The classification “succulent” covers a massive variety of plants from many different species and genera, each with different properties, including growth size. Depending on the succulent you have, your plant may grow quite large or stay rather small. Regardless, all succulents have opportunities for growth as long as they’re given proper love and attention.
Factors that Affect Growth
Despite their variety, all succulents have similar care needs and growth requirements. The following aspects are the most basic things that’ll affect your succulent’s growth:
The amount of light your succulent receives will directly affect its growth. With less sunlight, your succulent has less energy to photosynthesize and will thus grow at a much slower pace. The more sunlight your plant receives, the more likely it is to grow. However, some succulents have tender leaves that will burn in direct sunlight. Sunburnt leaves will not photosynthesize, so it’s best to keep your succulents in bright, indirect sunlight. Turning your succulent around once every so often will also help it grow fuller and more symmetrical.
Bright, indirect sunlight is best for succulents' grow.
Photo by Thang Tat Nguyen
Water is another factor that directly affects the speed at which your succulents grow. Water is required for photosynthesis; the less water your succulents have, the less material it has to photosynthesize. Watering your succulents whenever their soil is completely dry to the touch is the best way to ensure your succulents get plenty of water, but not too much.
Watering succulents whenever their soil is completely dry to touch.
Photo by agrobacter
Soil and Nutrients
Soil provides your succulents with nutrients that it needs to grow and a medium for the roots to cling to. It’s essential to provide succulents with well-draining soil to prevent root rot and overwatering, which will stall your plant’s growth. Your succulent’s nutrient levels will also play a role in its growth. To find the happy medium, check out our in-depth care guides for your specific plant.
It’s essential to provide succulents with well-draining soil to prevent root rot and overwatering.
Photo by Susan Gary
The size of your pot can also play a role in how your succulent grows; if your succulent is in a pot that’s too small, it can become root-bound and stop growing altogether. If you want to keep your succulent relatively small, you can trim its roots, so it stays about the same size all the time.
Larger pots don’t necessarily mean larger succulents. Your succulent will have more room to grow and more time to fill the pot– its growth rate won’t change.
Your environment’s average temperature will also affect how your succulent grows. If your succulent is exposed to a chilly breeze or cooler temperatures in the winter, then it’ll grow slower than usual. However, some succulents don’t like hot weather and will wilt in hot, humid climates.
Generally speaking, outdoor succulents tend to grow much larger than their indoor counterparts because they have more space to spread out.
Outdoor succulents tend to grow much larger than their indoor counterparts.
Photo by Lisa Romerein
So, what kinds of succulents get the biggest? Since size is relative, we’ve broken up our biggest growers into several categories based on how they grow.
Succulents that grow tall are often more compact than other succulents and gain verticality as they grow as opposed to horizontal spread. Common tall-growers include:
- Echeveria, if you prune it
- Kalanchoe Succulents
- Snake Plant
- Elephant Bush
- Cacti, like the Fishbone Cactus or Blue Candle
These succulents make for great ground cover since they spread along the ground relatively quickly. Spreader succulents’ size comes from horizontal growth, not vertical growth. Common spreaders include:
Trailing succulents may seem compact, depending on where you keep them. However, they have vines that can grow quite long. Common trailing succulents include:
These succulents are your best bet if you’re looking for something a bit more compact. Compact succulents tend to stay small their entire lives and are best kept in the home. Common compact succulents include:
- Lithops Living Stones
- Air Plants (although they aren’t really succulents)
- Split Rock
- Moonstones Pachyphytum
Some succulents that reproduce via offshoots stay relatively compact but can spread out pretty far through their pups. To keep these succulents compact, simply prune off or propagate your mother plant’s offshoots as needed. Succulents that stay small but spread via offshoots include: