How big a succulent grows depends on its species variety, its growing conditions, how fast it grows, and, of course, what you consider big or small. There are hundreds of known succulent genera and thousands of known succulent species on earth. While some remain small for long periods of time, there are also succulents that can grow relatively big in a matter of months.
If you ask me “How big do succulents grow?” my question in return will be “What time span are we talking about?” You see, given enough time, even generally “small” succulents can grow relatively big.
Succulents, like some other slow-growing plants, can live for decades and continue growing throughout the course of their lives.
As long as a succulent is alive, it will continue to grow.
There are some varieties of succulents that grow faster than others, and because they do, they appear bigger than other succulents.
For example, the Kalanchoe is one of the fastest growing succulents and therefore is able to grow exponentially big compared to other succulents. They can go from cuttings to fully rooted plants in a matter of weeks.
In some cases, the Kalanchoe is considered invasive because of the way it proliferates. They grow new plants (or pups) easily with little-to-no effort on your part. One two-inch Kalanchoe plant can produce dozens of pups and grow fairly big in a matter of months.
There are different ways a succulent can grow bigger. Some succulents, like the Haworthia, get big by producing copies of themselves, also called pups. Given enough space, they will spread indefinitely.
Some succulents grow into huge plants on its own. The Jade Plant, or Crassula Ovata, for example, is one succulent that look relatively small when you purchase it but can grow into a significantly huge plant.
The Agave is also another succulent that grows to be enormous and is therefore more suitably grown outdoors as a landscape plant.
What Factors Affect Succulent Growth?
In general, succulents grow bigger, taller and more spindly under low light conditions but stays compact and small if given sufficient light.
If the climate is warm enough, succulents tend to grow bigger at a faster rate.
As with other plants, succulents that grow in soil with nutrients will grow bigger and faster than succulents that grow in non-organic soil medium.
Besides soil, providing fertilizer to succulents will also promote their growth at a faster rate.
Succulents that receive sufficient amount of water in intervals tend to grow bigger and faster compared to succulents that are left in “drought” conditions.
5. Growth period
A succulent grows at a much faster rate during its growth season compared to its dormant season. When a succulent enters dormancy, sometimes its growth ceases completely.
You may notice your winter-growing succulents outgrow your summer-growing succulents during winter, and vice-versa.
Succulents such as the Echeveria and Graptoveria will likely bloom during the Spring and Summer months, which is their growth phase. If the plant is allowed to continue blooming, its overall growth will slow down as all its energy is diverted to the new bloom.
To promote growth during this period, a cool tip is to cut the bloom off.
Succulents that are planted in tight containers or in an arrangement with other succulents will grow slower than succulents that are planted in containers with sufficient room.
However, while you want to provide a sizable container for your succulents, avoid too big a container because then the soil will retain too much water and may cause root rot.
Examples of Succulents That Grow Relatively Big
Echeveria grows rather rapidly during their growth phase which falls in the Spring and Summer months. Echeveria tends to overgrow, and it quickly puts out new leaves in the center of the plant when its surrounding conditions are optimal. A two-inch plant can easily grow to about 8 inches in under a year.
A cross hybrid between the Graptopetalum and Echeveria, the Graptoveria has similar growth characteristics as its ancestor, the Echeveria. A two-inch plant can easily grow to about 7 inches in under a year.
One of the fastest growing succulents, the Kalanchoe puts out new growth so excessively that it is sometimes considered invasive. Some Kalanchoe species also grow to be very huge, fast!
All Aloes grow to be very big in time. One of the most famous plants, the Aloe Vera, demonstrates how large an aloe can grow, given sufficient space and in optimal conditions. Aloes can grow from 2 inches to about 6 inches in under a year.
Sedum comes in hundreds of different varieties, and they form hybrids with each other. Sedums proliferate, and they can occupy bare spots around them with ease. They are quite resilient and hardy, and can expand from a two-inch plant to about 1 foot in about a year.
A cross hybrid between the Graptopetalum and Sedum, the Graptosedum are made up of varieties that sprawl like the Sedum, and varieties that grow wide like the Graptopetalum. The Graptosedum does not grow wide very fast, going from 2 inches to only 4 inches in under a year. However, those that sprawl can go from only 2 inches to cover 7-9 inches in about a year.
The growth of the Crassula varies greatly depending on whether they are grown indoors or outdoors. When grown indoors, some crassula like the Crassula Ovata (Jade Plant) will have a slower growth rate (about an inch a year) and tend to remain compact. Outdoors, the Crassula will thrive and grow rapidly, doubling in size in about a year.
Examples of Succulents That Remain Relatively Small
The Haworthia is an extremely slow grower. Because of this, the Haworthia remains compact and small and is a perfect choice of tabletop plant. It grows, on average, about 2 inches a year, sometimes less.
The Gasteria is another slow grower that remains relatively small compared to its relative, the Aloe. Like the Haworthia, it is a perfect choice of tabletop plant because of its size and low-light requirements. Also like the Haworthia, it grows, on average, about 2 inches a year or less.
How Big Do Succulents Grow – Do They Overgrow?
Young succulents, like the ones you purchase from stores, can stay in small pots anytime from a few weeks to a year. However, they will eventually begin to outgrow their original pots, depending again on the type of succulent and the care that is provided to them.
Succulents that have outgrown its containers, if not repotted or refreshed, will begin to look unhappy and even spill out of its container. Their roots may also start to grow out of the holes of the container. If you notice any of these signs, it is time to either repot or refresh your succulents.
How to Refresh Overgrown Succulents?
Some people prefer large succulents, while some others prefer small, compact succulents. Sometimes, we may find that our succulents have grown too big to our personal liking. In this case, what can we do to “shrink” our succulents?
Fortunately, we CAN easily reduce the size of our succulents. In fact, reducing the size of our succulents is much faster than growing succulents! The way you do it, though, depends on the species of the succulent involved.
One option is to merely propagate the succulent. Take a leaf cutting, and start growing a new plant. This is, however, very time consuming. Alternatively, you can take stem cuttings and plant them as new plants.
For example, to “shrink” an overgrown Echeveria, simply remove the lower leaves, leaving intact as many top leaves as you wish the final plant to have. Next, cut the stem about ½ to 1 inch below the lowest remaining leaf, let the wound callous over for about a week, before putting into soil to grow succulents from cuttings.
To reduce the size of an overgrown Haworthia, for example, simply remove one of its pups and repot it (an overgrown Haworthia would have produced plenty of pups already). On a side note, you can get the best soil for succulents in pots if you plan to do any repotting.
To “shrink” an overgrown Jade Plant, simply cut off one of its stems, let it callous over for a week before putting into soil.
Note: You may want to water the plant 1 day before you do this. Find out why here.
p.s: You might also be interested in how to buy purple succulents, we have an in-depth post on what to look out for.