Overwatering and poorly draining soils are the main causes of succulent deaths. Succulents need the soil to dry out between waterings because they are drought-tolerant plants. Succulents get root rot in wet soil, which turns their leaves brown, black, or yellow and gives them a withering appearance.
While overwatering is the most frequent cause of dying succulents, there are several other potential causes as well:
Succulent plants typically die back when they are kept in environments that are drastically different from their native habitat.
Replicating some of the minimal rainfall, full or partial sun exposure, and stony, well-draining soil conditions will help revive dying succulents.
How can a dying succulent be revived?
Yes, I am aware that it seems illogical to remove extra water from the soil, but bear with me. This is the justification. Too much water has already put the succulent under stress, and exposure to sunlight makes matters worse. Direct sunlight is a big no because most succulents require brilliant indirect light.
Place the succulent that has been overwatered somewhere dry and bright, but out of direct sunshine.
2. Permit the roots to breathe.
Cut off any brown or black roots as they are already rotting. Dig the succulent out of the ground and remove any excess soil that has become stuck to the roots. Place the plant on a mesh or other strainer until the roots have had two to three days to air dry. Replant the roots in the pot once they have dried completely.
Remove the entire root system and any puckered, spotty, black, or brown stems if the roots are entirely rotted. The succulent stem can be buried in the ground for propagation.
Keep the overwatered succulent on a mesh screen or other strainer until the roots have had two to three days to air dry.
3. Modify the ground
You might not need to entirely alter your succulent if it is already rooted in homemade or commercial succulent soil. Algae (green living matter) typically grows on soil that is too wet. If so, it is your responsibility to remove all of the top soil from the area around your plants and replace it with new succulent soil.
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.
Can you revive succulents that are already dead?
No, in all sincerity. You cannot resurrect a succulent that has already passed away. However, it is possible to save a dying plant. Your plant may still be saveable as long as it is displaying signs of vitality. However, you should anticipate that the process will be difficult. Similar to humans, plants will be more difficult to resuscitate the closer they are to passing away.
Have you ever questioned your ability to revive a succulent in trouble? There are two things you need to decide before we proceed with the processes.
What Type of Succulents Do You Own?
Is it a desert or tropical succulent? You can identify the source of the issue by being familiar with your succulent and its particular requirements. It might also assist you in later deciding on the most effective revival strategies.
What’s the Cause of the Issue?
That’s the next thing you need to determine, the root reason. If you ever want to stop what is happening to your plant, fix it, and more importantly, prevent it from happening again in the future, you must have a thorough understanding of the problem.
The Most Common Causes of Succulent Death
Overwatering, excessive sunlight, neglect, abrupt temperature and weather changes, pests and illnesses, and neglect are typically the five main causes of succulent death. Let’s discuss each one in order to determine why your succulents are dying.
Overwatering is the most frequent reason for succulent deaths. Succulents require less water than other plants because, as was already established, they can withstand drought. Disease and root rot can result from overwatering your succulent.
Too Much Sun
They are drought-tolerant, but that doesn’t imply they enjoy to burn in the sun. Your succulents’ leaves may become scorched and even die if you expose them to too much sunshine.
Despite being robust and low-maintenance, your succulent plant still needs attention. Even the most hardy plants will perish if they are not given what they require.
Weather and Temperature Changes
Succulents dislike being left outside in the winter to freeze in addition to the potential harm that the summer sun’s heat can bring.
Saving Your Succulents
You can now proceed to the following phase, which is resolution, after determining the problem. What you may do to revive your wilting succulents is as follows:
- Consider repotting your succulent into a more well-draining medium and container if it is dying from overwatering.
- If your plant has sunburn, move it to a location where it can get bright but indirect light. Another effective way to safeguard a succulent from the winter cold is to relocate it.
- Other than giving your succulents better care, there is no cure for neglect. Giving your plants a good soak will help them recover, for instance, if you feel they are too thirsty and dry.
You can accomplish this by putting the plant’s pot in a larger container filled with a few inches of water. As soon as you notice the dirt beginning to get moist, let your succulents sit there for a time. To avoid drowning your plant, don’t soak it for an extended period of time.
- Finally, you may protect your succulents against pests and diseases by using a variety of treatments and organic formulas (some of which you can even make yourself).
How often should a dying succulent be watered?
Making sure your soil is entirely dry before rewatering is the greatest approach to prevent overwatering. As I’ve mentioned in several of my prior posts, most succulents can survive three days—and perhaps even a week—without water, so if in doubt, wait.
Start by reducing your watering schedule as soon as you see signs of overwatering on one of your plants. Additionally, you might want to use a pot with a drainage hole and switch to a better soil mix.
You’ll need to perform some minor surgery on your succulent if it has a black stem or patches. It’s lot simpler than it seems to do this! Simply remove the top of your plant, remove any black spots, and then propagate it in fresh soil after giving the cutting three to five days to dry out.
You can see how I removed every portion of the stem that was moist or discolored on the cuts below.
It’s worth waiting to see even though it’s unlikely that the original plant will survive! Leave the bottom area alone and wait till the soil is completely dry before watering it (all the way to the bottom of the pot). If you’re lucky, the plant may recover from the excessive watering after a few days of drying out and may even start to delay new growth.
You don’t want to risk harming the other succulents if the decaying succulent was part of a succulent arrangement. I advise pulling the rotting succulent out of the ground in this situation.
Do succulents require sunlight?
Depending on the type, succulents need six hours of sunlight each day because they are light-loving plants. You might need to gradually expose newly planted succulents to full sun exposure or give shade with a translucent screen because they can burn in direct sunshine.
How can overwatered succulents be fixed?
Step 1: Soak the plant in water completely and thoroughly (ensuring that the water will get to its roots).
Step 2: After giving the soil time to fully absorb the water, add more water. Continue doing this until water begins draining from the drainage hole in the pot.
Step 3: Be careful to let all the water drain out to avoid having them sit in moist soil.
After you’re finished, your succulent ought to appear and feel firm once more in only a few days. After about 3 to 4 days, if it still feels rubbery and wrinkled, just repeat steps 1 through 3 until they look and appear firm again. Then, you may continue your usual watering schedule.
In addition to the steps outlined above, you may want to think about utilizing the Water Therapy approach to aid your succulents in recovering from stress or damage, particularly if they are extremely dehydrated.
How can I tell if a succulent is about to die?
A succulent should be simple to care for. But there are a few things to know in order to maintain it healthy. How can you tell whether your succulent is prospering or dying, first?
Generally speaking, the following are typical signs that a succulent is perishing:
- The roots are rotting if the leaves are brown and mushy.
- Pale, yellow leaves are a sign of illness or rot that has spread.
- Dehydrated, wrinkled leaves indicate that the roots are drying up.
- Rot or infection was indicated by brown roots.
These are a few warning indications that your succulent may not be prospering. If you have one or more succulents and are worried that your plant is dying, continue reading to learn how to identify when your plant needs care.
What causes my succulent to dry up?
Due to its affinity for well-draining soils and occasional watering, overwatering is the most prevalent cause of succulent death.
However, if they are not hydrated properly or are planted in soil that has peat as one of their constituents, which can reject water when it is dry, succulents can still succumb to drought stress.
Succulents shrink when they are not watered frequently enough or are irrigated too lightly. Succulents require more frequent watering than other plants (every two weeks or so), so that water trickles from the bottom of the pot to keep the leaves from shriveling.
After a flood of rain, succulents retain moisture in their leaves and stems as a defense mechanism against droughts in their native harsh, arid habitats.
The succulent’s leaves should appear thick and robust when it is properly watered.
The succulent pulls from and depletes the moisture stores in the leaves and stems, causing the leaves to look thinner and the surface to shrivel as a result. This can happen if the succulent is not watered frequently enough or too lightly.
Because the moisture reserves serve as the plant’s structural support, the leaves and stems can also droop as a result of drought stress.
It is important to remember that some potting soils, especially those that contain peat moss, repel watering when they become dry. As a result, water runs off the soil’s surface and down the side of the pot rather than penetrating the soil and reaching the roots, leading to the symptoms of drought stress, including shriveled leaves.
Fortunately, saving succulents that are under stress from drought is far easier than saving succulents that are overwatered.
Leaves falling off
Why are your succulents losing leaves? Issues with watering are the most frequent cause. If the leaves receive too much moisture, they may expand, turn mushy, and eventually fall off. Overwatering causes leaves to drop off, which are soggy and mushy, and the stem may look puffy.
Solution: Delay watering until the top inch of soil feels completely dry. Make sure the potting soil drains adequately and that the plant doesn’t sit in water for an excessive amount of time. Repot the plant and replace the soil with one that drains effectively if the wrong potting mix was used.
Before transplanting and providing fresh water after repotting, give the plant some time to recoup and mend. When watering, allow extra water to drip out of the pot’s openings. If the pot doesn’t already have drainage holes, think about drilling some or changing your watering methods to avoid overwatering.
Extreme heat can also cause leaves to fall off. Succulents adapt by shedding their leaves during periods of extreme heat or drought to help conserve energy and retain their water supply. Even though this is a typical natural reaction, there are things you can take to lessen stress in your plant.
In the event of a heatwave or drought, move the plant to a more shady position away from the direct, full sun. Additionally, the plant might require more frequent watering under these circumstances. When the top inch of the soil seems dry to the touch or as needed, increase irrigation.
Watering problems might cause the leaves to become yellow. Both overwatering and underwatering might result in yellowing of the leaves. Pay attention to additional developments involving your plant.
The plant is being overwatered if it receives plenty of water and its leaves are yellowing, mushy, and bloated. The likelihood of the plant being underwatered increases if the leaves are yellowing, shriveling, and wilting and you are aware that you have not watered the plant in a while.
Adjust watering methods as needed. Reduce your watering frequency and wait until the soil is completely dry between applications if you think the plant is being overwatered. Water the plant more thoroughly if it’s being neglected. The majority of succulents appreciate regular watering until extra liquid leaks from the pot’s perforations. Do not rewater until the earth has dried out.
Lack of nutrients
Insufficient nutrients can cause leaves to turn yellow. The majority of commercial succulent potting soil contains compost or fertilizer in addition to the soil. For a long time, the plants can survive on those nutrients.
These nutrients eventually need to be brought back in because of the frequent watering that flushes them out of the soil. Repotting the plant in new potting soil or feeding the plant are two ways to supply nutrients.
Solution: Fertilize the plant or repot it in a good, well-draining potting mix. Use a fertilizer combination made especially for cacti and succulents or a well-balanced fertilizer made for houseplants.
Because they are not heavy feeders, cacti and succulents don’t need a lot of fertilizer. Reduce the recommended fertilizer dosage to 50% from what is stated on the container. During the growing season, feeding once every two weeks should be plenty.
Underwatering is the primary cause of withered leaves. The plant probably needs water if the leaves start to look withered and shriveled, which usually happens to the upper leaves of the plant first. If you have been lightly watering your plant and you see that the leaves are beginning to shrink, you likely have an underwatering issue that is readily fixed.
Solution: Give the plant more frequent and thorough waterings. Succulents require extra water during the growing season and during heat waves. When watering, allow water to drain from the holes and wait until the soil is dry before watering again.
The leaves may also shrink as a result of overwatering. However, excessive watering can cause leaves to seem limp, weak, and fall off rather than wilt and shrivel. The stem may also seem swollen.
These are images of plants that had been overwatered and had lost the majority or all of their leaves. The leaves had mold and were mushy and rotten. Also squishy are the stems.
Solution: Water less frequently and be sure to let the soil dry out between applications if you suspect overwatering. Before rewatering, the top inch of the soil must feel dry. Repot the plant in a well-draining potting soil if it is in the incorrect potting mix.
Before transplanting and watering the plant once again after repotting, let it dry out for a few days to give the plant time to recuperate and mend from overwatering. To check for moisture in the soil and the air, you can use tools like hygrometers and moisture meters. Please visit my resource page to see my suggested product list.
Brown Leaves or Dark Spots on Leaves
Sunburn or sun damage is the most frequent cause of brown or black blotches on the foliage of your succulents. The plant may experience this if it is exposed to unfiltered full sun or if it has just been transferred to a sunny site without having had time to acclimate. During extremely high heat waves or droughts, even plants accustomed to full sun may have brown leaves.
Solution: Move the plant to a more shaded area or offer more shade while it’s hot outside. To gradually acclimate a plant and prevent sun damage, gradually increase the amount and intensity of sunlight it receives over time before bringing it outside or to a sunnier place. To prevent burning, avoid placing young plants or plants that have recently been propagated in direct sunlight. Please visit my resource page if you would want product recommendations for shade cloths and outside sun protection for succulents.
Dead Lower Leaves
As the plant grows and develops new leaves from its core, the lower leaves inevitably wither and die. Dead leaves either fall off on their own or are readily plucked off.
To prevent insects and bugs from hiding in the soil, remove any dead leaves off the plant or pick up any dead leaves that have fallen into the ground.
Stems Stretching Out
If the plant doesn’t get enough light, the stems will sag or the entire plant will begin to etiolate. A plant’s natural response to darkness is called étiolation.
The plant’s stem and overall shape are extending towards the direction of the light source. The stem may appear to be extending, and the spacing between the leaves may appear to be widening. When in this condition, the plant’s growth is prone to being stunted.
Solution: Move your plant to a more sunny area. The greatest sunshine will enter a room through a south or east facing window. If you’re transferring your plant to an area with more sunlight, do so gradually to prevent sun damage.
Avoid any abrupt alterations that could startle your plant. For instance, avoid transferring the plant from a low-light environment indoors to direct sunlight outdoors right quickly. Increase the plant’s exposure to sunshine gradually in both quantity and quality.
A grow light is an excellent choice to provide more light for those inside regions that are difficult to access if you are unable to supply more sunlight for your indoor succulents. If you move your plant to a new area, use a grow light, or make any other changes, pay attention to how it responds. Adapt and modify as necessary.
The above-mentioned irrigation problems might cause leaves to grow malformed. Either too little or too much water is being given to the plant. If there is too little, the leaves begin to shrivel. If the leaves receive too much moisture, they become limp and droopy and may even wrinkle.
Lack of nutrients in your plants is another typical explanation. The potting mix your plant is in may no longer have enough nutrients for your plants if it has been in the same pot for more than two years or more. The leaves may start to seem deformed and occasionally turn yellow or discolored if this is the case.
The majority of commercial succulent potting soil contains compost or fertilizer in addition to the soil. For a long time, the plants can survive on those nutrients. These nutrients eventually need to be brought back in because of the frequent watering that flushes them out of the soil.
Lack of nutrients is causing these plants to struggle. Their leaves are wilting and changing color.
Solution: If you think your plant’s misshaped leaves may be the result of hydration problems, try adjusting your watering methods and monitoring how your plant reacts. A thorough watering will frequently resolve the issue without taking too long if the plant is drowning and its leaves are withered. The degree of the damage determines how your plant will respond when water is withheld if it has been overwatered. If not, you might need to replace the soil your plant is sitting in or there might already be root rot. The plant might recover rapidly.
If the plant needs more nutrients and has deformed leaves, either fertilize it or repot it in a suitable, well-draining potting mix. Repotting the plant in new potting soil or feeding the plant are two ways to supply nutrients. Use a fertilizer combination made especially for cacti and succulents or a well-balanced fertilizer made for houseplants.