How to Keep Succulents Small: 5 Pro Tips

Succulents are popular plants because of their versatility. They can thrive virtually anywhere, be it your home garden, beside your window, or your office table.

That said, the secret to keeping these floras small lies in the condition of their environment. The sun, the container, your watering schedule, as well as your caring style—all contribute to this.

In today’s post, we’ll be talking about all the things you should do (and shouldn’t do) to keep your plants adorable. Follow our lead if you want to know how to keep succulents small.

Succulent isolated oh grey background

1.  Small Pot

Limiting the amount of space that your succulent plants can grow in will limit their size. Thus, small pots and shallow containers are a surefire way to keep them cute and small.

In addition, compact containers confine the root systems of succulents. This will help slow their growth, but it’s crucial that your pots have good drainage so they don’t die.

Mixing inorganic mulches, like gravel and stones, into your potting mix will have the same effect as well. This prevents the roots from sprouting in every direction, which results in rapid growth.

2.  More Sun

Succulents are slow-growers because they’re mostly desert plants. They don’t have to compete for sunlight, so they don’t need to extend or expand their stems so much.

With that in mind, putting your succulent plants in a sunny spot will help them keep their size. If they don’t get enough sunlight, they’ll have a tendency to grow quickly.

Relocate your succulents near east or west-facing windows so that they get the amount of sunlight they need. If that’s not possible, you can place them outside for five to six hours a day.

3.  Less Water

Watering succulents in a small pot

Water is the most important component of plant growth. Thus, giving your succulents less water will keep them miniature.

To get the best results, only water them once or twice a month.

This method will not only keep them small, but it’ll also improve your flora’s survival ability. It will increase their tolerance to drought and make them less likely to wilt easily.

If you’re giving them fertilizer, it’s better to cut it back as well. Only fertilize them when necessary—during spring and summer—as their growing season kicks off.

4.  Pruning Method

If you badly want to maintain the shape or size of your succulents, then pruning them is your best resort. This is especially true if your floras have etiolated stems.

Etiolation is an abnormal growth spurt in your plants’ stems. It’s the result of a lack of sunlight that prompts the plants to seek it out by extending themselves.

When this happens, it’s best to prune them to get them back in shape. Follow these steps to prune your succulent plants:

  1. Examine the plant carefully and decide which part of the foliage needs to be pruned, prioritizing dead or unhealthy parts.
  2. Using pruning shears or a pair of scissors, cut the elongated stems close to the soil.
  3. By cutting the plant to the base, you’re allowing new plantlets to grow where you cut it.
  4. Once you’re done cutting, slightly water the succulent to replace lost moisture.
  5. Finally, place your plant in a bright area and let the cutting wounds dry.

To keep them healthy, prune your succulent plants during spring—their growing season. If you have flowering succulents, prune them after their flowering season or when they’re dormant.

Collect the cuttings and separate the stems from the succulent “heads.” You can replant these heads to grow new succulent flowers.

Allow the cutting wound of the succulent heads to dry for 10 to 14 days in a shaded area. Then, place them in well-lit, slightly moist soil and they’ll grow roots and stems in no time.

Users Also Read: How to Get Rid of Aphids on Succulents

5.  Want Small? Pick Small

Not wanting to sound obvious, but before you think of keeping these plants mini-sized, make sure that you pick a succulent that’s naturally small.

Some varieties of succulents grow larger than others, so you have to choose ones with the size and variety that appeal to you the most.

Have a look at some succulent varieties that stay small.

1.   Blossfeldia liliputana

So, you want them small, huh? Then you’ll be thrilled to know about Blossfeldia liliputana—the smallest type of cacti you’ll ever see.

Standing tall (or short) at less than half an inch, these adorable plants will take your thing for small flowers to a whole different level. Plus, caring for them is easy, too!

They grow in between stones and rocks, even on rocky slopes and cliffs. So, in terms of survivability, just give them enough sunlight and they’ll be tough as tough can go!

2.   Echeveria minima

As the name suggests, this is a succulent plant that’s miniature-sized. The name literally translates to “small” Echeveria, so it’s the perfect plant to fill that empty spot on your office table.

Believe it or not, this flora can reach a height of only about one-half inch! Its attractive clustered rosette also adds to the popularity of this succulent.

3.   Lithops

If you’re aiming for a succulent plant that stands out yet is small enough to sit snugly on your windowsill, then lithops are for you.

Shaped like small stones cut in half, these cute and colorful floras are a real eye-catcher.

Plus, if you take care of them well enough, they’ll reward you with their beautiful flowers!

4.   Fasciated haworthia (Zebra Plant)

Fasciated haworthia succulent

Short but wide, this South African native succulent will surely appeal to anyone. It’s about three inches tall and six inches wide, perfect to add green and life to your tabletop counter.

These striped beauties are easy to care for because they prefer low-light environments, making them great indoor plants. Just make sure that they’re watered enough and you’re good to go!

5.   Sempervivum (House Leeks)

If you’re a fan of rosettes, then get yourself a sempervivum. These have a wide variety of colors and shapes, so you’ll never get bored with them.

They have an attractive lotus-shaped, thickly layered rosette that only grows three inches tall. Because they thrive under the bright sun, they’re perfect to line up on your balconies and porch!

How Long Will Succulents Remain Small?

A miniature succulent can survive anywhere from a few months to years. It all depends on the type of succulent and the care you’re giving it.

Keep in mind, however, that it wants to grow eventually and may need to be repotted to survive. Once this happens, you’ll see signs similar to a dehydrated plant.

Related: How To Bottom Water Succulents (Plus Care Tips)

How to Repot Your Succulent If It Grows Larger

If you’re certain that you can no longer keep your succulent plants small in the same container, then it’s best to repot them.

Here’s how to repot a succulent:

  1. First, gently pry your succulent out of its current pot.
  2. You can use a knife or you can break the pot with a hammer if it’s root bound.
  3. Once it’s out, shake away the old soil, untangle any knotted roots, and cut the unhealthy ones.
  4. Transfer the plant to your new pot and fill it with soil.
  5. Finally, secure the succulent by pressing down on the soil around it.

When repotting succulents (or any plant) it’s important that you transfer them into containers that are at least 10% larger than their previous pot. This is to accommodate growth.

Another thing to note is to never repot these plants during their dormancy or blooming periods. They’re weaker during these times, and they might not survive repotting.

Final Thoughts

Who doesn’t want adorable little succulents? They’re perfect to place anywhere to add life and color to your office, home, and garden.

Keeping your succulents small requires extra effort. You need to put them in small containers, give them enough sunlight, watch your watering schedule, and prune them.

Finally, if you want them small for a long time, you need to choose carefully the type of succulent to have.

If you’re new to succulent plants, here’s an article to kickstart your planting journey: Succulents: Plant Care and Growing Guide.