Why is My Succulent Dying? (6 Solutions that Actually Work)

Last Updated on November 24, 2022 by admin

The reason succulents die usually is due to root rot that is caused by excessive watering and moist soils. The succulents should only watered after the soil is dry. If the succulent is growing in constant moisture, the leaves begin to turn black, brown or yellow and then die from root rot.

The succulent also gets a little watered, which causes it to shrink and sometimes the leaves drop off. There are a few more reasons your succulent may have died…

The most frequent causes of a dying succulent:

  1. Root rot is caused by overwatering and soils that are too moist (Leaves becoming brown, black, yellow, with a mushy texture occasionally with a drooping look).
  2. Stress from drought caused due to watering too sparsely or not watering enough to suit your climate (leaves become wrinkled and have the appearance of wilting, and certain leaves can become brown and crisp).
  3. Succulents die after transplanting (transplant shock ) and placing succulents with the incorrect soil type , causing the root to rot).
  4. Succulents turn brown or yellowish because of sunburn or overwatering (some succulents require indirect sunlight and may be burned in direct sunshine).
  5. Succulents die from the bottom upwards (potentially due to the absence of sunlight or excessive moisture, or the succulent itself sheds the lower leaf).
  6. Succulents dying due to cold temperatures (a majority of succulents arent cold-hardy and may die in temperatures that are colder than 50 degF (10degC) as well as frost).

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

Succulent Dying of Root Rot (Overwatering)

The reason for dying succulent usually is due to excessive watering or soils that hold excessive water. Succulents are drought-resistant plants that require soil to dry out between watering. If the soil is humid, succulents will change color from yellow to brown to black, and then die from root rot.

Succulents are drought-tolerant plants which have evolved to live in a sandy, well-drained earth ( often growing on steep hillsides) with frequent rainfall and high temperatures in their natural environment. They thrive in harsh conditions, where other plants struggle to live.

Because of their preference for dry environments succulents are not tolerant of excessive watering or soils that remain damp for long periods of time because they create the conditions for root rot, which can cause the plant to die again.

When it comes to caring for a succulent in the your home or in the garden, the most frequent mistakes:

  • Do you water your succulent too often? is a sign of…..
  • Plant the succulent in regular pots (rather then in a special succulent or Cacti soil) that holds excessive water.

Even if you follow the most effective practices for giving succulents a good watering every two weeks, succulent leaves may still change color from black to brown and develop root rot if the soil remains wet too long after the watering.

Succulents require specially-formulated succulent and cacti soil that mimics the well-draining, grity soil that is their natural habitat and greatly reduces the chance from root rot.

The first indications of stress that indicate that a succulent has been overwatered include:

  • The leaves or stems turn brown, yellow, transparent or black.
  • Certain succulents, like jade plant, frequently shed their leaves due to excessive watering.
  • A look that is wilting or droopy.
  • The leaves of succulents that have been overwatered are prone to burst and appear slightly wrinkled.
  • The leaves are soft and mushy , rather than an incredibly lush and healthy.

If you water your succulents more than once a week, then youre overwatering, and that is the reason of your succulent dying.

For succulents to thrive and avoid root rot, its essential to mimic the conditions that grow in the succulents natural habitat. This requires the right soil that drains well and to keep your succulent watered with regular watering every two weeks or so.

The generous watering of succulents mimics the watering cycle that succulents typically encounter in their natural environment. This is characterized by an avalanche of rain then a time of drought to ensure that the plant remains well.

(Read the article How often to water succulents to learn the best time to need to water your succulents in order for them to remain healthy and prevent the root-rot).

Save Succulents Dying of Root Rot From Overwatering

If your succulent displays any of the signs of stress or root rot due to overwatering, the first step is…

  • Reduce the frequency at which you water the succulent plant, and allow that soil surrounding the roots of the succulents dry completely. The succulents should be watered only in the event that the root area is completely dry. Typically, watering them once every two weeks is sufficient needs for water and replicates their natural cycle of watering.
  • The most effective method to determine the frequency of watering the succulents is to touch the soil near the bottom of your pot. If it is wet, put off watering for a few days. If it is dry,, it is time to give it a good soak to ensure it is equally damp.
  • Plant your succulent in a well-drained succulent and cacti soil that is particularly porous, permits adequate drainage and mimics the typical conditions of soil in a succulents natural surroundings.
  • Plant succulents in pots that have drainage holes at the bottom. Also, empty trays, saucers and other containers that are adorned with excess water frequently to ensure that the plant isnt in stagnant water. Trays and saucers are great to stop water from spilling into the home, but make sure that the water does not collect around the succulents roots to allow the soil to drain correctly to avoid root decay.

Succulents will likely die if placed in regular pots due to the amount of time it remains damp, so I need to reiterate the importance of succulents and cacti soils to prevent root rot.

If you use the correct potting soil and awaited until the soil has begun to dry before watering it again The succulent will begin showing signs of healing with the discoloration of leaves shrinking, and then returning to its healthier green appearance.

If the leaves keep turning black, brown or yellow and the mushy portion of the leaves are growing then the rot could cause the succulent to die and it is necessary to take more drastic measures to keep the succulent alive.

In this case, the only option to keep the succulent alive is to do some shrewd pruning of the affected parts of the plant, and also cutting off leaves and stems of any healthy tissue that remains to allow for the proliferation.

Growing succulents is extremely simple because this is one of the main methods used by succulents for reproduction in their natural environment. Check out this YouTube video below to find out the best ways to reproduce succulents:

Succulents Dying From Underwatering (Drooping, Shriveled Leaves)

The most frequent reason why a succulent dies is due to excessive watering because they prefer well-draining soils and frequent irrigation.

But succulents are still able to suffer from drought stress if not watered in the correct method or if they are planted in soil with peat, one of the components that can suffocate water when its dry.

The reason succulents shrink is due to the fact that the succulent isnt watered enough often or is watered in a way that is too light. They require a deep irrigation, not an occasional irrigation (around every two weeks) to ensure that water drips down from the bottom of the pot, preventing the leaves of succulents from shrinking.

Succulents store water in their stems and leaves following a flood of rain as a way of surviving in drought-prone times in their natural dry, dry habitats.

If the succulent is properly watered, the leaves will appear healthy and plump.


When the plant is not regularly watered or is excessively, the succulent draws on and uses up the water reserves within the stems and leaves that cause the leaves to appear thinner and the surface to shrink in the process.

The stems and leaves can also lose their shape due to drought stress , as the moisture reserves provide structural support for the plant.

It is crucial to remember that some potting soils resist watering after drying out (in particular, potting soils that include peat moss) to ensure that water flows across the surface of the soil and then down the sides of the pot, without infiltrating the soil and reaching the roots, which can cause signs of drought stress, such as shrinking leaves.

Fortunately , saving succulents suffering from drought stress is much easier than saving succulents that have been overwatered…

Save Dying Underwatered Succulents

  1. Put the succulent that has been submerged in a water basin for about 10 minutes, making sure that your root ball remains completely submerged. This lets water penetrate the soil and reach the roots exactly where it is needed. Take the plant from the container after about 10 minutes or so, and allow the excess water to drain through the drainage holes at the bottom of the container.
  2. Make sure that the soil has dried out (usually about two weeks) before you water it again and ensuring it receives an extremely thorough watering to ensure that it is completely wet.
  3. It is recommended to water your succulent every two weeks, on average. It is essential to make sure that the soil is dry between watering sessions because succulents do not like soil that is damp (which can cause roots rot).
  4. 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 by using your fingers every two days after watering to determine the time it takes it to completely dry out. If the soil is dry at the bottom of your pot it is the ideal moment to water according to your climate and in accordance with the conditions you have. The method for watering succulents is similar to the dryness, followed by the rain cycles of soil moisture to which succulents adapt to their natural habitat.
  5. If you see water flowing across the surface of the soil, and then down the sides of the pot instead of getting soaked in, then you should change the soil to succulent and Cacti soil. The specially formulated succulent and cacti soils have an open, porous structure that encourages drainage to ensure that water can penetrate effectively and reach the roots , so your succulent gets the water it needs to remain healthy (available from garden centers and through Amazon).
  6. Make sure that the succulent isnt close to a source of heat, like a radiator, or within the direct stream of air currents that could draw moisture away off the foliage and dry out the soil too fast. Succulents thrive at room temperatures, with the majority of species preferring temperatures between 55degF and 80degF (13degC-27degC) therefore, it is best to keep them in an area where temperature stays fairly constant instead of fluctuating dramatically due to heating in the indoors.

After 2 or three watering cycles, the succulent leaves will recover from stress caused by drought with healthy, plump appearance to its leaves, as the water stores are replenished, as long as you keep watering regularly and thoroughly.

The leaves of succulents should be firm and appear smooth (rather than shrunk) in the event that its properly well hydrated.

If your succulent has been suffering from in drought for a long time, it can be difficult to save.

Succulent Dying following Repotting

The reason why your succulent is dying following repotting is due to transplant shock. When succulents are repotted , the contrast of their soils medium the moisture levels and light conditions may cause the succulent to shrink and change color to yellow, brown or black, and then fade back because of the stress from a different climate.

They are adaptable and can develop a tolerance to a certain kind of environment and, therefore, when they are relocated or repotted to a new location abruptly they can show symptoms of stress.

It is crucial to remember it is possible that the pot itself could have a significant effect on your succulent after repotting , for two reasons:

  1. If youve moved your succulent into a bigger pot, the amount of soil moisture is most likely to fluctuate dramatically, even though youre watering in at the exact same rate. The reason for this is that larger pots have a higher capacity for soil that holds more moisture and dry out more quickly than smaller pots. This means that the soil will remain damp around the succulents roots for longer than it is used to, which could create conditions that cause root rot and could be the reason for the dying of your succulent.
  2. The material used in the pot will influence how fast the soil is dried. Pots made from clay are porous, allowing moisture to dry out the soil faster, while plastic pots can hold more moisture than the succulents are used to, and may cause conditions that cause root decay.

The most frequent reason for succulents to die after repotting is that the plant is placed in the wrong type of soil.

Succulents can be found in a sandy soil which drain quickly and dont retain the moisture.

The typical potting soil holds excessive moisture for succulents , causing leaves to turn brown, yellow, or black, with a soft muggy texture, or the leaves begin to drop (symptoms may vary depending on the species of succulent).

The Solutions ….

The trick is to change the soil of your succulent in specially designed pots for succulents and Cacti.

A specialized potting mix can help to recreate the soil type that succulents prefer in their natural habitat. This greatly reduces the chance of root rot and could aid in reviving your succulent.

Make sure you use the pot that is in proportion to the dimensions of your succulent. For instance, when you are repotting, change the pot size instead of using a pot that is too large as it could hold water in soil over a long period, leading to root decay.

The steps for saving the dying succulent after repotting are exactly the same for salvaging a succulent that has been overwatered (which is explained in the article above) because the issue is excessive water around the roots, therefore, reduce the amount of irrigation of your plant and let the soil dry out completely while it is experiencing signs of stress and the plant may begin to recover.

(To find out more about how to save succulents from root rot, check out my article How to Resurrect the Succulent Plant that is Dying).

Dying Succulent Turning Brown

The reason succulents become brown is due to overwatering or sunburn. The brown leaves are a sign of stress because there is excessive moisture around the roots due to excessive watering or slow drainage of soils. Succulents can also become brown because of sunburn when they are transferred from shade to bright sunlight without enough time to adjust.

When your leaves of succulents are turning brown and have a soft mushy texture it could be that excessive watering or soils that are damp is the reason (in this case, look over the section on overwatering at the end in the post) However, if youre watering your succulents in a responsible manner and they are placed in a soil that drains well, then sunburn is likely the cause.

Succulents can be very different with regards to their preferred sun , with aloe vera plants requiring full sunshine adapting to grow in areas that are relatively open with direct sunlight, the Arabian peninsula, while other succulents like strings of pearls or some jade plant species like direct light that is bright and could turn brownish yellowish hue in full sunlight.

All succulents, regardless of species are susceptible to sunburn if theyve been in a relatively shaded location for a time before moving to an area with intense sunshine, even if they are accustomed to direct sunlight.

This is due to succulents being extremely adaptable and attempt to adjust and adapt to the light levels that they experience continuously, even when the conditions arent ideal so that they can be able to survive.

If the succulent is relocated from a lower light to the intense sun, this abrupt change in light intensity can cause the sun-tolerant species of succulent to change into to a yellow or scorched brown color.

Solution…

  • It is crucial to determine if your succulent plant grows in full sunlight or likes bright indirect light . Then, relocate the succulent to a place that has direct light that is bright at present to avoid future browning or damage.
  • Succulents require time to adjust to various levels of light , so if your succulent needs direct sunlight, its crucial to expose them to sun over the next two weeks instead of all at once.
  • Place the succulent in the sun for a little longer every day for two weeks, which is sufficient period for your succulent to adjust to the increased brightness of the sun without burning. Succulents release chemicals to protect the leaves from sun exposure and these chemicals is stimulated by exposure to more sunlight.

Unfortunately, the succulents that have been burned by the sun leaves will not appear to be able to recover once theyve been burned, but as long as the plant has had a time to adjust to the sunlight or you have changed it into indirect light the damage will not be any more severe.

Succulents are able to live with sun-burned areas, however they dont turn green once more and remain the scorched yellowish brown color.

One way of rekindle their appearance following sunburn is cutting the most burned leaves back to the base or stem using the use of a sterilized pair of pruners to make space and encourage new leaves to replace them, but only cut off a couple of leaves at a time , over several weeks to avoid putting more strain to the plants.

It is possible to cut off any healthy area of the succulent to propagate since this could be the only method to save sun-burnt succulents based on the severity of the damage.

Succulent Dying From the Bottom

The reason that succulent leaves are dropping to the bottom of the plant is due to a lack of sunlight, or underwatering, or due to the old age of the succulent. If succulents dont have enough light or moisture they will redirect water and energy to enduring new leaves, causing the lower leaves to fade and then grow back.

The leaves of succulents are usually shed at the base of the plant when they grow this is a normal aspect of the plants life cycle. It doesnt necessarily mean that the succulent has died, therefore generally speaking, theres nothing to worry about.

To enhance the appearance of your succulent make sure that the succulent is crisp and dry, and the leaf should then be simple to pull off with ease. If the plant is refusing to go away, leave it for several weeks before trying again, but avoid forcing the leaf away because this could harm the plant.

If however, a few leaves are dying at the base of your succulent, then the cause is probably underwatering or sun exposure.

What can you tell if the leaves on the bottom are dying because of excessive shade or are underwatering:

  • If the lower leaves of succulents die due to excessive shade, they can also become in height and are leggy, usually with the growth slowing down and the entire stem or leaves falling downwards.
  • If the lower leaves are dying because of the submersion, there is typically some visible shrinking of the leaves that remain because their water reserves are diminished.

The Solutions…

How do you stop leaves from that are dying at the base of the succulent because of the stress of drought…

  1. If you notice some shrinking of the leaves on the upper ones along with those dying in the middle, then you should increase the amount of often you water your succulent or change the soil if its been sprayed with a hard coating that keeps water from the surface. Similar guidelines are applicable to reviving the succulents that have been submerged, so give your plant a bath in a water basin to provide the roots with the much-needed water.
  2. Allow the soil to dry again (to prevent root rot) and then give the succulent another soak. After 2 or three watering cycles, the succulent will recover and the lower leaves will stop dying.
  3. If you see water flowing across the surface of your soil, instead of soaking the correct way (which is typical for potting soils that contain peat moss) then you may continue to water the succulent, by submerging its root ball in a bowl of water, or by refilling your succulent with the soil with a special succulent and cacti soil that has a porous, air-conditioned structure that permits water to penetrate effectively, even after the soil is dry.

How can we stop leaves from that are dying due to lack of sunlight…

  1. In general succulents require either full sun or bright indirect light, so it is crucial to determine the preferred type of the particular type of succulent and then locate it in the right way.
  2. The brighter light helps the succulent to remain healthy and compact , with healthier colours and a pleasing appearance, instead of a the sagging growth that can die with leaves.
  3. Do not move a succulent right away between shade and full sun because it could suffer from sunburn because of the abrupt change in brightness. Instead, gradually open the plant to sun over the course of two weeks with increasing sun exposure every day, to give the succulent time to adjust.
  4. If the succulent is in size and is drooping over and is drooping, its ideal to cut a piece from a leaf or stem to grow as after the succulent has collapsed due to its weight it will not always get back to its normal form.

Succulent Dying resulting from Cold Temperatures

Succulents are adapted to living in hot and dry climates (Jade plants are native to Africa and aloe vera plants are native to the Arabian peninsula), therefore most species are not particularly cold hardy and most popular succulent die if they experience temperatures lower then 50degF (10degC) for a significant amount of time and most succulent are susceptible to frost damage.

Succulents thrive best in the house, with an ideal temperature range of 55degF to 80degF (13degC-27degC) which is ideal for development.

If succulents are subjected to cold, or even frost the stems and leaves become black or brown and become mushy when the water stored in the leaves is frozen.

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

The Solution…

Transfer your succulent to a area of your garden or home which is located between 55degF and 80degF (13degC-27degC) and make sure that the leaves arent directly in contact with windows since they could be colder than the rest of your home, and reduce any watering you do for the moment.

When the succulent is in a more stable and secure environment, the effects of cold will not be a problem in the near term.

If the leaves of your succulent appear to be mushy, wait until the mushy damaged area of the succulent is dry and forms a callus.

When the mushy portion of the leaf is dried then cut the leaf back down to the area that is damaged. The parts that are damaged by cold succulent usually do not heal however the plant in its entirety is able to be saved if the damage isnt too severe.

Re-water the succulent after the callus on the leaf cut has healed to avoid any other problems that could arise since cold damage may increase the likelihood for root rot.

It is often a matter of patience, but succulents eventually develop new leaves and begin to get back to normal after the cold has caused damage.

Key Takeaways:

Stephanie

Stephanie

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 :)