Succulent With Long Stems (Reasons & How To Fix It)

Succulents With Long Stems

Most people think of cacti when they think of succulents, but there are actually many different types of succulents with a wide range of shapes, sizes, and colors. Succulents are popular to grow indoors and this can cause a frustrated experience when the stem starts to grow, forming unintended odd shapes. There are two main reasons that can result in a succulent with long stems:

The first reason is sunlight. Most succulent plants need full sunlight to thrive and if the sunlight is insufficient, the succulent will elongate in an effort to find more sunlight. The second reason is that the succulent is naturally long-stemmed such as Echeveria and String of Tears.

In general, succulents are easy to care for, making them very a very popular plant in many peoples homes. However succulents has needs just like any other plant and it can become a frustrated experience when starts to grow, giving it an unappealing look. In this article we will explain the reason for this behavior deeper and how you can fix your long-stemmed succulent.

Why Is My Succulent Growing A Long Stem?

As mentioned earlier the reason your succulent is growing a long stem is the lack of sunlight the succulent plant is receiving or that the natural anatomy of the succulent plant is in fact to have a long stem. Let’s take a further look.

Succulent Not Getting Enough Sun Light

If you have a succulent with a long stem that should have a short stem, then not getting enough sun light is the problem. This is called etoilation and what it’s means is that the plant is growing in partial or completely without sunlight. This causes the succulent stretch to try and reach more sunlight.

Succulent plants are very different and some types require a lot of sunlight and others like it more shady. So it’s important that you know which type of succulent you have and learn the need of your plant. Try and move your plant to a place where it can get more direct sunlight and if this is not possible then a grow light might be an good option.

Naturally Long-Stemmed Succulents

Naturally Long-Stemmed Succulent

Succulents come is various different sizes, colors and shapes. This makes them so appealing to many people because there are so many different types of succulent plants and some are long-stemmed by nature, while others are not. This can make them for different flower and plant arrangements, either indoors or in the garden outdoors.

If your succulent is getting enough sunlight and still grow a long stem then the chance is that your plant is a long-stemmed succulent variant. I’ve made a table below showing some of the most popular succulents with long stems and maybe your plant in this list.

  • Echeveria
  • Christmas Cactus
  • String of Tears
  • String of Pearls
  • String of Turtles
  • Snake Plant
  • Mother of Millions
  • Jade Plant
  • Saguaro
  • Madagascar Palm
  • Elephant’s Ear Kalanchoe
  • Eve’s Needle
  • Ocotillo

If you forgot the name of your succulent then you might want to give an app a try called PlantSnap. This app can probably help you identify your plant and based on that you will know if your succulent has elongated or is in fact a type of succulent that has a naturally long stem.

You can also try a forum such as Succulent Plants on Reddit. Here you can post a question or find more information about your succulent and maybe you can learn your plants needs to avoid the etiolation from happening in the future.

The third option could be to visit flower stores that sell succulents and ask them for advice. They are usually very knowledgeable and are often very happy to help.

How To Prevent Your Succulent From Growing Long Stems

If you succulent is growing long stems, it’s going to take some work to stop the growth. However once the growth has stopped it can’t be reversed. So I thought I would share some good tips on how to avoid the succulent going through etiolation.

Provide Enough Sunlight

Small Succulent In Hand

One of the most important parts to prevent your succulent to elongate is to give it enough sunlight. There are many different types of succulents and most of these have different needs, making it hard to generalize how much sunlight the plant needs.

Some want a lot of direct sunlight and some wants it more shady. Succulents are sensitive to extreme cold and extreme heat, but the best way is to place your plant at a sunny spot and see how it reacts.

If your succulent starts to get brown spots on the leaves, then that means that the plant is exposed to too much sunlight and needs a spot that don’t have as much direct sunlight during daytime hours.

Turn The Pot

If your succulent starts to stretch in one direction, then it’s good idea to turn the pot into the direction of the incoming sunlight. Maybe you have a situation where the light is coming only from one direction where you placed your plant, so turning your pot every few days should stop the stretching.

Know If Your Succulent Is Dormant Or Growing

A plant going dormant is a natural thing, because it’s a way for the plant to survive harsh conditions and it’s the same for succulents. As soon as they are exposed to too much heat or too much cold, it will start to go dormant.

And the opposite will happen if the climate condition is optimal, it will grown more then given water and exposed to sunlight. Some stretching can still occur even tho you have given the plant direct sunlight and if this happens, then you can place the plant outside for a few hours each day to make it more compact.

How To Fix A Succulent With Long Stems

If your succulent has grown a long stem, fear not because there is a way to fix it. By fixing it, I mean that you can grow new healthy succulents from your current long-stemmed plant. This is called propagation and it’s a great way to gain new healthy succulents.

Propagation of succulents is very easy and it will be worth it I promise.

Let’s go through steps how you can propagate your plant.

Evaluate Your Plant

Before you start to the propagation process, you need to know which kind of succulent plant you have, because different plants can sometimes be propagated differently. There are mainly four ways to propagate your succulent, through roots, the stems, the leaves and cuttings which is mainly the rosette from the top.

Replant Cuttings From The Top Stem

The first type of propagation is to use the top rosette of your succulent. Cut it with some stem still attached to it and plant in a well-drained pot with soil. You can place more cuttings in the same pot and from different types of succulents as well.

It’s very important that you don’t expose the fresh cuttings to direct sunlight because they burn easily since they haven’t created their roots yet. Second to remember is to not water the pot until the dirt is completely dry, this is to avoid the plant from rooting.

Give it some time and all your cuttings will grow new roots and become beautiful new succulent plants.

Use The Leaves To Make New Plants

The second way to propagate a succulent plant is to use the leaves. You can remove the leaves simple my wiggling them back and forth, until the leaf snaps off the steam. Make sure that the end of the stem is not damaged because it is where the new succulent plant will grow.

Air dry the leaves for a few days or until the end has thickened. Then you can place them flat on the soil, preferably on a larger tray and then you can mist them every other day. It’s also important here that the leaves are not exposed to direct sunlight because it can try them up before they get the time to develop new roots.

Cut The Stem At The Soil Level

The last way to propagate is to use the stem. Since you plucked the leaves earlier the stems now needs to be air dried just the leaves and you want the end of them to get more thickened or calloused, which is the proper meaning.

After that you can then plant the stems in succulent friendly soil. You need to be patient and after several weeks, new succulents will grow where the leaves originally were. Same goes here as the other methods, it’s important to not over water the newly planted stems or give them too much sunlight.

New Plants For The Roots

The last way to get more succulent plants from a long-stemmed succulent is to actually just leave that roots on good soil or replant, after some time, that plant will also produce more beautiful rosettes.

What To Do With Succulents With Long Stems?

Succulents In A Bowl

So you got a succulent plant that has developed a long stem and you have no idea what to do with it. Well if you have read other parts of this article then you might already gotten some ideas on what to do with them. But let’s still do a flying overview what you can do with your long-stemmed succulent plant.

  1. You propagate the plant to gain more succulent plants and then use the information in this article to prevent them growing long stems in the future.
  2. You move your long-stemmed succulent plant so a more sunny spot and once the stretching has stopped you can maybe replant it to fit the longer stem and find a golden spot it in your home.
  3. If you don’t want the hassle to either propagate or stop the etiolation process, then I suggest that you maybe give the plant away to someone who wants to use it. And then you buy a new succulent that is perhaps easier to maintain.

Succulent Plants That Are Easy To Maintain

To avoid long-stemmed succulents it could be good idea to get a succulent plant that is low maintain and easy to care for.

Low Light Succulents

I found some really beautiful low light succulents and I thought it could be a good idea to share some of them here. If your succulent has grown long stems and want to switch to an easier succulent to care for them this list is for you.

  • African Milk Tree: This beautiful succulent has a cactus-like appearance and will surely turn some heads from quests visiting your home. The best part if that it only required indirect light or a partially shaded spot. It can also survive longer periods without water.
  • Aloe Vera: This is a very popular plant in made home and for good reason. It has a very valueable soothing gel that can help relive pain.
  • Mistletoe Cactus: It has a very unique appearance with thin stems. Unlike many other succulents, this plant needs indirect light and not full sunshine. It can also survive in shadier spots.
  • ZZ Plants: Also known as Zenzibar gems are very tolerant and will thrive in shady conditions. The stems are a bit longer with very green small leaves giving it a very appealing look.
  • Ocean Star Hahnii: This succulent is very popular and it prefers indirect light. I has large green leaves with a yellow colors along the edges.
  • Ox Tongue: This plant will give a very desert like feel it’s appearance with green and brown color. It’s native to South Africa.
  • Pinwheel Desert Rose: Growing rose like leave formations makes this succulent very beautiful. It almost looks like a fake plant.
  • Purple Wood Spurge: With long purple and green stems, this succulent can thrive in full shade.
  • Wax Flower: A succulent that will grow stunning flowers. It can survive in partial shade, but it requires sunlight to be able to produce its flowers. It’s originates from Asia and it’s a very slow growing succulent, making it very easy to care for.
  • Windowpane Plant: These plants like shady spots, which makes them a choice for anyone who is looking for a succulent that is easy to maintain. It looks like a small triangular rose.

Trailing Succulents Perfect For Hanging In Pots Or Baskets

Some trailing succulents are also easy to care for and these are a great option you want a succulent plant that is easier to care for than others. If you are like me and enjoy trailing plants in general then you should really check out the first three plants in this list.

  • String of Pearls
  • String of Hearts
  • String of Buttons
  • Crassula Pellucida Variegata
  • Elephant Bush
  • Trailing Jade
  • Christmas Cactus
  • Porcelain Flower
  • Little Missy Sedum
  • Ice Plant


Will The Succulent Die From Growing A Long Stem?

By growing a long stem, the succulent is searching for more sunlight and as long as you provide that, the succulent will recover and survive. However if the sunlight need it not met, then yes the succulent will eventually die.

Can I Revert My Elongated Succulent?

Unfortunately you can’t revert succulent once the steam has grown long. however there is a way to fix the plant and it’s my propagation. You can replant, the top of the plant, the leaves, the steam and leave the roots in a pot. Doing this will grow new succulents and with those plants you can learn to prevent the etiolation from happening to your new plants.

What Does It Mean That My Succulent Has Went Through Etiolation?

It means that your succulent are growing in a unnatural way in relation to it’s size or appearance. When a short-stemmed type of succulent is growing long stems that is called etiolation. It goes against it’s natural behavior and it does this because it’s looking for sunlight and in order to survive.

Does A Succulent Need A Lot Of Water?

This really depends on which type of succulent you have. For example the Aeoniums really loves full sun light and with that it also requires more water than say a Windowpane Plant that loves a shady spot, hence lowering it’s need to water.

Can A Succulent Be Placed In A Shady Spot?

Yes there are many succulents that can thrive in shady spots such as Windowpane Plant, ZZ Plants or the Mistletoe Cactus. These plants can generally survive longer without sunlight that other plants, but they do enjoy some sunlight now and then.


I sure hope that you learned more about long-stemmed succulents from this article. Whether they are long-stemmed by nature or if they stretching to find more sunlight. I’ve had some succulents that went through the etiolation process and it took me a while to figure out why.

I though that I had the best spot for my succulent to get enough sunlight, but I was clearly wrong because it grew a lot of long stems and before I knew it, it had grown some really long stems. I actually did some propagation with my plant and I got many new plants, which I then moved to a location with more sunlight.

I do enjoy naturally long-stemmed succulents as well and my favorite is String of Pearls. I hope you find a succulent with long stems from the list I posted earlier in this article.

Anyway thanks for reading, I hope you found it useful. Take care!

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