Why Do Succulent Roots Dry Out?

Dry-out roots can be a glaring issue that can affect succulents. It’s always shocking when your gorgeous Esherveria or delicate Haworthia end up dying or snapping out from their pot!

Then, why could a succulent which is otherwise juicy and plump let its roots dry up when it has plenty of water in the other parts part of it?

Dry roots can be a sign of dehydration, excessive exposure to sunlight, as well as a rapid temperature shift. They can be restored to their hydrated state by water therapy or removed for an improved and new plant.

How to Tell if My Succulent Roots Are Drying Out

We do not have x-ray vision, which allows us to see below the soil, and therefore root issues can be difficult to spot. Here are some signs to look out for:

  • Leaves begin to dry out
  • Leaves fall off
  • Stems develop aerial roots
  • The succulent feels loose or is not properly anchored to the pot
  • The succulent snaps off near the base of the plant.

Why Are My Succulent Roots Drying Out?

Lack of Water Supply

The succulents all store water in their tissues in preparation for drought. Water is a significant portion of their structure and is essential to all succulents.

We’ve all heard about the water that is stored in succulent leaves But did you know the stems and roots do as well? Even the more spiky members from the same group like Haworthia and Sanseveria utilize their entire bodies to store water during dry periods.

If a succulent isn’t receiving sufficient water supply, the plant has to depend on the water it has already built up to perform effectively. This is why it was saved from the beginning!

There’s a drawback of this strategy. If the plant’s body is dehydrated the structure of the plant will be affected. In the case of the plant is dehydrated its leaves will begin to dry out initially, but its roots will soon dry out.

succulents in red green and orange pots

Heat Stress

Even if a succulent appears well-shaded, exposure to sunlight could cause heat stress however, a heatwave could dry out the plant’s root systems.

Even although the roots are suited to hot environments, they could continue to wilt when they aren’t able to adjust to temperature fluctuations.

We are accustomed to the climate in our area and succulents take time to adjust to changes in the weather. When the seasons change, the plants are usually alerted to be prepared for the changes in the climate. They have enough time to adjust to the change.

However the heatwave could arrive without warning, and your succulents could be affected in the absence of any preparations.

The same effect can be observed when you take a specimen that is kept in a controlled space outside. However, as with the previous example they’ve had no time to prepare, so the shock can be experienced from head to the toe.

Stones that are dark-colored, or other growing mediums may create heat stress on roots, which makes them more prone to wilting, and eventually death.

Additionally, dark materials such as pots and stones will rapidly heat up when placed in direct sunlight. The heat can quickly be absorbed by the soil, killing the roots.

It happens when succulents are allowed to grow in standard black plastic pots that a lot of nurseries utilize to grow their plants.

While the leaves of succulents will remain cool but the roots will be cooked and dried in the pot because of the rapid heating that the plastic.

Too Much Sun Exposure

It might seem odd to think that experts in dry weather are afflicted by too much sunshine, but it is.

In the first place, too much exposure to sunlight causes dehydration that damages the roots of the plant.

The roots can also dry out when there is an abrupt change in the level of light. Plants that are used to a dark environment will find the sudden light to become overwhelming.

The leaves are burned, then the roots mass dies. In the end, it’s too hot due to being for too long in the sun.

Poor Soil Mix

Succulents like a draining, fine, and sandy medium. But, if it is not mixed properly it could harm the roots.

A lot of pumice, perlite or other minerals that absorb water such as vermiculite, can drain water from the mixture and make it less efficient. The additions are crucial when you are prone to watering too much your plants.

If you think that your succulent gets less water often. In this situation, the fertilizers can be a sponge that take water away from the roots.

However mixing many stones and too many sand can cause issues. Sand compacts as the mix ages , and organic materials break down, creating an extremely hard, dense block.

The roots are crushed and makes it difficult for new ones to grow. They start to dry out because they are unable to longer pull water from the mix.

As well as becoming hydrophobic, the compacted material is also unable to soak up water. The water collects on top or is able to flow around the mass, instead of soaking into it. So succulents will not get all of it and they’ll dry from the roots up.

Can A Dried Out Succulent Be Revived?

It’s not a surprise that succulents are tough because they were designed to withstand drought conditions. They seem to not mind being a bit dehydrated. The succulents that are sent in the mail could have been intentionally dried out for the trip.

Certain growers intentionally remove their plant’s moisture by cutting off the root mass and re-starting a new one. It’s like pressing an switch to reset the plant and let it recharge itself.

How Do You Fix Dried Out Succulents?

Step 1: Assess the Damage

Take your plant out of its substrate with attention. A chopstick or other similar tool can be used to poke the roots to break up the soil. Dry roots tend to be brittle So take care when you poke them.

Step 2: Soak If Appropriate

When your root system is healthy, and sound You can apply water therapy to revive the roots. I’ve provided more details here however, in essence it’s as simple as placing the roots in a container of water that is clean. It is recommended to use this method when the entire succulent appears dried.

If the damage is not too severe If the damage is not severe, move on onto the next stage.

Step 3: Trim Away Dead Matter

The extent of the damage can be determined after your roots have rehydrated. It is possible to remove the roots that are still straight or flat following the water therapy.

If the whole mass is deteriorating it might be better to remove it all in one go. However, it is amazing to note that succulents can be able to regenerate entire root systems by starting from beginning to finish.

They can develop from a complete roseate stem as fast as they do start from just one leaf.

It is necessary to cut large plants into smaller rosettes, or stems after growing their roots. There’s a lot of work involved in the process of developing roots and it’s more comfortable for the plant when it has an encapsulated system that can help it. It is also a great moment to get rid of dead stems or leaves.

Step 4: Re-pot In Fresh Soil

The next step is to repot. step following replenishing the roots. Succulents require a substrate that has lots of sand and tiny pebbles that flow freely and do not hold much water.

Two parts of sand, two parts of high-quality potting mix and one piece of pumice stone pebbles or perlite are the main ingredients I use to make my succulents. Nutrition and drainage are guaranteed without the danger of soil that is compacted.

Based on the pot’s size I might also add a few rough river stones, to provide the mix an additional layer of appearance.

There’s no harm in making use of a top-quality commercial mix even if you do not have the time or space to create it. (Amazon offers these products on sale for sale at an affordable price; click here to check the prices currently)

When repotting a newly-propagated plant let the soil around its base become dry for several days. This assists the succulent to form the ‘callus’ that protects the plant from decay, and promotes the development in healthy root systems.

The clippings that have aerial roots are subject to this general rule of thumb. Plant succulents using roots however, wait until a callus begins to appear on any tissue that is exposed prior to placing them in.

The callous part of the succulent could be placed directly in your soil mix. The callus will grow when it is planted on top of the mix.

Step 5: Move to A Shady Spot

When your succulent is healing it’s more prone to dehydration and overheating. Set it in a shaded part of your garden to ensure it stays cool. It is recommended that the light is bright , but indirect.

After the roots have been healed, you can move your plant in a more sunny area. Based on the variety, succulents are most likely to enjoy the morning sun. Be sure to adjust them to the new environment.

Step 6: Water Lightly

Since the roots of infants are susceptible to fungal infections, you should make sure to water your succulent in a controlled manner while it grows. But, the new roots have less efficiency, which is why you should you should water them more often as they grow.

It’s not an easy balance to find to ensure that you pay more attention , while making use of less water. Be sure that the medium is dry between the waterings.

If the environment you are growing in is dry, smaller succulents could also benefit from misting their surroundings. This is particularly true when you’ve decided to grow individual leaves or tiny rosettes that are cut from the larger plant.

Step 7: Feed

Then make sure to fertilize your succulent when necessary to ensure that it gets the nutrients it needs to grow. In this case the case, a cactus or succulent fertilizer is the best choice.

It will give the right balance to the newly planted roots which will allow them to grow more robust than ever before. (Check for costs at Amazon right here)



Went from a bad gardener to a half-decent one over 10+ years. Super happy to share my tips and tricks with you :)