Succulents

Why Are My Succulents Dying? Here’s What You Need to Check

Is your Succulent dying? Read on to learn about the most common reasons why your succulent might be dying and how you can save it.
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Succulents are hardy plants that don’t need a lot of attention, which is why they have become extremely popular over the past few years.

If you have an interest in gardening or if you have an Instagram account and follow anything cute then you probably have at least a few adorable succulents. And we don’t blame you!

Some succulents like the Echeveria, Panda Plant, Burro’s Tail, or Jade Plant are so incredibly cute, that you just have to buy them and, although they usually do fine with just a little water and some light, sometimes they wilt, wither, turn yellow, or simply collapse.

We love the look of Echeveria Elegans

Luckily, every succulent problem has a solution. So, if you check your succulents regularly you might catch the problems early on and prevent them from dying.

Read on to learn about the most common reasons why your succulent might be dying and how to save it.

Where to Buy Succulents?

Here is our recommended online shops for purchasing succulents & supplies

  • Succulents Box

    Succulents Box currently offers more than 200 varieties of succulents (both popular and rare ones) along with 5 monthly subscription boxes.

    Visit Store
  • Leaf & Clay

    Leaf & Clay offer a range of hundreds of types of succulents along with subscription boxes, pots & macrame.

    Visit Store
  • Lula’s Garden

    Lula’s Garden offers a selection of succulent garden gift sets from small single succulents in pots to full succulent gardens.

    Visit Store
  • The Succulent Source

    The Succulent Source offers a huge selection of succulents, cactii and also gift sets and items for weddings.

    Visit Store
  • Planet Desert

    Planet Desert cater to succulent and cactii fans with a large range of plants, soil, kits and other supplies for creating your garden.

    Visit Store

1. Your succulent is getting too much water.

Overwatering is the quickest way to kill a succulent. Succulents are quite similar to cacti in that they don’t need a lot of water and can go for long periods without humidity. In fact, most succulents thrive in dry soil and love the sun, but are very sensitive to humidity.

If you just bought a new succulent, it’s normal to be a little overzealous and water it too much. We’ve all been there. But when it comes to succulents it is important to remember that more water doesn’t always mean more growth, so put the watering can down and be patient. It is safe to say that the most important aspect of succulent care is proper watering.

How can you tell if your succulents are getting too much water?

  • Puffy-looking leaves and stems and a general unhealthy aspect.
  • Discolored, yellow, translucent, or mushy leaves are also signs that your plants get too much water.
  • Overwatering can lead to root rot, which can cause the leaves to turn black.
  • The leaves of the succulent swell up and start to drop.

It’s easy to think that the plant needs more water simply because it doesn’t grow fast enough. In truth, too much water can kill the delicate roots of the succulent and halt the growth process.

What to do if you overwatered your succulent?

If you suspect that you’ve been overwatering your succulents, the first thing that you need to do is to allow the soil to dry out completely. If you notice that the soil stays damp for too long, check the drainage holes of the flower pot and make sure the water runs through.

When the leaves of the succulent become squishy and translucent the plant is full of water and leaves’ cell walls are damaged. You cannot save these leaves, but you can remove the healthy ones for propagation.

  • If your succulent is showing signs of rot (mushy, black, or unhealthy leaves and stems) make sure you amputate everything rotten.
  • Remove the rotten tissue of the succulent with a sharp knife dipped in alcohol. Repeat this process until you only see leaves and stems that are healthy and clean.
  • Make sure that the treated succulent gets good air circulation and a lot of bright light. When the wounds heal, it’s recommended to re-root the succulent using a high-quality well-draining soil mix.

This only works if the plant is not severely affected and you noticed the problem early on. So, to prevent overwatering your succulents, check the soil with your finger before watering them.

If the top layers (1-2 inches) are still damp, the succulents don’t need more water. When the plants are dormant (cold seasons) you should let the soil dry at least halfway down the pot. As a general rule, it’s better to underwater than to overwater because succulents can withstand drought more easily than dampness.

How to Water Succulents
How to Water Succulents: Complete Beginner’s Guide

2. Your succulent isn’t getting enough water.

Not watering a succulent enough is not as bad as overwatering it. A succulent that isn’t getting enough water is not in immediate danger, as it will immediately draw upon its stored moisture. Most succulents can withstand dry soil for up to 2 weeks without showing any signs of distress. But, lack of moisture can still affect the plant and cause its leaves to become wrinkled and shriveled.

How to tell if your succulent isn’t getting enough water?

  • The succulent will start to shed some of their leaves and excess branches to preserve their moisture.
  • Its bottom leaves and stems are wrinkled or completely dried up.
  • The succulent is droopy and wilted.
  • Dehydration will make the leaves feel deflated and soft.

What to do if your succulent isn’t getting enough water?

It’s really easy to solve the issue of underwatering a succulent by watering it more often. Dehydrated succulents can be fixed with a technique called ‘water therapy’ that consists of removing the plant from the pot and submerging its clean roots in water.

Throughout this process, the water should never touch the stems or the leaves. The roots should be left in water for a few days until the plant looks healthy and replenished.

3. Your succulent isn’t getting enough light.

Giving your plants natural light and emulating the growth conditions that they would get in their natural habitat can be quite difficult. This is especially true if you keep your plants indoors. A lot of succulents are native to tropical environments and need alternating periods of sun and shade.

How to tell if your succulent isn’t getting enough light?

  • The leaves of your succulent are growing too far apart. If you don’t know how to check this, search the internet for pictures with the same type of succulent to see how close together the leaves would normally grow.
  • Your succulent doesn’t grow new leaves. During the growth season, happy plants will grow new life. So, a plant that halted its growth process might not get enough light.
  • The plant stretches towards the light. Plants tend to seek light, so if your succulent is bending unusually, it might be a sign that it needs more natural light.
  • Aerial roots are another sign that your succulent isn’t getting enough light.

What to do if your succulent isn’t getting enough light?

A succulent plant that would naturally be exposed to 12 hours of bright sun daily won’t do well when placed on an east-facing window sill. A much better option would be to place the succulent near a south-facing window, which is usually the sunniest place in the house. So, you can easily fix this problem by moving the succulent to a brighter location.

If you don’t have a lot of light in your house, try choosing succulents that don’t need a lot of sunlight like the Aloe Vera, the Snake Plant, or the Schlumbergera.

How to Plant Succulents
How to Plant Succulents: Complete Guide

4. Your succulent doesn’t have the right type of soil.

Most plants come with a standard type of so mix, one that works best for pretty much any type of plant. But, the thing about succulents is that they have adapted to withstand the harshest environments on earth. So planting them in super fertile soil is not the best idea.

When you buy a new succulent, check the label and see if the soil is a succulent mix or a regular type of soil. It might be a good idea to ask around if these details are not on the label. If you can’t find this information anywhere, it’s recommended to change the soil once you get home. The best type of soil for succulents is a desert-dweller mix (a combination of potting soil and perlite, or other similar soil amendments).

How to tell if your succulent doesn’t have the right type of soil?

Standard potting soil holds too much water, so the first signs will be similar to those described in the overwatering section.

What to do if your succulent doesn’t have the right type of soil?

Repot your succulents. Succulents thrive in porous sandy soil that has good drainage properties. You can make your own succulent soil mix (example: 3 parts potting soil, 2 parts sand, 1 part perlite) or buy a premade one.

Hoffman Organic Cactus and Succulent Soil Mix is what we recommend

5. Your succulents are overcrowded

Most stores will sell a few tiny succulents packed in beautiful dishes. You probably noticed that in these ornamental arrangements the succulents are all crammed together. Unfortunately, some succulents need more space and won’t do well when overcrowded.

Additionally, overcrowded succulents are more susceptible to insect infestation and mold. While succulents don’t need a lot of food or water to grow, they still need some nutrients. So, overcrowding can lead to too much competition and, unfortunately, when you have different types of plants combined in a single pot, some of them will be weaker and will miss out.

How to tell if your succulents are overcrowded?

  • Some of them look unhealthy while others grow normally.
  • You notice mold or insect infestation.

What to do if your succulents are overcrowded?

Solving this problem is not difficult at all, especially if your succulents haven’t been severely damaged. All you have to do is to move them carefully into separate pots.

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Miruna Secuianu

Miruna is an experienced content writer with a passion for gardening. She is the proud owner of an outdoor rose garden and an indoor collection of tiny succulents. She bought her first succulent 10 years ago - an adorable Echeveria Setosa. Now she owns more than 100 succulents and cacti of different colors, shapes, and sizes. Miruna is a versatile writer and, as you might have guessed, her favorite topic is gardening. Contact miruna@gardenbeast.com

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