn how to Plant Your Succulent Cuttings

1) Take away the highest layer of soil (if planting them again in the identical pot).

This planting was accomplished two years in the past, so the soil combine wasn’t too previous or compacted. I eliminated the highest 10″ to make room for a recent combine. Succulents don’t root too deep, so eradicating all of it wasn’t pointless.

2) Use a mixture formulated for succulents & cacti.

Fill or high off the pot with succulent and cactus combine. Succulents want a unfastened combine that’s properly aerated so the water can totally drain out and so they don’t rot. I exploit this DIY succulent and cactus combine for all my succulent planting, indoors and outdoor.

3) Combine in compost.

(That is elective, nevertheless it’s one thing I all the time do). A couple of handfuls of compost enriches the soil naturally, so the roots are wholesome and the crops develop stronger. I blended a few of the recent mix in with the older soil combine. After the cuttings have rooted in, I’ll apply a 1/2″ to 1″ topping of worm compost. That is my favourite modification, which I exploit sparingly as a result of it’s wealthy.

4) Get able to plant.

With the combo all prepped, it was time to plant. I had a few small crops from one other pot and began with a kind of. I then positioned the cuttings in groupings that had been pleasing to my eye. You could have to mess around with them to get them to go the way you need.

Looking down on newly planted succulent cuttings in a blue pot growing outdoors.
My new planting. As you’ll be able to see, I left some area for the cuttings to all develop in. You may pack them in tighter for those who’d like. Simply know they do develop, particularly when the climate’s heat.

Word: The way you organize your cuttings is as much as you. Simply do not forget that some develop greater and taller and can take up extra actual property than others. I planted the Paddle Crops cuttings on the sting as a result of the leaves are so large, and so they produce infants like loopy, taking on more room.

Succulents With Lengthy Stems Video Information

Learn how to Keep the New Succulent Planting

Succulents are a few of the best crops.

I let the brand new planting settle in for about 5 to seven days earlier than watering the combo. I realized this early on, and it’s all the time labored properly for me.

I’ll water this planting as soon as every week till the climate cools. You don’t wish to hold your cuttings as dry as you’ll a longtime plant. Keep in mind, the roots are nonetheless forming.

Conversely, don’t give an excessive amount of water, or the cuttings will rot out. Modify in response to your circumstances.

Maintain your cuttings out of any direct scorching solar to keep away from burn. Shiny pure oblique daylight (average to excessive mild publicity) is the candy spot.

Now that you know the way to get new crops from cuttings, you’ll have a brand new succulent assortment very quickly!


I don’t fertilize cuttings after they’re rooting in as a result of I really feel they don’t want it. I do combine in somewhat compost and worm compost when making ready the potting combine.

When the cuttings have rooted in and began rising, I begin a fertilizing routine.

Close up of a beautiful mixed succulent planting with different colors & foliage types.
Right here’s a newly planted succulent container that’s tight & compact. Not for too lengthy!

These steps additionally work with succulents which have lengthy stalks and are getting too tall. In case you have succulent crops rising lengthy stems, merely give them a superb haircut. They will take it and can come again stronger than ever. Gotta love these nice crops!  

Joyful gardening,

Signed by Nell Foster

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