Succulent plants are renowned for their ability to thrive in arid environments by storing water in their leaves and stems. With proper care, these succulent plants can live for many years, developing unique shapes and textures as they age. This blog, we will delve into the captivating world of old succulent plants, often called "succulent trees."


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Why Succulents Grow Into Trees


While most succulent plants are low-lying, some have the potential to grow into tree-like structures. How does this transformation occur?

During the normal growth process of succulents, new leaves continuously emerge from the top of the stem. As the plant grows, the older leaves at the bottom gradually wither and fall off, exposing the bare stem. Over time, the exposed stem at the bottom elongates as the plant continues to grow taller. Click here to distinguish between the succulent tree and the succulent leggy.

With age, the stem undergoes lignification, turning woody. This natural process allows the stem to support the increasing weight of the plant as it grows taller. As the stem becomes stronger and more woody, it can bear more weight, enabling the plant to continue its upward growth.


In summary, succulent trees develop through the natural process of growth and lignification. As the plant grows taller, the elongated and woody stem at the bottom forms the trunk of the succulent tree.

How to Grow Succulents Into Trees


If you're interested in cultivating succulent trees, certain varieties are more likely to develop into old succulents. Here are some recommended varieties known for their ease of growth and the higher likelihood of forming succulent trees:

Once you have selected your desired succulents, here are some essential care tips to help them develop into old succulents:

Light Conditions


Succulents require plenty of bright, indirect sunlight to thrive. However, excessive direct sunlight can scorch their leaves. Ideally, they should receive 6-8 hours of bright, indirect sunlight daily. Click here to learn the most comprehensive succulent lighting guide.


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Succulents have adapted to survive in dry conditions and do not require frequent watering. Overwatering can harm them. Water your succulent plants only when the soil is completely dry. As a general rule, water them once every 1-2 weeks.


Occasional Fertilization


While succulents do not need frequent fertilization, a light feeding every few months can benefit their growth. Use a balanced, water-soluble fertilizer at half-strength.

Pruning and Shaping


As your succulent grows taller, occasional pruning may be necessary to encourage branching and prevent top-heaviness. Use sharp and clean shears to trim the top of the stem, prompting new growth. Repeat this process as needed to create a desirable branching structure.



Growing a succulent into an old succulent tree takes time. Significant growth and branching may take several years. However, with proper care, your patience will be rewarded with a beautiful and distinctive plant.

Common Problems


While maintaining old succulent trees can be rewarding, it's crucial to be aware of potential issues and their solutions. Here are some common problems you may encounter:

Shaping Succulents


Pruning and training the stems are effective methods if you wish to shape your succulent into a tree-like form. You can use stakes or ties to guide the direction of growth. Additionally, succulents can be trained to grow in specific shapes, such as cliff succulents. Hanging heavy objects on succulent stems can make them sag, gradually achieving the desired shape. Regular monitoring and adjustment of weight are necessary to avoid damaging the plant.


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Aerial Roots


If you notice aerial roots growing on the fleshy stems of old succulent trees, it may indicate insufficient water supply. Increase the amount and frequency of watering and consider misting the aerial roots to provide extra moisture.


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When repotting old succulents, it is essential to use a well-draining cactus soil mix and a planter pot with adequate drainage. Carefully remove the old plant from its current pot, gently eliminating any old soil from the roots. Trim any dead or damaged roots and place the plant in the new pot, adding fresh soil around the roots. Water sparingly after repotting to prevent overwatering. Click here to learn step-by-step instructions on how to repot succulents.


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Shriveling and Drying Stems


Shrinkage and drying of the fleshy stems in old succulent trees may indicate root problems. Inspect the roots for signs of rot or damage, removing any affected areas. Repot the succulent in fresh soil and water sparingly until signs of recovery appear. In some cases, cutting back the stem and allowing it to regrow from the base may be necessary.

Ornamental value


Old succulent trees hold significant ornamental value. Whether as cliff succulents or succulent bonsai, they can add a unique touch to gardens or indoor spaces.

Cliff succulents provide an excellent way to showcase the beauty of old succulents. By hanging heavy objects on succulent stems, the plants will sag, creating a stunning cascade of foliage. This technique can be applied to various succulent species like Sedum, Crassula, and Echeveria. Cliff succulents are perfect for gardens, balconies, or indoor spaces, requiring minimal maintenance.


Image Credit: @huayuqinghuan

Creating a succulent bonsai is another popular method to display old succulents. This involves planting the succulent in a shallow container and allowing it to develop a tree-like shape over time. Slow-growing succulent species like Jade Plant or Portulacaria afra are ideal for bonsai. With proper care and pruning, your succulent bonsai will become a beautiful and unique addition to your home or garden. Click here to learn how to make jade plant trunk thicker.


Image Credit: bonsaialchemist.com

Old succulent trees have a mature and attractive appearance that surpasses that of younger plants. They possess a sense of history and character, making them a perfect decoration to any collection. With their plump and striking appearance, they are bound to capture the attention of any visitor. Proper care and maintenance will make your old succulent trees the centerpiece of your garden or indoor space.

In conclusion


The ornamental value of old succulent trees cannot be underestimated. Whether cultivated as cliff succulents or succulent bonsai, these plants can add a distinctive touch to any space. They are beautiful, mature, and low-maintenance, making them an ideal addition to any succulent collection.

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