How To Fix Succulent Etiolation | Everything About Stretching Tall Stem

The common issue that you face when growing succulents indoors is growing taller and stretching. That appearance change makes succulent ugly. Most of the gardeners like to see a compact rosette. However, this change can easily corrected, and you can prevent your succulent etiolation in the future.

We can expect this situation significantly when growing succulent indoors or in the winter season, which doesn’t have enough bright light. These are slow-growing plant which doesn’t require regular maintenance. Once the succulent leggy, it can continue to grow in low light, but it doesn’t produce a compact rosette.

Succulent Etiolated


Why is Succulents Elongated?

Succulents require bright light to thrive. When it receives low light or growing indoors or in shade areas, its stem stretches out and makes the plant leggy. It is called etiolation. Succulent can be elongated within two or three weeks when the plant does not receive adequate sunlight. In the above image, you can see a succulent growing tall instead of wide.

If you are searching for how do I fix too tall succulents, this is the guide for fix leggy succulents. When the plant is getting older, it usually elongates; that is a normal situation. You can read more about how to care for succulents in low light.


How Do You Stop Succulents Stretching?

We can quickly stop succulents from getting leggy. There are several simple steps.

  • Move the plant to a brighter, full sunlight area. When the plant receives more bright light throughout the day, it stops etiolation.
  • Provide a minimum of 2 hours of direct sunlight. When it receives more bright sunlight, its is color more vibrant.
  • Rotate the plant every 2 to 3 days around 180° degrees. This is essential when the plant receives sunlight from a single direction. Especially rotation is required when it places near windows.
  • Use artificial grow lights. When growing under artificial grow lights, use full-spectrum lights. Provide around 6-8 hours light.
  • Use less fertilizer and nutrients. Stop providing nutrient-rich potting mix and fertilizers. These arid plants require low nutrients. When it is getting more and more nutrients, it starts rapid growth. You can use homemade succulent potting mix for your plants.
  • Use stem cuttings. Stem cutting is the best method to correct leggy succulents.
See also  How to Water Succulents and cactus | 10 Tips You Should Know


How do you fix succulent Etiolation?

When succulents growing long stems, we can quickly correct them. When it is growing taller, its stem is getting weaker, and the top of the plant can bend down. Naturally, these bent parts generate new succulents. Initially, if you are lucky enough to identify the stretched-out succulents, you can move them to more brightest and sunniest location.

There is only one option to get back the tight, compact succulent rosette.

  • Use stem cuttings.
    • Cut two or three inches from the top of the rosette using a sharp knife or scissors.
    • Remove bottom leaves, but not all of them.
    • Let the cutting and base dry in the air for 5 to 7 days (the air-dry method is best). Keep the plant in a shade indoor place without exposure to sunlight. This will heal the cut area. It is essential to air dry the damaged stem area to prevent rotting.
    • After two days left, directly plant it in a succulent soil mix and water well. Until its root system grows, the plant should be watered slightly more than the regular plant but not regularly.
    • The new root starts to grow in 2 – 3 weeks. Once the root is well established (about four weeks), water it as a fully rooted plant.
    • Original succulent (base) remaining leaves will falls off after several days.
    • The succulent base will offshoot within a few weeks. We can expect several succulent rosettes from the base plant.

You can read more about my succulent stem cutting propagation method to correct leggy succulents plants.

See also  How To Repot Succulents, Cactus | Everything You Should Know


Do Succulents Need Sun All Day Long?

Generally, all the succulents no need direct sunlight throughout the day. Around 2 to 3 hours of direct sunlight is enough for most plants, and reset of the time needs brighter lights to thrive. When the plant’s direct sunlight exposure time reduces its color change and stems getting weaker, the leaf can bend down and stretch towards the bright light area. Some vibrant color-producing plants like Echeveria Black Prince succulents require over 3 hours of direct sunlight to produce true dark colors.

In the winter season, it is necessary to provide artificial grow lights for a minimum of 6 hours. Always use full-spectrum lights. these full-spectrum artificial grow lights produce the same proportion as natural sunshine.


What are the symptoms of Etiolation?

The main symptom of succulents etiolation are the space between two leaf getting increases. Moreover, you can notice that succulent bend towards to bright light source. Another significant change is leaves will be smaller, and their colors turn lighter than usual (more greenish). Furthermore, leaves start to point downward. Ultimately you can see a loose rosette.

Once you notice any signs of succulent stretching immediately provide more bright light. As you can see in the below succulent image, there is an unusual space between the leaves. Once you notice such a behavior provide artificial grow light or brighter sunlight.

Succulent stretching
Succulent stem stretching (You can see there is significant space between leaves)


In the below image you can see that the plant bends to the right side. Because this plant place near a windowsill.  It naturally bends to the bright light source. When the succulent grows for a long time in low light, the plant naturally bends toward more light sources. Therefore I rotate 180° degrees this plant every 2 days.

See also  Select Best Succulent Pots? | Choose Right Size, Material
Succulent bend to light direction
Succulent bend towards to bright light source.


Only Indoor Succulent leggy?

Indoor succulents are more likely to get leggy. Though we cannot directly say that only the indoor succulents are etiolation. Outdoor succulents can be leggy when it is not receive adequate direct sunlight for several hours. For instance, when the plant does not receives direct sunlight over time (due to the taller plant’s shade). Few succulents can grow under low light. But the majority of them require around 4 – 6 sunlight (full and partial).


How Do You Reverse Etiolated Succulents?

Once the succulent etiolated, it cannot reverse. If the plant is matured enough, you can use the elongated part for propagation. Then its bottom part produces new baby plants and the trim part can also be planted on a regular succulent potting mix.

Get more stuff like this
in your inbox

Subscribe to our mailing list and get interesting stuff and updates to your email inbox.

Thank you for subscribing.

Something went wrong.

Leave a Comment!

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

error: Content is protected !!