Succulent Etiolation: All You Need to Know

You’ve arrived at the right site if you’re curious about succulent etiolation and what to do about it. Succulents are popular houseplants because they are low-maintenance and easy to grow. However, one day you awaken to find that your gorgeous house plant has grown lanky, spread out, and turned pale in color.

Not quite what you were hoping for? Your succulent has most likely etiolated if you detect these indicators. This article will explain what etiolation is and how to solve succulent etiolation in detail.

Succulents that are etiolated are a common problem, and there are many things you can do to help a plant with this issue, but first, let’s explain what etiolation is.

What is Etiolation?

By limiting light, etiolate causes (a plant) to whiten or grow pale, according to the dictionary definition. An irregular growth pattern, on the other hand, is a more distinguishing feature. Instead of the normal tight-knit leaves, your succulent will appear long, lanky, twisted, and stretched.

Plants other than succulents and cactus can get elongated, and it is a common problem for a variety of popular plant groupings.

What causes succulent etiolation in the first place?

Light deprivation causes succulent etiolation, although water and temperature can also play a role. Etiolation is a reaction mechanism to limited sunlight that is especially frequent in indoor succulents.

When a plant requires more light, it will extend and expand to the point where it believes it will receive the most light. This is how your succulent will appear extended, crooked, and silly. They also seem frail and pale as they expend a great deal of energy in order to grow tall.

Etiolation is most frequent in indoor houseplants due to insufficient illumination, especially for some of the most light-loving succulents. If succulents are kept in the shade for most of the day, they may etiolate.

Plants, succulents, and cacti all etiolate because they require sunshine to complete photosynthesis. Plants and other creatures employ this mechanism to transform light energy into chemical energy that may then be released to power their activities (view source). It’s just a fancy phrase for plants feeding themselves because plants, like people, are food-dependent.

What are the signs that I have an etiolated succulent?

When you have an etiolated succulent, it’s typically quite clear, but don’t confuse quick growth for a starved plant. If you’re not sure whether or not your houseplant is etiolated, there are a few obvious symptoms to watch for.

The leaves are pointing downwards

If you suspect succulent etiolation, the first thing you should do is inspect the leaves. Echeveria, a rosette-forming succulent, is known for its beautiful upright leaf design. If the plant isn’t getting enough light, the leaves will begin to droop and finally fall to the ground.

This is the first indicator of an etiolated succulent since the plant is adjusting to obtain more light by creating a surface area.

The color is pale and faded

A pale, white, or bleached color is the next thing to look for. Chlorophyll is responsible for the usual brilliant green hue we all know and adore. Chlorophyll is a green photosynthetic pigment found in plants, algae, and cyanobacteria, according to Science Daily.

If your succulent doesn’t get enough direct sunshine, Chlorophyll won’t produce, leaving your plant looking pale green or white.

Rapid, crooked, and lanky growth

Finally, the bending, lanky, stretched-out, and extended growth pattern is the most visible evidence of succulent etiolation. This generally happens pretty quickly as well. Because your plant can’t keep up with the development of new leaves at the same rate as it grows, the leaves on your succulent will seem spread apart.

An etiolated succulent will typically be twisted and have weak stems as a result of its eagerness to get light. This is because it is attempting to reach photosynthesis with as much light as possible. This weakening stem will eventually break off and perish.

Fixing succulent etiolation

Unfortunately, once a succulent has been stretched out, it cannot be returned to its original size. It’s impossible to reshape the etiolation of succulents. You can always trim your succulent to make it seem ‘normal’ and make sure it’s near a window that gets direct sunshine, but your plant will never look the same again visually.

Otherwise, your plant’s leaves will burn if it isn’t brought back into the sunshine. Increase the quantity of sunshine it receives by 30 minutes every day over time.

But it’s not all doom and gloom. If you don’t like your leggy companion, you can always propagate it with the trimmings and have even more attractive houseplants! In approximately 2-3 weeks, roots will begin to develop on your cut-off, and then offshoots will sprout. After that, you may properly care for your new succulent and watch it develop into a healthy, happy, green plant.

How do you avoid succulent etiolation?

When growing succulents indoors, etiolation is something you don’t want to happen, and it may be a real pain. There are a few precautions you can take to avoid having to deal with the trouble of attempting to ‘repair’ an etiolated succulent, as we discussed above.

First and foremost, place your succulents in a south-facing, well-lit window. Succulents require at least 4-6 hours of direct sunshine every day to survive, and any less will cause them to suffer.

However, as previously said, too much sunshine may cause sunburn, which is a separate concern! If this happens, transfer the succulent to a bright room where it won’t be exposed to direct sunlight.

If you don’t have the time to provide your plant with the daily dose of sunshine it requires, you may consider investing in a growth lamp. These lights emit photosynthesis wavelengths, ensuring that your plants continue to thrive even on the darkest of days.

Finally, take a look at your surroundings and consider switching to a succulent that is less prone to etiolation.

Is my etiolated succulent going to die?

Succulents are extremely flexible and resourceful, and once etiolated, they can live for many years. Your succulent should be alright as long as you progressively relocate it to receive more sunshine each day. Many people are dissatisfied with the aesthetics, more or less.

What succulents are susceptible to etiolation?

Some varieties of succulent etiolation are more prevalent than others. So, which succulents are susceptible to etiolation? The majority of the time, we discover succulent etiolation in rosette succulents, such as:

  • Echeveria
  • Sedum
  • Crassula
  • Sedeveria
  • Graptosedum

If you wish to prevent succulent etiolation entirely, we strongly advise you to try a different type of succulent than the ones listed above. An etiolated succulent, especially for Crassula, might cause your jade plant to shed leaves.


We hope that now that you have the answers to all of your concerns about succulent etiolation, you can begin taking the precautions necessary to avoid ever having to deal with an etiolated houseplant.

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