A succulent’s maximum size potential depends on what type of succulent it is. Small succulents, even when properly cared for, may only reach a height of six inches, while a succulent variety that is naturally large can grow up to 12 feet long and 12 feet wide. If you want to know how big your succulent is going to get, doing research on that specific type of succulent is the best way to answer that question.
Aside from the variety of plant, factors that affect the growth of your succulent include whether it is potted or in the ground, the size of the pot, the climate, the type of soil, and whether the succulent is cared for properly.
Factors that affect succulent growth
Succulents come from some of the most arid places on earth, so it makes sense that a lot of them like plenty of sunlight. But there are those that only need a little sunlight. One example is the epiphytic cacti that prefer to live by trees for shade. When you plant them, they like to have filtered sunlight.
The plants that like direct sunlight originate from the deserts where they get little to no shade. The amount of light succulents need affects not only their growth, but also their entire survival.
Plants that prefer filtered sunlight can get sunburn when placed under direct sunlight, while those that prefer direct sunlight can become pale and feeble if they do not get the amount they need.
The best way to know how much sunlight your succulent needs is to read up on it.
Like most plants, succulents need to have soil that they can get their much-needed nutrients from. As with light, the kind of soil a succulent prefers is dependent on the type of plant you have. All succulents need soil that is well-draining, airy, has ideal organic material, and contains minimal clay.
Succulents do not like soil with lots of peat and clay because those two materials retain a lot of water. Succulents are susceptible to root rot if they are exposed to too much water, so they like their soil to have components that aid in water drainage, such as perlite, gravel, or sand.
When succulents are planted in pots, they will eventually deplete the soil of nutrients, which manifests itself in yellowing of the top leaves. You may need to repot those to keep them alive. A succulent that does not get its required amount of nutrients will not be able to reach its full maturity and size
Most succulents do not do well in freezing temperatures. Keep in mind that they come from dry deserts, so taking them to a part of the world that has winters can be a struggle for them.
There are a few cacti that do not do well in extremely hot weather, so figuring out the perfect balance for your plant is important.
As a general rule, keep your succulents in temperatures between 50 and 90 degrees Fahrenheit. Maintaining a neutral temperature as opposed to extremes will help keep your plants healthy and steadily growing
The mistake many new succulent owners commonly make is overwatering. Overwatering can lead to growth problems, root rot, and even death.
This does not mean that you should underwater your succulents. They still need to be watered; you have to look up how often your specific succulent type needs it. Underwatered succulents will grow slower and may not reach their full size potential compared to succulents that are watered appropriately.
If a succulent goes through a long period without water, it can try to adapt by going dormant. But going dormant also means that the plant will stop growing.
Succulents are often planted in tiny pots or in planters crowded with each other. This is not ideal; they need room for their roots to grow so the entire plant can grow. Placing them in a pot that is too big is also not ideal because the soil can retain too much water. The best way to do it is to repot the plant if it starts to get too big for its pot. Move gradually to slightly bigger pots until the plant is fully grown. This way their soil is replenished with nutrients and is properly aerated.
As mentioned above, succulents can go dormant if they do not get enough water. But some varieties of succulents go into dormancy as a part of their life cycles, especially ones that live in areas with winters. There are other succulents whose dormancy period is during the summer.
No matter when their dormancy season is, a succulent will grow during its growth period and cease growing during dormancy.
How big do succulents get?
When wondering about the maximum size of a succulent, it will always depend on what kind of succulent it is. The following examples can give you an idea of what to expect.
The jade plant can grow up to six feet tall when it is unpruned. When it is pruned, it can grow to around three feet. This is a low maintenance succulent that has green, oval leaves that are plump with moisture. It produces pink or white flowers, and is a favorite of bonsai enthusiasts.
This plant is smaller and will only be around eight inches tall and a foot wide. This plant blooms annually and does so all season long. Because it produces beautiful flowers, it is usually planted in hanging baskets in outdoor gardens.
Blue Chalk Sticks
This succulent can grow up to 24 inches tall and 24 inches wide. It gets its name because of the blue powdery look that its leaves have. This is often planted in the ground because it is a ground-hugging shrub. It becomes dormant in the winter and grows during the summer.
This is one of the bigger succulents, which can reach a height of five feet and a width of eight feet. Once only found in Mexico, it has long leaves that appear blue. Because of its size, it can store plenty of water, making it almost completely resistant to drought.
The zebra plant is great for the indoors. It is fully grown at six inches tall. They can be kept in tiny pots and make for great ornamental decoration on a table or windowsill.
One of the tallest succulents, the snake plant can grow to be 12 feet tall. It is very low maintenance and difficult to kill, even with minimal supervision. Snake plants are known to be effective in filtering the air around them.
This plant can reach a maximum height of 12 inches. Most varieties are typically slow-growing and will really only put in the effort of growing longer stems in order to reach light.
The aloe vera is probably the most popular variety of succulent. They can grow to be 24 inches tall and 24 inches wide.
The maximum height a succulent can achieve is greatly dependent on what kind of succulent it is. If you want to have an idea as to how big the succulent you just bought is going to get, do your research on that specific plant.
Aside from the type of plant, other factors that can affect a succulent’s growth are light, temperature, moisture, soil, dormancy, and the space it has to grow.
Image: istockphoto.com / Sara Edwards