Hen and Chick Plant Growing Tall: 4 Common Reasons with Smart Fixes

Hen and chick are amazingly cute little succulent plants that can grow well inside and out.

However, sometimes these plant types can suffer from certain stressors which can dramatically negatively change their aesthetics. One of the most common deformities that can occur is the lengthening of the stems and a weak or bare presence.

So, is your hen and chick plant growing tall? If yes, then this article is just for you.

This issue makes them look taller or ‘leggy’ compared to their usual cute plump display. This is generally caused by insufficient light. If left unattended, the plant will slowly weaken and eventually die.

Luckily there are a few simple tricks you can apply to fix the issue if corrected once spotted. In this article, we’ll show you how. Let’s go!

Hen and chick plant growing tall

Why is my hen and chick plant growing tall?

The primary reason a hen and chick plant grows leggy and tall is inadequate light. However, there are also a handful of other reasons why the same result may occur. Let’s have a look at them in a little more detail.

Inadequate or Lack of Proper Light Source

When a hen and chick plant is deprived of its light source, it will grow upwards in search of the light rays that help it to grow properly.

Almost every plant needs light for photosynthesis. Some require more light than others. Photosynthesis is a process that a plant uses to convert the light from the sun, oxygen, and water into usable energy in the form of carbohydrates.

Inadequate or Lack of Proper Light Source on Hen and chick plant

They rely on this energy to grow, bloom, and seed. Inadequate light results in slow or even no production of carbohydrates. As a result, energy stores become depleted, and the plant will die without growing energy. 


Overwatering cannot cause a hen and chick plant to grow tall alone. However, it will contribute to the plant’s demise by not allowing the roots the oxygen it requires for photosynthesis.

When applied, it slowly seeps into the soil and surrounds the root system to help distribute and dilute nutrients.

overwatering Hen and chick plant

If too much water is administered or the soil/pot drainage is poor, the roots can essentially become suffocated by the water. Suffocation will block all access for oxygen to penetrate the root system. This will reduce the effectiveness of the photosynthesis process.

If this is the case, the plant will try harder to search for sunlight as it struggles with excess water. As a result, it may look a lot weaker and bare. Furthermore, when excess moisture pools around a root system, it will slowly rot out and kill the plant. 

Excessive Fertilization

Feeding your hen and chick too much fertilizer can also cause them to become leggy and weak. These types of plants require almost no fertilization. If they do not receive too much, they will utilize the plant food and grow abnormally.

use Excessive Fertilization

Their stems grow the most and can stretch while the leaves become stunted. These two characteristics make the plant look unusually gangly and bare. The excess fertilizer can also discolor the leaves as it burns them out. 


It’s common for a hen and chick plant to flower after two or three years as it goes through its reproductive phase. When this occurs, a tall stem will shoot out from one of the rosettes and bare a cluster of flowers.

This tall stem will have very few or no leaves and a leggy appearance. This is another instance of a hen and chick plant growing unusually tall. 

How To Fix Hen and Chick Plant From Growing Tall?

When a hen and chick plant grows uncharacteristically tall, it can be a bit of a surprise. The stems stretch and increase in length, and the leaves become stunted. This makes them look weak and bare. Understanding the reasons behind these unusual changes can help solve them as soon as possible.

The bottom line is that there is hope if the problem is spotted early enough. Let’s look at how to correct this issue when it comes to growing them indoors and outdoors. 

For Indoor

The main cause for a hen and chick plant to grow tall is its inability to receive light. This can be a bit tricky to solve depending on where you live and what your living conditions are like. These plants need at least 6-8 hours of direct sunlight per day to optimize their growth.

If you notice that they are becoming a bit leggy and bare, moving them to somewhere where they can receive more light is a good idea. This can be in the form of a window sill or artificial lighting such as grow lights. This process may take a bit of trial and error. Some window sills don’t receive any sun but a little light which is still ok.

For Outdoor

Outdoor plants have the luxury of being out in the open air, with much more freedom and space to move them around. If, for whatever reason, your plants are starting to stretch out, then try moving them around a bit. This leggy process can take quite some time to form.

So if you realize early on that it is becoming problematic, there is no reason to stress. Remember that most succulents don’t fare so well in colder temperatures.

If the mercury gets below that freezing point and snow starts to form, it’s a good idea to get them indoors to recover. The same goes for extreme heat. 

Can You Cut the Stretched Parts Of It?

Once a hen and chick plant starts to stretch out, it cannot revert to its original size. The only way to resolve this issue is by cutting the stem back and encouraging regrowth.

Unfortunately, you’ll have to start the growing process again with either the stems or by propagating some of the leaves. This can be achieved by doing the following:

Can You Cut the Stretched Parts Of It
  1. Remove the plant from its pot and shake off any excess growing medium, so the roots are bare. 
  2. Take a clean, sterilized pair of pruning shears or scissors and remove most roots from the root ball. You should have a bare root ball that can still grow roots. 
  3. Gently remove the lower leaves from the stem. Try to cut them off clean and as close to the stem as possible. Only leaves that are removed without being damaged can be propagated. Otherwise, they can be thrown away. Aim to leave the rosette, plus some leaves around its base.
  4. If the stem is too long for the pot you want to plant it in, trim ,it so it is 1-2 inches from the underside of the remaining leaves.
  5. Prepare your pot with a good quality succulent/cactus mix. 
  6. Poke your finger down the center to accommodate the stem and gently push it in. Pack some soil around the edges, so it is stable.
  7. Do not water it for 1 week so the wounded leaves can heal. Otherwise, they act like a sponge and soak in the water, which can cause rotting quite fast.

Additional Tips for Growing Hen And Chick Plants

The Hen and Chick plant is generally pretty simple to grow and nurture. Furthermore, it can thrive in a range of different conditions. However, some requirements should be met to keep this cute little ground covering succulent happy. They include:

Additional Tips for Growing Hen And Chick Plants

Maintain a Proper Watering Schedule

Hen and Chick don’t need to be watered as often as most plants. Watering them once per week is usually sufficient. However, the warmer seasons will dry them out faster than normal. Therefore they’ll need a little extra moisture. Giving them a good drink twice per week will keep them happy.

When winter starts to set in, these types of plants do not need any water at all. The best way to check water, regardless of the seasons, is by sticking a finger into the soil and checking for moisture. If your finger gets wet,n you don’t need to add water.

Always let the water completely dry out before adding any more. Never overwater a succulent, as it will cause the roots to rot and kill the plant. 

Use Top Quality Soil Only

These plants prefer well draining soil such as sand or gravel mixes. There are blends that you can purchase that are specifically designed for succulents and cacti. The most important thing to remember is to minimize water pooling around the roots, as they can rot out quite easily. 

Use Pots with Drainage Holes

Similar to the soil type, hens and chicks need good drainage. Using pots with adequate holes will help to reduce the risk of pooling water around the roots. These plants like to absorb only the required water and then have it all run out of the pot’s base through the drainage holes. 

Arrange Adequate Lighting

Adequate light is extremely important to all plants, especially succulents. If the light isn’t sufficient enough, the plant will grow leggy and die if left for too long. It will struggle to produce the energy it requires to grow.

Try to have them sitting somewhere that gets at least 6-8 hours of direct sunlight per day. If that is not possible,, it can be worth investing in artificial lighting to help them grow.

Use Fertilizers

Hen and Chicks do not require any fertilization at all. They are smaller plants and get all of their energy through photosynthesis.

However, if there is one time they may need a light sprinkle of some plant food, it would be in the middle of spring. This would allow them to utilize the food when full growth occurs during summer.

Cut the Stretched Parts

Once these plants stretch out, they will not return to their original form. The only way to deal with the change in characteristics is to prepare them for propagation. You can do this by removing the roots (keep the ball), stripping the leaves off the stem until 1-2 inches remain under the main rosette then replating the clean stem with the fresh succulent mix.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

How big do hen and chick succulents get?

These cute little succulents can average around 4-6 inches (10-15 cm) tall and 18-24 inches (46-61 cm) wide when fully mature.

Do hen and chick plants multiply?

Yes! They will multiply on their own if they can be grown in the right conditions. Their main requirement is lots and lots of sunlight and soil that provides adequate drainage. The soil alone will assist with accidental overwatering problems and provide adequate nutrients. 

How long do hen and chick plants last?

These succulent plants last around 3 years, depending on the seasonal conditions. A hen will produce a chick, and the chick will grow another chick after one season. They will then continue to grow for a further two years, making three in total.


Of all the succulents, hens and chicks are one of the cutest and easiest to take care of. One of the most common issues they succumb to is growing tall through etiolation.

Luckily, it’s not life threatening if it can be discovered and dealt with early. We hope that this article has been helpful when dealing with this problem.

We look forward to seeing you at the next one. Bye for now!

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