What Happens if You Cut Off the Top of a Succulent?

If your succulent is growing tall, you might be thinking about cutting the top of it off to shorten it. Succulents are resilient plants, and you won’t be damaging them by cutting their top off. Moreover, you may end up with more succulents!

If you cut off the top of a succulent, new offshoots will begin to form. Just like with pruning, cutting or pinching off stems on a succulent will encourage new growth. Additionally, cutting off the top of a succulent and planting the cutting can create a new succulent plant.

The rest of this article will discuss when you should cut off the top of your succulent, how to prune and propagate it, and how to make a succulent grow faster after cutting it.

When Should I Cut Off the Top of My Succulent?

If you’re new to the succulent world and are trying to find more information on succulent care, you’re in the right place. Succulents are becoming more and more common—in fact, they’re one of the most popular indoor plants.

You should cut off the top of your succulent before its growing season begins or when it becomes too tall or stretched out. Cutting or pruning your succulent plant before its growing season will encourage more growth and lead to a healthier plant.

Pruning your succulent is essential to its overall health. A stretched-out succulent doesn’t look as good, consisting of extra-long stems, sad, downward-facing leaves, and a fading green color. It’ll no longer be the beautiful, vibrant succulent you’ve come to know.

While many factors contribute to a stretched-out succulent, such as a lack of sunlight or an overabundance of fertilizer, insufficient pruning is also a common reason.

If you’re unsure how to prune a succulent appropriately, keep reading!

How To Prune a Succulent

The pruning process might seem daunting for someone who’s never pruned a plant before. While there are some mistakes you can make while pruning, it’s typically hard to mess up.

To prune a succulent, follow these steps:

  1. Wait until the beginning of the growing season. While this isn’t necessary, pruning at the beginning of the growing season will result in more growth. You can check to see when your succulent’s growing season is here.
  2. Remove any old or dead leaves. Removing old or dead leaves promotes not only better growth but also improves the appearance of the succulent.
  3. Locate the leaves or stem nodes. It’s best to cut right above a leaf or stem node, so locating them beforehand will allow you to know exactly where to cut.
  4. Cut back the succulent to the desired size. I recommend using pruning scissors. Ensure that you cut the stem at a 45° angle.
  5. Wait a few days after pruning before watering. After you’ve pruned the stems back to your liking, wait 2-3 days before watering the succulents. This gives the stems time to adapt and heal from the pruning.

If you’d like to grow more succulents, taking the pruned cuttings and replanting them is also an option. I’ll talk more about this in the next section.

Can You Cut the Top of a Succulent Off and Replant it?

Now that you know how to prune your succulents, you might be wondering what you can do with these newly pruned cuttings. Luckily, if cut correctly, you can use these cuttings to create more succulents.

You can cut the top of a succulent off and replant it. Cutting off the top of a succulent and replanting it is a common way to decrease a succulent’s “legginess.” Therefore, it will make your succulent appear fuller. Additionally, you can take a cutting and propagate it for replanting.

Propagating a succulent is similar to propagating another type of plant, with the main differences being how to care for it afterward. I’ll get into more detail on how to propagate a succulent next.

How To Propagate a Succulent

The process of propagating a succulent can vary depending on the type. Because there are so many varieties, not every succulent will require the same care. Nevertheless, the initial process is typically the same.

There are three ways to propagate a succulent: leaf propagation, stem propagation, and seed propagation.

Here are the steps to propagate a succulent through leaf or stem propagation:

  1. Locate the healthy leaves on the succulent. Choosing healthy leaves to propagate will give it the best chance of growing into a healthy plant.
  2. Gently twist off a healthy leaf (or leaves) to propagate. You can gently twist the leaf off the plant or use a pair of pruning scissors. You can also cut off the top of the succulent for propagation.
  3. Let the cutting dry out. It’s essential to allow the cutting time to dry out and form a scab. If you water the cutting before it scabs over, it can drown the cutting and cause it to die. It’s best to wait 2-3 days.
  4. Once the cutting has formed a scab, place it in the soil. Lay the cuttings on top of the soil, gently pressing the bottom of the cutting into the soil. 
  5. Once the cutting or cuttings are arranged on the soil, place the pot in indirect sunlight. Don’t place propagating succulents in direct sunlight, as you risk burning the leaves.
  6. Water the cutting or cuttings with a spray bottle. Overwatering a cutting can cause it to rot, so just keep the top of the soil moist.
  7. Once the succulents have begun to grow, you can transplant them to different pots. Waiting around two months after propagating is ideal, as it gives the succulent ample time to grow.

If you’re more of a visual learner, I recommend checking out this YouTube video by Urban Gardening:

How Long Does a Succulent Take to Root?

If you’ve just finished propagating a succulent leaf or head, your next question is probably, “how long does it take to root?” While the type of succulent you use will determine how much time it takes to root, there are other factors, such as sunlight and water.

Succulents take two to three weeks to root. While this amount of time varies significantly depending on the type of succulent, most will root in around three weeks. However, it’s essential to supply the succulent with the correct amount of water and sunlight to promote root growth.

It is essential to wait until the cutting heals before putting it in the soil. If you don’t wait the 2-3 days it takes to heal, the plant could rot. Planting it in the soil after it’s healed, giving it plenty of indirect sunlight, and lightly watering it will help the succulent root quicker.

How Can I Make Succulents Grow Faster?

Whether you’ve bought a baby succulent or you’re growing it from a seed, plant lovers love to watch their succulents grow. However, if it’s not growing as fast as you would like, you may be wondering what you can do to promote better (and quicker) growth for your beloved succulent.

You can make succulents grow faster by providing good quality soil, spreading the roots, repotting crowded succulents, and pruning. Succulent care is typically easy, but ensuring the succulent gets adequate sunlight and water is essential for optimal growth.

If you’ve cut off the top of a succulent and want it to grow faster, there are several things you can do.

Provide the Succulent With Good Quality Soil

Everyone knows that good-quality soil will do wonders for your plants. Soil gives plants the nutrients they need to thrive, so to promote faster growth, soil quality is essential.

A regular potting mix isn’t ideal when it comes to succulent care. A succulent mix, such as the Miracle-Gro Succulent Potting Mix from Amazon.com, is best suited for this type of plant. This potting mix is fast-draining, which is necessary for succulents, and provides all the nutrients your plant needs.

Spread the Succulent’s Roots

As succulents grow, their roots circle each other and become crowded. While this isn’t necessarily bad, the tighter the roots are bound together, the fewer nutrients they can absorb from the soil.

Be careful when uprooting the plant so you don’t mess up the roots and cause damage to the plant. 

Repot Crowded Succulents

Succulents typically thrive in crowded areas. While you don’t have to repot them and give them a lot of room, repotting some of the succulents will allow the ones left in the pot more room for the roots. In turn, this will allow the succulent to absorb more nutrients from the soil without fighting for it from other plants.

Prune the Succulent

Lastly, pruning your succulent plant will encourage better, faster growth. Taking cuttings from a succulent, or cutting the top off of a succulent to replant, will encourage it to grow more.

This is ideal for succulent plants that are tall and leggy, as it promotes healthier growth.

Final Thoughts

Cutting off the top of a succulent will cause more offshoots to form. While most people will cut off the top of their succulents to decrease the legginess of the plant, others do it so they can replant the top and create a new succulent plant. 

Therefore, if you want your succulents to grow faster and be healthier, cutting off the top or some leaves will help you do just that.

Alexander Picot

Alexander Picot is the principal creator of TheGrowingLeaf.com, a website dedicated to gardening tips. Inspired by his mother’s love of gardening, Alex has a passion for taking care of plants and turning backyards into feel-good places and loves to share his experience with the rest of the world.

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