Why Is My Succulent Growing Tall?

Succulents growing tall and leggy is a common issue for many gardeners. There are several potential causes for this unwanted stretch, but the good news is there are also ways to fix it! Here is an in-depth look at why succulents grow tall and what you can do about it.

What Causes Succulents to Grow Tall?

There are a few key reasons why succulents start to stretch out and lose their compact rosette shape:

Insufficient Sunlight

Succulents need a lot of direct sunlight to stay compact – generally 4-6 hours per day. If they don’t get enough light, the stems elongate as the plant reaches for the sun. This is the most common reason for succulent stretching.

Infrequent Watering

Believe it or not, under-watering can also cause succulent growth to become elongated and sparse. The plant is searching for moisture and spreads out its roots and stems trying to find it.

Excess Fertilizer

Too much fertilizer can encourage weak, floppy growth in succulents. Use a balanced slow-release fertilizer at 1/4 to 1/2 strength to avoid overfeeding.

High Humidity

Succulents prefer dry air. When grown in humid conditions, the increased moisture can lead to lanky growth. Improve airflow to help reduce humidity.

Low Nighttime Temperatures

Chilly nights signal to the succulent to elongate to protect the center. Try to keep the temperature above 50°F (10°C) at night.

Natural Growth Habit

Some succulents, like senecio, naturally have a trailing or tall upright growth habit. However, most rosette-forming succulents should stay short and compact.

How to Fix a Leggy Succulent

If your succulents are already stretching out, there are a few techniques to get them back into compact growth:

Increase Light Exposure

Move the plant to a brighter location. South-facing windowsills are great. Slowly acclimate to avoid sunburn.

Hold Off on Watering

Let the soil dry out completely between waterings to discourage new growth. This forces the plant to focus energy on the roots and existing leaves.

Remove Stretched Sections

Prune and propagate the rosettes at the top of the long stems. Root the cuttings to start new compact plants.

Behead the Plant

Cut off the top rosette and re-root it. This gives you a fresh start with a shortened plant. Let the stem callous, then replant.

Use a Growth Retardant

Applying a dilution of chemical growth retardants can slow down elongation. This is effective but use caution and follow instructions.

Provide Strong Light from Above

Place a grow light directly over your succulents to encourage tight growth. LED full spectrum grow lights work great.

With persistence and the right adjustments, you can get those succulents back into tip-top shape. The key is addressing the underlying environmental factors causing the stretch.

Frequently Asked Questions About Tall Succulents

Why is my succulent growing tall?

The most common reasons succulents stretch out are insufficient sunlight, inconsistent watering, excessive fertilizer, high humidity, cool temperatures, or natural growth habits. Identifying the factor causing elongation is key to fixing the problem.

How can I stop my succulent from growing tall?

To stop succulent stretching, increase sunlight exposure, hold off watering to dry out the soil, remove elongated sections and propagate the rosettes, behead the plant and re-root the top, use a growth retardant, or provide strong overhead lighting.

Should I cut off a tall succulent?

It is recommended to remove stretched out top growth on a succulent and propagate it as a new plant. This forces the original plant to resprout compact growth while giving you a new start with the cutting.

Can a leggy succulent recover?

Yes, with proper care a leggy succulent can recover and regrow into a compact shape. Make sure to identify and address the underlying issue, such as lack of sunlight or overwatering. Don’t give up!

How do I fix a stretched succulent?

To fix a stretched succulent, increase sunlight exposure, cut off elongated growth and propagate the top rosettes, behead the plant and reroot the top, let the soil dry out between waterings, and remove any excessive fertilizer. Providing optimal growing conditions will encourage new compact growth.


Succulents that stretch out and grow tall lose their unique, compact shape. However, with a little detective work to identify the causes and some adjustments to care, you can get them reshaped into tight rosettes again. The keys are providing ample sunlight, proper watering, not overfertilizing, keeping temperatures warm, and using propagation methods to restart growth. With the right troubleshooting and care, your succulents will be back to their gorgeous selves in no time!