How to Revive Your Dying Succulent

Last Updated on December 8, 2022 by Stephanie

The reason succulents die is due to over-watering as well as slow drainage soils. They are adapted to dry conditions and need that the soil dry out between irrigation. When soil is damp, succulents suffer from root rot, which causes leaves to turn either black, brown or yellow with the appearance of dying.

While overwatering is the most frequent cause of dying succulent, there are a few other reasons why your succulent could be dying:

The majority of succulent plants die back when they live under conditions significantly different from the conditions of their natural habitat.

In order to revive dying succulents, it is essential to recreate the conditions of low rainfall, partial or full sun, and grittier well draining soils in order to keep the succulent alive.

Continue reading to learn how you can help save your dying succulent…

Succulent turning yellow, brown or black (Over watered)

  • Symptoms. Stems and leaves that are succulent turn to black, brown, yellow or even translucent, with a soft, mushy texture as well as an appearance of drooping.
  • Causes. The excessive watering of succulents, soils that drain too slow or hold excessive water, pots with no drainage holes in their base, saucers or pots with trays that block the water from draining properly, which could all lead to root stem and stem rot. Sunburn can cause succulents to become brown.

Succulents are drought-resistant plants which have been specifically designed to thrive in hot and dry, desert-like environments that have well-drained soils that receive frequent rain.

For succulents to thrive and to avoid the leaves becoming black, brown or yellow, it is essential to replicate the conditions in the succulents native habitat by placing them in a spongy and well-draining potting soil and generally watering them when your soil have been dried completely.

The excessive watering of succulents or putting the succulent in regular pots that hold water for too long could result in excessive moisture around the roots for desert plant to tolerate.

A lot of moisture in the root of your plant due to excessive watering can cause it to turn black, brown, yellow or translucent, with soft, tender leaves, which is a sign of stress in the water and could possibly indicate root decay.

The majority of succulents require that the soil dry out entirely around the roots prior to replenishing the water, which is similar to the typical watering cycle of their natural environment, with little or no rain, then dry spells.

It is also essential that succulents are planted in containers that have drainage holes at their bases so that excess water can be released to ensure that the soil around the roots isnt saturated and lead to root decay.

Trays, saucers and other containers can also stop the water from draining effectively and result in the soil at the bottom of the succulents pot to get sloppy and cause the leaves of succulents to change color from brown, yellow or black, and then die back from root decay.

How to Revive Dying Succulents Turning Yellow, Brown or Black

  • Reduce the amount of watering. If youre giving your succulent a bath more than every week, this is the reason why the leaves are turning brown or black, which is an indication of stress caused by excessive watering. Succulents should be watered only after they are in a soil that have been completely dried out. It usually takes 14 days, but it can differ depending on the weather, the size of the pot, and depending on how well the soil drains.
  • Refill the potting soil. Even if youre in the process of waiting for your succulents soil to dry out before watering it again the succulent could change color from brown, yellow and black, if your soil retains water for a long period of time as a sponge, rather than draining rapidly and holding as much water as it does in the native succulent environment. If your succulent was planted in a standard potting soil, take it out to replace with specially designed succulent and cacti soil (available at garden centers and on Amazon) that mimics the, coarse porous, well-draining soil characteristics of succulents native habitat and significantly decreases the chance for root rot.
  • Make sure to plant succulents in pots that have drainage holes at the base. They can be planted in a wide range of pots so long as theyve got holes in their base that allows excess water to drain away and stop water from over the roots, which can cause root rot. Clay or terracotta pots are the best choice as they possess an elongated structure that lets the soil in the pot to dry, and this is in line with succulents preference for dry soil conditions. Pots for succulents that are proportional to their size because larger pots have a greater capacity for soil, and consequently larger capacity to hold water, which slows down the rate of drying out the soil and increases the chance of the succulent becoming black, brown, or yellow.

To determine if the potting soil is dried around the roots of your succulent, you can feel the soil in the bottom of the pot via drain holes. If the soil is damp, you should delay watering the succulent by a couple of days. If the soil is dry, this is the ideal moment to water your succulent.

The act of watering your succulent after the soil is dry effectively replicates the natural conditions of frequent rainfall, and drought for which succulents have been specifically to adapt.

Make sure there arent any roots or soil that has become compacted that are blocking any drainage holes at the base of your pot If you are use trays or saucers underneath the pot, then you should take them off regularly, allowing the water to flow easily and the soil is able to dry between watering sessions.

After you have identified the root cause of the reason your succulent has begun to turn brown or yellow with soft, mushy texture (adjusted the frequency of watering and changed your soil) and followed the correct irrigation practices, then your succulent will begin to recover , even if the leaves appear brown or yellow provided you allow the soil to dry out.

The speed at which your succulent recovers is contingent on how long it has been under stress, however, it will show signs of revival in the next few weeks.

If the succulent seems to recover following the drying of soil, with less yellow/brown color and a more firm texture on the leaf, then you should re-water it after three weeks or so to make sure you dont go between extremes of excessively watering to sub-watering your succulent , which could cause the plant to wither and then die back.

Certain leaves on your succulent could become limp or even fall off, depending on the type (this is typical with jade succulents).

If there is a significant amount of brown or yellow leaves that are discolored, and not looking like theyre recuperating, then trim the leaves that are discolored back to the bottom of the plant using the help of a sterilized pair of pruners to lessen the stress on the succulentand prevent any spread of rot that aids in promoting recovery.

Save your succulents from Severe Root Rot…

If the brown, yellow or black discoloration on the stems or leaves of your succulent is getting worse, even after watering your succulent properly, and then replacing your soil using a well drainage, grittier pot mix The root rot could be the reason for your dying succulent.

If the succulent is suffering from root rot, its impossible to salvage the whole plant, but you can still harvest the cuttings of healthy tissue to propagate.

The majority of succulents can reproduce by dividing leaves or an unhealthy portion of the stem because this is one of the methods for reproduction in the natural environment of succulents.

Check out this YouTube tutorial to learn how you can easily propagate succulents using leaves and cuttings to create many additional plants for free:

Succulents Turning Brown Due to Sun Burn

While over-watering is the main reason for succulents to turn brown, sunburn can also cause the leaves to turn with a light brown or yellowish depending on the degree of sunburn.

Different succulents have different needs for light, with some aloe succulents flourishing in full sunlight, whereas other succulents require bright indirect light and can easily burn in direct sunlight (such such as snake plant).

But all succulents are susceptible to sunburn if relocated from a shady place to an area with full sun , as succulents require time to adjust to various lighting intensities.

It is therefore essential to determine the requirements for light of the particular variety of succulent If you decide to relocate the succulent to a more sunny location, slowly over two weeks, and expose the succulent to sun more often every day.

Through gradual exposure to increased sunlight, your succulent will have time to adjust to the higher brightness without burning.


If your succulent was burned in the sun and has turned to into a scorched brown, then you should relocate it to an area with bright indirect lighting for the moment.

Sunburned areas that are severely sun damaged succulents are often not able to recover in appearance, but this doesnt necessarily mean that the plant is dying, as the are unlikely to get worse in its condition so long as it is moved out of the sun.

Succulents may have sun-burned leaves, but it is recommended to get rid of the leaves affected to avoid aesthetic issues.

Remove any burned section of leaves using a sterilized pair of pruners , preferably below the yellow or brown areas. Ideally, cut the leaves back to the base to the base. This encourages the development of new leaves to replace them.

If your succulent is extremely sunburned, the best method to bring it back to life is to search for cuttings and leaves that are on the shaded side of the plant that can be propagated and grow further plants by propagation in better light levels to satisfy the specific succulents needs for sunlight.

Dying Succulent Losing Leaves

  • Symptoms. Succulents drop leaves by themselves or after small bumps. Leaves may fall off, despite having a healthy green color, or the leaves can turn a bit transparent, brown, or yellow.
  • Causes. The dropping of leaves that are suculent are a sign of excessive irrigation, soils that hold excessive moisture, or dishes and saucers that prevent water from being able to escape out of the pot.

For certain succulents, particularly jade-related species like ( Crassula ovata), as well as Gollum Jade the loss of leaves can be an indication of the plant being stressed due to the fact that the soil around the roots is not moist enough.

Overly frequent watering, moisture retention soils, and pots with no good drainage could result in a succulent losing its leaves.

Succulents thrive in a sandy well-draining soils that dont retain much moisture around their roots in their natural habitat and have evolved to withstand drought.

So succulents are not tolerant of humid conditions and are prone to excessive watering.

A succulent that has lost leaves will let you know that you should reduce the frequency of watering to avoid more serious issues like root rot, which is the most frequent reason for dying succulents.

Most succulents can be saved if you alter the conditions of their growth to mimic the cycle of watering in their natural environment.

(Read my article on on how frequently to water your succulents for tips on how to water your succulents at various seasons and under different conditions).

How to Resurrect an Succulent that has lost Leaves

  • Reduce the frequency with which you are watering your succulent. If youre watering your succulents more than once per week, this could be the reason why its dropping leaves. Make sure to water your succulents with an adequate soak, and allow your soil to completely dry out before watering it again. Typically, watering them at least every 2 weeks would be the best. Check the soil at the bottom of the pot by the drainage hole at the base. If it feels damp, it is best to delay watering. If the soil been dry for a while, it is the ideal moment to water.
  • The succulent you plant is draining soil that is spongy and grit. The typical potting soil holds too much moisture for succulents that are drought-resistant to endure. Replace the soil using a special succulent and Cacti soil (available at garden centers and on Amazon) that is designed to mimic the succulents preferred soil type that has excellent drainage and a lightly air-aerated structure.
  • Clean out trays and saucers regularly to ensure that excess water is able to be drained away from the roots of the succulents. They are not able to tolerate water-logged soil since it creates the conditions that cause root rot, which causes succulents to shed their leaves (or the leaves change color from yellow to or brown, or even black) and the succulent then dies.

Give your succulent two weeks for the soil to dry, and make sure that the plants soil is completely dry (by touching the soil with your finger through the drainage hole at the base to ensure that the soils dryness) prior to watering again.

After you have altered the conditions by using more porous succulents and cacti soil, and you are watering the succulent with the appropriate frequency, the succulent will cease losing leaves and begin to grow back.

But, if the succulent was left in soil that is saturated for a long period of time, it is more susceptible to root rot, and the plant will likely be unable to reproduce.

Succulent Leaves Shriveling, Wilting or Wrinkled

  • Symptoms. Leaves look wrinkled, thin or shriveled, usually with droopy appearance.
  • Causes. Stress from drought due to not watering the plant regularly enough, watering the plant too thinly or the soil creates water vapor on the surface, only to penetrate and reach the roots or the high temperatures indoors caused by artificial heat.

The majority of the time, the reason why a succulent dies is due to excessive watering since succulents are sensitive to excessive moisture around their roots and are more able to withstand drought.

However , succulents may still experience drought stress if theyre not regularly watered or if they are watered in a way that is too light or are located in a hot climate (whether outdoors or indoors) that causes the loss of water from the leaves and also evaporation from the soil.

Another reason why succulents may be experiencing drought stress is that the potting soil is baked hard, causing water to flow across the surface of the soil, without properly infiltrating and reaching the roots , which results in the leaves to shrink and appear thinner or shrink according to the type of succulent.

The stress of drought can cause succulent leaves to shrink wrinkle, wrinkle, wilt, and drop (depending upon the species)but leaves may be noticeably thinner, or even curled inwards, which is typical in aloe plants (read the article to learn more about aloe plants that have leaves that curl inwards).

This is due to succulents sucking away water from soil and later store it in their fleshy, thick leaves roots, tubers and roots.

When properly hydrated, the succulent leaves are solid and full of. When there is drought, the succulent will then use the water kept in the leaves to help to withstand drought in areas that have a low frequency of rainfall.

If the succulent draws on the water reserves contained in leaves, they will eventually become less slender and the surface may be wrinkled. The leaves may also lose their shape as the water also provides structural support for the succulent.

While succulents dont need to be watered as frequently as other plants, they require a good soak every time you water.

If you water your succulent too light, just the upper inch the soil is moist, and the water doesnt reach the root at the point where it is needed, and can cause of stress due to drought, resulting in a succulent that has shriveled.

Succulents need to be watered every two weeks after their potting soil is dried up around the roots to prevent root rot. However, it is important to ensure that the succulent is hydrated enough to keep the leaves firm and plump, not shrinking.

(Read my posts on watering jade, aloe vera, plants, and snake plants to learn all the best methods of irrigation for succulents).

Fortunately , its not difficult to revive dying succulents with wrinkled leaves because of under watering since they are capable of coping with drought stress more effectively than over-watering…

How to revive Succulents using leaves that are wrinkled and shriveling

  • Put the plant in a pot of water for about 10 minutes or at least. While succulents dont need to be watered as frequently like other types of plants, they do best when their soil has received a thorough soak and then let it dry before replenishing the water. The placing of the drought-stricken succulent in a water basin lets the moisture needed to get into the root and also ensures that the soil is equally damp. This is particularly important when the surface of your potters mix is hard and suffocates water from the surface instead of allowing it to get to the roots. Remove the succulent from the water within 10 mins, and let the water be drained from drain holes.
  • Give your soil a good soak. The succulents must be watered with an ample amount of water in order that any excess water drips off the bottom of the plant. This will ensure that the soil remains evenly moist, so that the roots of the succulents can absorb the water they need to replenish the water reserves within the leaves, allowing them to get back to their original appearance after a shriveled.
  • Increase the frequency of watering succulents (if required). While succulents can withstand dry conditions, they require regular irrigation to avoid the leaves becoming wrinkled or falling. It is recommended to give succulents a bath every two weeks, with a deep soak to ensure that the leaves keep their plump, healthy appearance. But you must wait until the soil has begun to dry out before you water again in order to prevent root decay.
  • To determine when your succulent requires watering, you can feel your fingers through the hole for drainage at the bottom of your pot. You can feel the soil with your fingers every two days after watering to gauge the time it takes it to completely dry out. If the soil is dry around the base of your pot that is the ideal moment to water. The method for watering succulents mimics the drought cycle, which is followed by the cycle of rainfall that soil moisture, which succulents have used to in their natural habitat.
  • Refill the soil with potting mix if water is leaking across the top. The soil in potting that is peat tends to bake hard after drying out, and causes water to flow across the top. Succulents require an open, porous soil structure that permits water to penetrate even after it is dry and encourages drainage that is good to avoid root decay. Refill your potting soil with specially-formulated succulent and Cacti soil (available at garden centers or on Amazon) that is designed to mimic the well-draining soil characteristics of succulents native habitat.
  • Make sure your succulent isnt close to any indoor sources of heat. A lot of heat in the evenings due to fires, forced air or radiators can cause the succulent to dry out quickly, causing the leaves to shrink. They thrive at temperatures of 55-80 degrees F (13degC-27degC) so long as they arent directly in the direction of the heating source.

Typically, with two or three cycles of watering (allowing for the soil time to dry out before re-watering) the succulent will be showing signs of recovery, with more lush leaves, less the appearance of drooping, and less of a look that is shriveled.

Succulent Growing Taller with leaves dying at the bottom

  • Symptoms. The leaves of succulents at the bottom of the plant becoming brown, crisp and with an appearance that is dying. The succulent can also get taller and look leggy, with its drooping leaves.
  • Causes. Insufficient sunshine causes succulents become in a sluggish manner and lose their lower leaves. Lower leaves of succulents also die and grow new leaves.

The leaves of succulents die at the bottom due to is not enough sun. When the plant is shaded, it will redirect energy to the younger leaves that are taller to seek more light. The leaves at the bottom become dry and crisp with the appearance of dying.

Sometimes, individual leaves may become large and weak when they grow in the direction of the strongest sunlight that can cause them to drop due to their own weight (this is typical of aloe vera plants that are in excessive shade).

Different types of succulents have different requirements for sun exposure, with aloe plants requiring more sun because they can withstand full sun. There are also succulents like string of pearls require intense indirect light or can burn, so it is crucial to know the amount of light your particular succulent requires.

If succulents are in the right light conditions, they remain small and maintain a more compact shape since they dont require a taller growth and are looking to get more sunlight.

If your succulent doesnt appear to be in a state of lethargy or drooping, and leaves are dying at the base of the plant, it is part of the natural cycle of growth or development for succulents. The dying leaves on the base of your plant are usually completely normal and are not a sign it is dying in general.

How to Resurrect Succulents using leaves dying at the bottom

  • For reviving tall succulents that have lower leaves that are dying, make sure that the plant is the right place with adequate sunlight. Succulents require either direct light that is bright (such as pearls or string and snakes) or 4 to 6 hours of sunlight (such jade and aloe plants) to stay compact and avoid leggy growth.
  • Introduce your plant to gradually more sunlight because a sudden change between shade and full sun could cause succulents to get burned. Transfer the succulents to a brighter or sunnier spot for a half-hour or more each day for several weeks, to allow the succulent to adjust to the higher levels of sunlight.
  • If the plants growth has fallen over it can be difficult to restore the succulent back to its original shape and shape. In this case, cutting off stems or leaves to propagate or propagating offshoots, and even to create new plants is typically the only option to preserve the appearance of the succulent (all succulents can be propagated easily).
  • The dying or dry leaves that are at the base of the succulent will not cause harm to the plant, but they should be removed in order to keep the succulent looking healthy. Carefully twist dead, brown leaves using your hands or with a pair of tweezers. If the leaves arent easily removed, put them in place for about a month and then try again instead of trying to remove them.

Succulent Dying due to cold

  • Symptoms. Succulents may turn brown or black, depending on the soft, mushy texture on the leaves. However, symptoms may vary based upon the extent of the damage caused by cold.
  • Causes. Most succulents are native to hot climates and typically suffer in temperatures lower then 50degF (10degC) and can die in frost, although some succulent plants can tolerate a light frost but this is rare.

Most succulent varieties are not cold hardy and die if they are exposed to temperatures lower then 50degF (10degC) for a long periods of time.

The majority of succulents grow easily at ambient temperatures, with a temperature range of 55degF to 80degF (13degC-27degC) which is thought to be the ideal aloe vera temperature range.

When succulents are exposed to frigid temperatures, or even frost, the stems and leaves can become mushy with a the appearance of black or brown.

The damage is usually more common on younger leaves of succulents.

How to Revive Cold Damaged Succulents

Find your succulent in an area in your garden or home that is always between 55degF and 80degF (13degC-27degC) and make sure that the leaves are directly in contact with windows since they could be significantly cooler than the rest of your house and reduce the amount of irrigation for the moment.

When the succulent is placed in a more stable and stable environment, the damage from cold should not necessarily be any more severe.

When the plants leaves seem like they are mushy, wait for a few days, or even weeks, and the mushy damaged area of the succulent will dry up and develop a callus.

When the mushy portion of the leaf is dried Cut the leaf back down to the damaged area as parts that are damaged by cold succulent are not able to recover, however the plant in its entirety is able to recover.

It is recommended to begin watering the succulent after you notice that the callus of the leaf cut has healed to avoid any other problems that could arise since cold damage may increase the likelihood for root rot.

It takes a lot of patience however, the succulent will eventually develop new leaves and begin to get back to normal after the cold-related damage.

Key Takeaways:

  • The reason why a succulent dies is usually due to root rot caused by overwatering or slow drainage soils. Succulents are drought-resistant plants that need the soil to dry out between irrigation. The brown, yellow or black soft leaves suggest that they are dying due to the soil is not dry enough.
  • The leaves of succulents change color due to excessive watering or sunburn. The presence of mushy, brown-colored succulents indicate that there is too much water around the root. The brown leaves of succulents with an appearance that is scorched could be due to sunburn caused by a sudden rise in the intensity of the suns rays.
  • The leaves of succulents turn yellow as a result excessive moisture in the roots, caused by frequent watering, moist soils or pots with no drain holes at the bottom. The soil must dry between the watering. Leaves that appear soft and yellow could indicate root rot due to over-watering.
  • Succulents can grow large and ungainly if theyre in a shade that is too intense. The majority of succulents require indirect, bright light or full sun. Therefore, the leaves of succulents grow taller in the direction of the strongest light. The leaves of tall succulents are usually less sturdy and may fall over under the weight of their own and die at their base.
  • The reason that the leaves of succulents to shrink is because of stress caused by drought due to excessive watering or overwatering light. The succulents store water in their leaves to aid in way to survive. If your succulent is not water, it draws upon the water reserves stored in the leaves, which results in the appearance of shriveling.
  • For reviving dying succulents, recreate the conditions of their natural habitat using well-draining, grit soil, that has the appropriate amount of sunlight for your succulent, and water once the soil has dried out. Cut off healthy portions of the succulent to propagate to help save the succulent.


Went from an inexperienced gardener to a half-decent one over 10+ years. I cover anything from general indoor plant guides and lawn care, to succulents and flowers. Super happy to share my tips and tricks with you :)