How To Repair Leggy Stems

Succulent crops get leggy sometimes. Hold 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, however 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 every so often, 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 new solar right here. One among my succulent plantings (seen beneath) was due for a complete cutback as a result of the stems had gotten lengthy, leggy, and stretched out.

Be aware: This was printed 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 should be reduce to maintain them trying good. Others keep in a extra compact rosette type and infrequently want reducing again. 

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 On this (very) outdated submit, you’ll be able to see how I needed to reduce my Paddle Plant patch again as a result of the stems have been elongating. 

2) They’re reaching for the sunshine supply.

For those who’ve positioned them in opposition to a wall or in a nook, they’ll begin reaching towards the sunshine. This produces longer stems and fewer new progress. 

This may 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 to your leggy succulents, particularly if rising indoors. Your succulents could not get sufficient gentle, and chances are you’ll discover leggy stems, paler foliage, and smaller leaves.

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

Nevertheless, you’ll need to discover a completely satisfied medium as a result of an excessive amount of daylight, resembling in a south or west-facing window, may 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 once 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 very best instances. For those who stay in a temperate local weather like me, early fall is ok 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 normal 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 Lower Again Stretched Out Succulents

As soon as a succulent stem will get naked, the leaves gained’t develop again on it. You want 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 reduce is determined by how leggy it has gotten and the place foliage progress has stopped. 

You might have to go all the way down to the base of the plant to chop. That was the case with my Paddle Plant patch; I took the stems all the way down to the place new offsets had shaped on the base.

Tips on how to Lower Again Succulents With Lengthy Stems

I take advantage of my trusty Felco hand pruners, which I’ve had for ages. If the stems are skinny and smooth, I desire my micro pruning snips

No matter you employ to make the cuts, ensure that your pruning software 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 submit are the favourite pruners I take advantage of usually.

Looking down on a box full of assorted succulent cuttings.
The cuttings I bought from pruning that succulent pot. I gave so much 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 possibly can propagate by stem cuttings or by leaf cuttings. Stem cuttings are a a lot sooner technique, however you probably have the endurance, strive leaf propagation. 

I bought fairly just a few cuttings, as you’ll be able to see. I put them in an extended, low field, then moved them to my utility room with vivid gentle however no direct solar. They must 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.  Lower off any curved stems and strip off leaves if wanted. You need the stems to be as straight as attainable as a result of they’re simpler to plant.

The reduce finish of long-stemmed succulents should heal for at the least 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, they usually grew simply fantastic. Succulents with fantastic stems, like  String Of Pearls, solely want a few days. It’s sizzling 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 achieved 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, giving some away, & prepping them.

Tips on 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 achieved two years in the past, so the soil combine wasn’t too outdated or compacted. I eliminated the highest 10″ to make room for a contemporary combine. Succulents don’t root too deep, so eradicating all of it wasn’t pointless.

2) Use a combination formulated for succulents & cacti.

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

3) Combine in compost.

(That is optionally available, however it’s one thing I all the time do). A number of handfuls of compost enriches the soil naturally, so the roots are wholesome and the crops develop stronger. I blended a number of the contemporary 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 take advantage of sparingly as a result of it’s wealthy.

4) Get able to plant.

With the combination all prepped, it was time to plant. I had a few small crops from one other pot and began with a type of. I then positioned the cuttings in groupings that have 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 possibly can pack them in tighter should you’d like. Simply know they do develop, particularly when the climate’s heat.

Be aware: The way you prepare your cuttings is as much as you. Simply do not forget that some develop larger 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 massive, they usually produce infants like loopy, taking on more room.

Succulents With Lengthy Stems Video Information

Tips on how to Keep the New Succulent Planting

Succulents are a number of the best crops.

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

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

Conversely, don’t give an excessive amount of water, or the cuttings will rot out. Alter in accordance with your situations.

Hold your cuttings out of any direct sizzling solar to keep away from burn. Brilliant pure oblique daylight (average to excessive gentle publicity) is the candy spot.

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


I don’t fertilize cuttings once they’re rooting in as a result of I really feel they don’t want it. I do combine in a bit compost and worm compost when getting 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. When you have succulent crops rising lengthy stems, merely give them a very good haircut. They’ll take it and can come again stronger than ever. Gotta love these nice crops!  

Comfortable gardening,

Signed by Nell Foster

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