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.
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 holes. 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.
Lack of light might result in stunted growth. Without enough sunlight, plants deteriorate and can’t develop properly. The stems begin to sag, and there won’t be much new growth.
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. When moving your plant, observe how it responds and make any necessary adjustments.
Stunted growth can also result from nutrient deficiency. It could be time to re-pot or add fertilizers if your plant has been in the same pot for more than two years. 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.
Solution: Fertilize the plant or re-pot it in an appropriate, well-draining potting soil. 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.
A brown succulent—can you save it?
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.
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.