Featured by “Echeveria ‘Black Prince'” by Viperalus is licensed under CC BY-NC-SA 2.0

Succulents can be just as frustrating as they are beautiful. Are your succulents becoming wide, leggy, and all stretched out? Are the leaves yellowing or falling off? If you answered yes, then your succulent has etiolation, which means it is growing with insufficient light and stretching out to get more light.

You will do anything to reverse the process, but you don’t want to lose the beauty of your plant in the process. But how do you save an etiolated succulent? In many cases, you can save your succulent.

Here are steps you can take to save your etiolated succulents. Let’s take a moment to understand why your succulents are stretched out.

Why Do Succulents Grow Tall and Leggy?

When there is insufficient sunlight, succulents etiolate or stretch. When a succulent doesn’t have enough light it will reach for the light source. As it grows, it will modify its shape and spread out in search of light. 

What is Etiolation?

The etiolation process occurs when a flowering plant grows in partial or complete darkness. Among its characteristics are long, weak stems, small leaves with long internodes, and a yellow color known as chlorosis. Light deprivation causes etiolation.

What does it mean when a succulent is stretched?

A succulent stretches for one main reason: The lack of sunlight. Sounds simple, right? In the beginning stages, your succulents will gradually bend toward the light to get as much light as possible. However, if the problem is not corrected quickly, your succulent will become taller with gaps between its leaves and possibly start to lose its color.

What are the signs of etiolation or a stretched succulent?

  • The succulent stem is stretched or leggy
  • Growing taller or bending towards the sun or light source
  • Large spaces or gaps in between each leaf
  • Leaves that are smaller than usual
  • Leaves growing yellow in color (chlorosis)

Can you fix leggy succulents?

The answer is yes, you can fix leggy or stretched succulents. However, succulents suffering from etiolation will not return to their former shape without intervention.

How to Fix Stretched Succulents

Succulent Roots

What To Do When You Notice Your Plant Stretching and Getting Leggy?

If succulents are suffering from etiolation, they will not be able to return to their original shape without intervention. The following tips will guide you in correcting your stretched succulent.

Tips to Fix Leggy and Stretched Succulents

You will have a better chance of achieving a favorable outcome if you correct the situation as soon as possible. Here are a few steps you can take to help your leggy succulents.

1. Move your succulents

If your succulent starts to stretch toward the light, move it to an area that receives more sunlight. When you stop etiolation at this stage, you can prevent large gaps between leaves and the loss of color.

2. Grow Lights

Grow lights to Fix Leggy and Stretched Succulents

Provide your succulents with adequate sunlight or supplement with affordable grow lights.

3. Rotate Your Plants

Rotate your succulent occasionally if it only gets light from specific angles. It will prevent your succulent from leaning to one side in search of light.

4. Create New Succulents from clippings

  1. With a sterile cutting tool, remove the leaves from the long, stretched part of the succulent stem.
  2. Cut off the very top of the succulent to propagate it.
  3. Leave the stem cuttings/clippings to callous.
  4. Fill a shallow container with succulent soil and plant your cuttings. Your cuttings should be placed on top of the soil, and you should let them callous for a few days before watering. Place in a sunny spot, but shield from harsh sun.
  5. The final step is to keep the soil moist, but not drenched, and you will soon see the cuttings growing new roots and new growth.
Propagating Succulents

In order to prevent etiolation from happening again, move your succulent to a better spot that provides adequate lighting for your succulent type

How to prevent a stretched succulent:

LIGHT! You can prevent your succulents from stretching out by providing them with more light light.

How to prevent a stretched succulent

In conclusion, you can turn a disaster into a success. If you have a succulent that has been etiolated, provide adequate lighting or use grow lights to supplement to prevent you succulent from stretching out.