Sunburn or sun damage is the most frequent cause of brown leaves on succulent plants. When you observe brown spots on your plants’ leaves after moving them to a bright place or after a heatwave or other period of extreme heat, these patches are the equivalent of sunburn.
Brown spots from sunburn do not actually injure the plant, but they do leave a permanent mark on the leaves, which is unsightly but not harmful. The leaves will ultimately fall off as new growth appears, but these spots won’t fade away. More sensitive to sunlight than mature plants are little baby plants or newly produced plants.
If you notice that the plant is getting burnt, move it to a more shaded area or give it some shade. If you intend to leave your plant in a position that receives direct sunlight all day, acclimate it to the heat by gradually increasing its sun exposure. Remember that during a severe heatwave, even a mature plant that has become accustomed to full sun might still get burnt.
When a severe heatwave is predicted, move the plant or offer shade to avoid this from happening. Never leave young plants, plants without roots, or leaves that you are propagating outside in the direct light. Always give protection from the sun to prevent them from becoming completely cooked.
While solar damage is the most frequent cause of dark leaves on succulent plants, there are generally additional factors at play. While the majority of them may be resolved quickly and easily, some are trickier to resolve than others.
How can brown patches on succulents be removed?
Sun scalding, also known as succulent sunburn, results in a patch or huge burned regions. That damage is irreversible and cannot be repaired. The succulent (or cactus) can be in direct light after being indoors for a few months, although this is a common mistake made when moving plants from indoors to outdoors. It’s comparable to exposing your skin to the sun without protection. At that point, you should temporarily provide your plant with morning sun or indirect light to help it acclimate.
Insects like scale, which have brown patches on them, can also be treated with a cotton swab bathed in rubbing alcohol. Simply rub the scale insects off the plant using a brush.
Brown spots are a result of fungal decay. These typically result from an adverse side effect of over watering, which causes edema, or water retention, in the plant tissue. Pockmarks are brought on by cells exploding.
What causes the stains on my succulents?
Small aphids, larger snails, slugs, caterpillars, grasshoppers, and larger animals including mice, birds, possums, kangaroos, and deer are all pests that eat on succulents. Large animals will eat large chunks, while little insects and bugs will only leave minute scars on the stalk and leaf, which will eventually become brown or black as the plant recovers (like a scab on a human body).
The “scab” on a succulent is always there. The plant can only escape it by evolving from it.
Aphids, mealy bugs, and young slugs and snails are the worst pests for generating black or brown blotches on succulents.
Additionally, mealies and aphids produce a sap that can occasionally attach to the plants, aggravating the appearance. Even worse, they frequently conceal in the most delicate development (new leaves). They leave their mark on something that will grow larger and take longer to emerge by feeding on the new growth.
So what should you do if little parasites leave unsightly markings on your succulents? Unfortunately, it is almost certain that some of these little pests will eventually attack your succulents.
They invade quickly and have a huge geographic reach. The most crucial thing is to move quickly and avoid leaving them in the hopes that they will ultimately vanish. Delaying even a day or two will result in hundreds or even thousands of aphids and mealybugs waiting to hatch and attack your plants.
Sprays containing pyrethrum can easily kill aphids. If you see them on your plants and there aren’t many of them (they come in green, brown, black, and even orange), you may just squash them with a toothpick and wash them off.
Until you are certain that there are no more survivors, isolate the plant from the others. Pesticides may be required to control large infestations. We want to emphasize how harmful it is that a lot of pesticides can also kill a lot of helpful insects.
We must take all necessary measures to save beneficial insects because they are under danger. Humans will struggle to raise food without helpful insects and pollinators. Spraying after nightfall when the beneficial insects are no longer active can make a significant effect.
I normally isolate the plants in a shed at the nursery and spray there. Eco-neem or oil can be used, however thus far we haven’t had success using them when there are lots of aphids crawling around.
Mealy bugs are difficult to eradicate because they have a fuzzy covering to protect them and a tendency to develop chemical resistance. They are also experts at concealing; they can take up residence in the smallest of openings between leaves and stems, between curled-up, dried leaves, behind the lip of a pot, under a table, or underneath any other trash that can be discovered near their food source.
When the young nymphs hatch, they don’t have far to travel because they can lay their eggs (somewhere between 300 and 600) beside the plants but out of sight. Mealy bugs may move quickly and far in their early stages, which will cause them to colonize multiple plants.
Mealy bugs can be very difficult to manage. The best course of action is early identification and isolation. If your succulents are grown in pots, you need also maintain a clean plant space.
The best course of action when only one or two mealybugs are discovered is to squash them with a toothpick or thin skewer. Thorough inspection of the affected plant and any adjacent plants is required (pull leaves apart, take out of pot to make sure there are no mealy bugs on roots etc.).
Put the sick plant in isolation and keep an eye out for any other outbreaks for a few weeks. A 70 percent rubbing alcohol or isopropyl solution can be sprayed on mealy bugs if they have been discovered in large numbers and are difficult to reach or too numerous to kill.
It will be necessary to spray and then wash each mealy bug. We have used a lot of pesticides that claim to control mealy bugs, but they rarely work and are extremely hazardous to both you and other insects.
A 70% alcohol solution appears to work, but you may need to apply it more than once and keep an eye on it because even this is not 100% successful. Since most succulents are susceptible to mealy bugs, regular inspections and sanitation are essential if you have a nice collection of pricey plants.
Yet another Mealy Bug casualty. On this Sempervivum Oddity, the mealies were only recently slain by me. Where they fed is indicated by the black spots between the leaves.
Ants must be mentioned when discussing mealy bugs and aphids because they are frequently a direct outcome of these pests developing and flourishing.
Because these bugs create a sweet honeydew that ants collect, ants disseminate and “farm” these pests. Additionally, ants defend mealies, aphids, and various scale insects from predators including parasitic wasps and ladybugs. Here and here are two excellent pieces on ant behavior and its connection to pests.
However, the ant-pest interaction is destroying your (and our) plants. According to us, ants are also a pest and should be kept away from plants. This is more difficult than it sounds because ants usually manage to find a way in and may quickly infest pretty much any area of the garden.
Chemicals alone cause the workers’ deaths (and scores of other insects too). There are recipes for sugar and borax lures online that the ants are supposed to gather, bring to the nest, and feed the queen (who produces all these gazillions of eggs under ground).
With this or any other green approach, we have never been successful. The best course of action for us is to maintain a clean environment and treat any ants in our nursery area with a pyrethrum-based spray to keep others away.
Slugs and snails will eat succulent foliage, leaving behind tiny holes that heal into a sequence of dark colored markings. They can emerge at night and hide in small cracks, under pots, rocks, or moist, dark places, making them challenging to capture.
The green pest control methods are quite effective against slugs and snails. Our preferred method is burying a shallow dish of beer, which the slugs will happily drink to death.
A slug left these brown stains on the surface. He’s also been discovered hiding under the pot.
What does a succulent look like when it is overwatered?
How can you tell if your succulent is getting too much water? You can usually determine if a succulent is being overwatered or underwatered by looking for telltale indications. A plant that has received too much water will have soft, mushy leaves.
The leaves would either turn translucent in color or appear lighter than they would on a healthy plant. A succulent that had received too much water would frequently lose leaves readily, even when only lightly handled. Usually, the lowest leaves are the ones to suffer first.
The plant will look to be unhealthy overall. When this occurs, the plant is either being overwatered, sitting in the incorrect soil that does not dry out quickly enough, or both.
Your plants are being overwatered if you have been giving them regular waterings or if you have been following a watering schedule regardless of how the plant appears.
On the other hand, a succulent that has been submerged will have withered, wrinkled, and deflated-looking leaves. The leaves will appear thin and flat. The entire plant will appear withered and dry.
The leaves of a good succulent plant should be thick and solid, not mushy or desiccated.
To learn more about this subject, visit my post titled “How To Tell If Your Succulent is Over or Under Watered,” in which I go into great length about how you may determine whether your succulent plant is being over or under watered.
This String of Pearls ‘Senecio Rowleyanus’ plant leaf is one that has been overwatered. If a succulent’s water storage capacity has been exceeded, it may physically burst from overwatering.
Do I need to remove the brown succulent leaves?
There isn’t a set schedule for trimming succulent leaf edges. Every other season, you could trim your succulent’s leaves to allow it a chance to flourish, but it’s not necessary. The exact time will vary depending on the species of your plant, but it’s generally ideal to trim succulent leaves in the fall and spring, or during their active growing season.
Trimming and removing dead leaves is another smart notion from time to time. In most cases, a few dead leaves are not a symptom of a sick plant. This is due to the fact that succulent leaves naturally wither, but you can always remove or trim them if you don’t like the way they look.
How Do Dying Succulent Leaves Look?
How would you know which succulent leaves to remove if you don’t know what a dying succulent leaf looks like? The most typical symptom is discolouration brought by by excessive or insufficient watering. However, any of the signs listed below can indicate a dead or decaying leaf:
- leaves that are tan in spots due to sunlight
Overwatering or a plant disease may be indicated by opaque, brown, or black leaves.
The leaves may be discolored as well as mushy and soft to the touch. You can now remove the leaves and start your plants on a fresh watering schedule. Reduce your watering frequency and assess the situation.
On the other side, wilting and wrinkled succulent leaves are a sign of underwatering. After a good, thorough watering, the plant typically recovers within a few days. Even after a good watering, wilted or dried-out leaves can not recover. The leaves in this situation can be trimmed, removed, or they will ultimately fall off on their own.
How To Trim Your Succulent Leaves Correctly
Simply remove the leaves by pulling them out or cutting them off. Here is a safe method to trim and prune your succulents without harming your plant, if you’re seeking for a step-by-step approach. The following is required:
- clean, well-cut scissors or knives
To correctly remove the leaves, use the techniques described below:
Step 2: Remove the leaf from the plant’s base using the knife or scissors. Any branches covered with dead leaves can be cut off.
3. After use, clean the scissors or knife. If necessary, you can clean the knife or scissors with with simple water or an alcohol wipe.
Succulents can they get too much sun?
Although photosynthesis requires sunshine, certain plants might receive too much of it. While some succulents can be grown in full sun (defined as 6+ hours of direct sunshine each day), not all of them can, and some may even suffer from too much sunlight. Sunburned leaves will appear brown or black and could start to shrink or callus. Moving your plant to a location with less exposure or intense light is the best technique to treat sunburn on that plant. While untouched areas of the plant will continue to be in good health, sunburned leaves will never fully recover.
By observing other leaf symptoms, you can tell sunburn from rot. A plant that has recently been exposed to the light will still have big, thick leaves that have started to turn black or brown but may still be glossy. Older sunburns will be dry, shriveled, or even fully desiccated, and they will be black or brown in color. The appearance of rotted and overly wet leaves will be mushy and wrinkled.
If a plant at the store or one you own has sunburn, it probably wasn’t properly cared for and was exposed to too much light at some point rather than being sick and dying rapidly. Remember that burnt segments frequently shrink up, so even though the plant may not seem attractive, it may still be healthy and continue to grow for many years. The easiest approach to avoid purchasing plants with sunburns is to only purchase them from local, independent nurseries and vendors rather than big-box retailers, where this kind of damage is more likely to be visible.
These advice should aid you in identifying and treating any problems that may exist with your succulents. For you to always bring home a plant that can be your companion for years to come, we’ll be showing you things to avoid when shopping for plants and succulents in our upcoming post!