How to Revive a Dying Succulent Plant

How to Revive a Dying Succulent Plant

Overwatering and poorly draining soils are the main causes of succulent deaths. Succulents need the soil to dry out between waterings because they are drought-tolerant plants. Succulents get root rot in wet soil, which turns their leaves brown, black, or yellow and gives them a withering appearance.

While overwatering is the most frequent cause of dying succulents, there are several other potential causes as well:

Succulent Dying SymptomsCause of Succulent Death
Soft, mushy leaves or stems with succulent leaves that are going brown, yellow, or black:Overwatering and poorly draining, wet soils can cause root rot.
Browning succulent with a burnt appearance:Due to the contrast of going from a shady location to an area of full sun, succulents are susceptible to sunburn. Some succulents don’t even need direct sunlight; they just need intense, indirect light.
fading leaves, a succulentLosing leaves is frequently a sign of stress brought on by over watering or by soil that is too wet and holds on to moisture.
shrivelling or wrinkled succulent leaves with a drooping appearance:Drought stress is brought on by inadequate watering, watering too little, or soil that pulls water away from the roots and down the edge of the pot.
At the bottom, succulent leaves are dying:Succulents’ bottom leaves naturally wither away. to ensure the succulent’s complete health.
tall and drooping succulent that occasionally has withering lower leaves:If succulents are under too much shadow, they get tall and drooping. Lower leaves can wither away when succulents divert their energy to younger leaves in an effort to find more light.
Succulents with squishy, black stems or leaves:Black leaves may be a sign of frost or cold-related damage or root rot from excessive irrigation. Less than 50°F (10°C) is particularly cold-sensitive for several succulents.

Succulent plants typically die back when they are kept in environments that are drastically different from their native habitat.

Replicating some of the minimal rainfall, full or partial sun exposure, and stony, well-draining soil conditions will help revive dying succulents.

Find out how to revive a dying succulent plant by reading on.

Succulent Turning Yellow, Brown or Black (Over watered)

  • Symptoms. Succulent Leaves and stems developing soft, mushy textures, drooping appearances, and turning yellow, brown, black, or even translucent.
  • Causes. Root rot and stem rot can be caused by overwatering succulents, soils that drain poorly or retain too much water, pots lacking drainage holes, and saucers and trays placed underneath pots that obstruct proper drainage. Succulents can also become brown due to sunburn.

Succulents are drought-tolerant plants that have evolved specifically to survive in hot, dry, desert-like conditions in well-draining soils with sporadic rainfall.

Planting succulents in a gritty, well-draining potting soil and typically watering them when the soil around the roots has completely dried out will help you grow them successfully and prevent your plants’ leaves from turning brown, black, or yellow. This will help you avoid the plants’ leaves turning brown, black, or yellow.

Succulent plants can become too wet around the roots if they are watered excessively frequently or if they are planted in potting soil that retains moisture for an excessively long time.

Your succulent will become yellow, brown, black, or translucent with soft, mushy leaves as an indication of water stress from overwatering, which might potentially mean root rot.

The majority of succulents need the soil to be fully dry around their roots before being watered once more, which mimics the typical watering cycle in their original environment, which features sparse rainfall followed by drought.

Additionally, it’s crucial to plant succulents in containers with drainage holes in the base so that any extra water can drain and prevent the soil around the roots from becoming soggy and leading to root rot.

The dirt at the bottom of the succulents’ pot can become soggy due to saucers, trays, and ornate exterior pots, which can also make the succulents’ leaves become yellow, brown, or black and eventually die from root rot.

How to Revive Dying Succulents Turning Yellow, Brown or Black

  • Restrict the irrigation. The leaves of your succulent are turning yellow, brown, or black as a symptom of stress as a result of overwatering if you are watering it more frequently than once a week. Only water succulents when the soil surrounding their roots has totally dried out. This usually takes around 14 days, although it may take longer or shorter depending on the environment, the size of the pot, and how well the soil drains.
  • Put fresh potting soil in. Your succulent can still become yellow, brown, or black if the potting soil holds moisture for a long time like a sponge instead of draining fast and not holding much moisture as it would in the succulent’s native environment, even if you are waiting for the soil to dry up before watering again. If your succulent was originally planted in regular potting soil, remove it from the container and replace it with special succulent and cactus soil (available at garden centres and on Amazon), which closely resembles the coarse, porous, well-draining soil conditions found in the succulent’s natural habitat and greatly reduces the risk of root rot.
  • Succulents should always be grown in pots with drainage holes at the bottom. As long as the pot has a hole at the bottom that allows excess water to drain out, succulents can be grown in a wide range of containers without risking root rot. As succulents prefer dryer soil conditions, terracotta or clay pots are the best choice because they have a more porous structure that allows the potting soil to dry out. Plant succulents in pots that are appropriate to their size because larger pots can store more soil and moisture, which delays the rate at which the earth dries up and raises the possibility that the succulent will turn yellow, brown, or black.

Feel the dirt at the bottom of the container via the drainage hole to determine whether the potting soil surrounding the roots of your succulent has dried out. Delay watering your succulent for a few days if the soil feels wet. This is the ideal time to water your succulent if the soil seems dry.

The natural conditions of intermittent rainfall followed by drought, to which succulents are well adapted, can be successfully imitated by watering your succulent after the soil has become dry.

If you are using saucers or trays underneath your pot, make sure they are frequently emptied to allow water to leave freely so that the soil may dry out in between watering sessions. Also, make sure that there are no roots or compacted soil covering the drainage holes in the bottom of the pot.

The succulent can begin to recover even if the leaves appear yellow or brown as long as you let the soil dry out once you have addressed the reasons why it is turning soft, mushy, and turning yellow or brown (adjusted how frequently you water and replaced the soil) and put in place the ideal watering practises.

How soon your succulent recovers will depend on how long it has been under stress, but over the coming weeks, it should start to show signs of recovery.

After the soil has dried out, if the succulent shows signs of recovery, such as a decrease in yellow/brown colouring and firmer-textured leaves, you should resume watering. Doing so will help you avoid going from one extreme of overwatering to underwatering your succulent, which can cause the plant to wilt and die back.

Depending on the kind, some of your succulent’s more damaged leaves may become limp or even fall off (this is common for jade succulents).

Cut the individual yellow or brown leaves back to the base of the succulent with a sterile pair of pruners if the discoloration is spreading and the leaves do not appear to be recovering. This will lessen the overall stress on the succulent and stop any rot from spreading, which aids in promoting recovery.

Succulents with severe root rot can be saved…

Root rot is the reason of your dying succulent if the yellow, brown, or black colouring of its leaves or stems worsens over time despite proper watering and replacement of the soil with a well-draining, grit-filled potting mix.

Although it may be impossible to salvage the entire succulent if it has root rot, you can still propagate the plant by taking cuttings from healthy tissue.

Since this is one of the mechanisms of reproduction in the native environment of succulents, all succulent plants can be easily propagated from a single leaf or from a healthy part of stem.

Watch this instructive YouTube video to learn how to quickly grow additional succulent plants with no additional cost using cuttings and leaves:

Succulents Turning Brown Due to Sun Burn

Overwatering is the most frequent cause of browning in succulents, but depending on how badly the sunburned the plant, it can also cause the leaves to turn pale brown or even yellow.

Varied succulents require different amounts of light, with some aloe succulents flourishing in direct sunlight while others prefer brilliant indirect light and are sensitive to direct sunlight (such as snake plants).

Succulents require some time to adapt to varied light intensities, so if they are relocated from a relatively shady place into an area of full sun, they could all get sunburned.

As a result, it’s critical to determine the light needs for your specific succulent type. If you do decide to move your succulent to a brighter location, do it gradually over the course of two weeks, exposing it to more sun each day.

Your succulent will have time to appropriately acclimatise to the area of higher light intensity without burning if it is gradually exposed to more sunshine.

The answer is…

If your succulent has become scorched brown from sunburn, temporarily transfer it to an area with bright indirect light.

Unfortunately, severely sunburned sections of succulents seldom recover in appearance. However, this does not always indicate the succulent is dead because, as long as it has been relocated out of the sun, the plant’s condition is unlikely to deteriorate.

Although sunburned leaves on succulents can survive, it is best practise to remove them for aesthetic reasons.

With a clean pair of pruners, trim any burned sections of leaves below the brown or yellowish patches, ideally all the way to the plant’s root. In order to fill their place, new leaves sprout as a result.

However, if your succulent has suffered severe sunburn, the best way to revive it is to look for leaves and cuttings on the side of the plant that receives more shade so you can propagate them and grow more plants from them in areas with better light conditions, which will satisfy the needs of that particular succulent.

Dying Succulent Losing Leaves

  • Symptoms. Succulents that spontaneously or in response to minor bumps lose their leaves. Despite having a healthy green appearance, leaves can drop off or change somewhat to yellow, brown, or transparent.
  • Causes. Dropping succulent leaves is a sign of overwatering, excessively damp soil, or saucers and trays that stop water from flowing from the pot.

The loss of leaves in some succulents, especially those of the jade species like (Crassula ovata) and Gollum Jade, is a warning sign that the plant is under stress because the soil around the roots is excessively wet.

An excessive amount of watering, soils that retain moisture, and containers with poor drainage can all cause a succulent to lose its leaves.

Succulents are adapted to resist drought and grow in stony, well-draining soils that do not retain much moisture around the roots in their natural environment.

Succulents are sensitive to overwatering and cannot withstand moist environments.

Losing leaves on a succulent is a sign that you need to water it less frequently in order to avoid more serious issues like root rot, which is the most prevalent reason for dying succulents.

If you change the succulent’s growing conditions to mimic the natural watering cycle, you can usually save it.

(Read my post on how frequently to water succulents for information on how to water succulents at various times of the year and under various circumstances.)

How to Revive a Succulent that is Losing Leaves

How to Revive a Succulent that is Losing Leaves

Give your succulent two weeks to dry out the soil, and before you water it again, make sure the potting soil is totally dry (confirm this by feeling the dirt via the drainage hole in the base).

Your succulent should stop losing leaves and begin to recuperate once you have changed the circumstances by adding more porous succulent and cactus soil and watering it appropriately.

However, root rot is more likely to occur and the plant is more likely to die back if the succulent has been sitting in wet soil for a long time.

Succulent Leaves Shriveling, Wilting or Wrinkled

  • Symptoms. Leaves appear wrinkled, or shrivelled or perhaps thinner, typically with a drooping appearance.
  • Causes. Drought stress is caused by inadequate watering, watering the succulent too lightly, soil that prevents water from penetrating and reaching the roots, or excessive interior temperatures brought on by artificial heating.

Because succulents are sensitive to too much moisture around the roots and are better adapted to withstand drought, overwatering is typically the cause of their demise.

However, if they are not watered frequently enough, are watered too lightly, or are in a hot environment (whether indoors or outdoors) that increases water loss from the leaves and soil evaporation, succulents can still experience drought stress.

Another possible reason why succulents experience drought stress is because the potting soil has dried up and become hard, which prevents water from adequately penetrating the soil and reaching the roots, causing the leaves to shrivel, seem thinner, or droop, depending on the type of succulent.

Depending on the kind of succulent, drought stress causes the leaves to shrivel, wrinkle, wilt, and droop; however, the leaves can also notably narrow or even curl inward, which is frequent in aloe plants (read my article for more on aloe plants with leaves curling inwards).

This is so that succulents can store moisture in their fleshy, thick leaves, roots, and tubers, which absorb water from the soil.

If the succulent leaves are well hydrated, they feel firm and plump. In order to endure drought in environments with sporadic rainfall, the succulent then makes use of the moisture that is stored in its leaves.

Because the preserved moisture also acts as a structural support for the succulent, as the succulent draws on the moisture reserves in the leaves, they eventually get thinner and their surface may wrinkle.

While succulents don’t require as much watering as other plants do, they still need a good soak every time you water.

When you water a succulent too lightly, only the top inch of the soil is moist and the water does not get to the roots, where it is needed. This can lead to drought stress, which can cause the succulent to become shrivelled.

To prevent root rot and to make sure the succulent has enough water for the leaves to stay plump and firm rather than shrivelled, succulents should be watered around every two weeks after their potting soil has dried up around the roots.

(To learn the best ways to water succulents, read my articles on watering aloe vera, jade plants, and snake plants.)

Fortunately, because succulents can handle drought stress better than overwatering, it is frequently simple to restore dying plants with curled leaves from underwatering.

How to Revive Succulents with Wrinkled, Shriveling Leaves

  • Put the succulent in a bowl of water for around ten minutes. Succulents do not require as much watering as other plants, but they do benefit from a good soak in the soil followed by a period of time without watering. The drought-stressed succulent can receive much-needed hydration by being submerged in a water basin, which also ensures that the potting soil is evenly moistened. This is crucial if the surface of your potting soil has dried out and is now repelling water rather than allowing it to reach the roots. After 10 minutes, remove the succulent from the water and let the water drain through the drainage pores.
  • Always wet your soil thoroughly. Water succulents liberally so that any extra water drips out of the bottom of the pot. By doing this, you can make sure that the soil is consistently moist and that the roots of the succulents can absorb the liquid they need to restore the reserves of moisture in the leaves and reverse their shrivelled appearance.
  • Increasing the frequency of watering succulents (if necessary). Although succulents can withstand drought, they nevertheless need regular watering to keep their leaves from becoming wilted or drooping. For best results, water succulents once every two weeks with a deep soak. This will keep the leaves looking lush and healthy. To prevent root rot, you should always wait until the soil is completely dry before watering again.
  • By feeling the dirt via the drainage hole in the pot’s base, you can determine when your succulent needs to be watered. Every two days after watering, poke your finger into the soil to gauge how long it will take for it to dry out. The ideal time to water is when the soil at the bottom of the container feels dry. This watering technique mimics the cycle of soil moisture that succulents are used to in their natural environment, which is one of drought, followed by rainfall.
  • If water is dripping off the surface of the potting soil, replace it. When it dries up, peat-based potting soil has a tendency to bake hard, which makes water run off the surface. To prevent root rot, succulents require an open, porous soil structure that encourages good drainage and allows water to seep in even when the soil is dried out. Replace your potting soil with specially formulated succulent and cactus soil (available from garden shops or on Amazon) that is designed to mimic the well-draining soil qualities of the native environment of the succulent.
  • Make sure no indoor heat sources are close to your succulent. The leaves of the succulent can grow shrivelled and dry out too rapidly if there is too much heat in the nights from fireplaces, radiators, or forced air. Succulents thrive at room temperature ranges of 55°F to 80°F (13°C to 27°C), as long as they are not directly exposed to a heat source.

The succulent should typically exhibit symptoms of recovery after two or three watering cycles (allowing the soil to dry out before watering again), including bigger leaves, less drooping, and a less shrivelled appearance.

Succulent Growing Tall with Leaves Dying at the Bottom

  • Symptoms. The succulent plant’s lower leaves are turning dark, crunchy, and dying-looking. In addition, the succulent can become tall and lanky, with drooping leaves.
  • Causes. Succulents lose their bottom leaves and become leggy in the absence of sunlight. Lower leaves on succulents also wither away when new leaves develop.

Due to inadequate sunshine, succulent leaves at the bottom wither and perish. The younger leaves on the succulent grow taller to seek out more light if it is in too much shade, while the lower leaves become crispy and dry and appear to be dying.

Sometimes, as they develop in the direction of the sun’s rays, individual leaves might become tall and frail, causing them to droop from their own weight (this is common with aloe vera plants in too much shade).

Aloe plants, which are used to full sun, require more sunlight than other varieties of succulents, whereas string of pearls, a succulent, needs brilliant indirect light to avoid burning. It is crucial to know how much light your particular succulent requires.

Succulents maintain a better form and stay compact while they are growing in their ideal light circumstances since they don’t need to grow tall and seek out additional light.

The natural cycle of growth for succulents includes decaying leaves near the base of the plant, even if the succulent does not appear to be lanky or drooping. Your succulent’s bottom leaves may be fading, but this is frequently totally natural and not a sign that the plant is failing altogether.

How To Revive Succulents with Leaves Dying at the Bottom

  • Make sure the succulent is in a spot with ample light if you want to resuscitate tall succulents with fading lower leaves. To stay compact and avoid lanky growth, succulents either need strong indirect light (such as that provided by string, pearl, or snake plants) or 4-6 hours of direct sunlight (like that provided by aloe and jade plants).
  • Expose your succulent to more light gradually since succulents can burn if they suddenly go from shade to full sun. Over the course of a few weeks, move the succulents to a sunnier or brighter position for an additional half an hour or so every other day so that they can get used to the higher amounts of light.
  • It is challenging to restore a succulent to its former shape and form if the growth has drooped. In that circumstance, the only option to preserve the succulent’s beauty is often to take cuttings from the leaves or stems for propagation or for new plants (all succulents propagate readily).
  • Although the succulent is not harmed by the dead or withered leaves at its base, it should nevertheless be pruned to maintain a healthy appearance. Use tweezers or your hands to gently twist any dead, brown leaves. Instead of attempting to force the leaves off, leave them in place for about a month and then try again.

Succulent Dying from Cold

Succulent Dying from Cold

The majority of succulent types are not cold tolerant and will perish if left in temperatures below 50°F (10°C) for an extended period of time.

The majority of succulent species thrive at normal room temperature, with aloe vera preferring a temperature range of 55°F–80°F (13°C–27°C).

Succulents’ leaves and stems may become mushy in texture and appear dark or black if they are subjected to chilly weather or even frost.

The younger leaves of the succulents frequently show more damage.

How to Revive Cold Damaged Succulents

Place your succulent at a location in your house or garden where the temperature is often between 55°F and 80°F (13°C and 27°C). Make sure that none of the leaves are in direct touch with windows because they can get much colder than the rest of the house. Reduce watering for the time being.

The cold damage should not likely worsen once the succulent is in a more stable environment.

Wait a few days, if not weeks, and the succulent’s mushy, cold-damaged section should dry out and callus over if the leaves feel gooey.

Cut the leaf back to below the injured section once the mushy portion has dried out. Cold-damaged succulent areas normally do not recover, but the succulent plant as a whole can recover.

In order to avoid additional potential issues, you should only restart watering the succulent once the callus of the leaf cut has completely healed over. Cold damage increases the danger of root rot.

The succulent can ultimately sprout new leaves and begin to regain its usual appearance after being damaged by the cold, but it takes a lot of persistence.

Key Takeaways:

  • The most frequent cause of succulent death is root rot brought on by over watering and poorly draining soils. Plants that can withstand drought, succulents need the soil to dry out between waterings. A succulent that has mushy, brown, yellow, or black leaves is withering because the soil is excessively wet.
  • Overwatering or sunburn cause succulents to turn brown. Brown, mushy succulent leaves are a sign of excessive moisture around the roots. Due to a rapid rise in sunshine intensity, scorched-looking brown succulent leaves may be the result of sunburn.
  • Because of excessive moisture around the roots brought on by frequent watering, wet soils, or pots without drainage holes, succulent leaves turn yellow. The soil needs to dry out between waterings for succulents. Yellow and mushy succulent leaves may be a sign of root rot brought on by over watering.
  • If succulents are exposed to too much shade, they become tall and lanky. Succulent leaves grow tall in the direction of the strongest light since the majority of succulents need bright, indirect light or full sun. Tall succulent leaves can droop under their own weight and often have weaker, withering leaves at the base.
  • Due to inadequate or excessive watering, succulent plants experience drought stress, which causes their leaves to shrivel. As a means of survival, succulents store moisture in their leaves. Underwatering your succulent causes it to draw on the moisture reserves in the leaves, giving it a shrivelled appearance.
  • Recreate the circumstances of the succulents’ natural environment by planting them in well-draining, rocky soil with the appropriate amount of sunshine, and watering them when the soil becomes dry. To preserve the succulent, take cuttings from healthy areas of the plant.


How do you save a dying succulent?

Saving dying succulents is typically quite easy. After they go through a “incident” that caused their weakness, give them good care. In the event that all everything fails, save a healthy leaf or stem fragment, let it wilt, and then plant it in succulent soil.

Can you bring dead succulents back to life?

Succulents’ hardiness is one of the reasons so many people adore cultivating them. Sadly, some individuals see this as permission to ignore their plants. Your succulent will no longer be able to be revived after it has entirely died.

Can you revive a dead succulent?

Succulents’ hardiness is one of the reasons so many people adore cultivating them. Sadly, some individuals see this as permission to ignore their plants. Your succulent will no longer be able to be revived after it has entirely died.

How do you revive a dead succulent?

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.

What does a dying succulent look like?

A decaying succulent will have stems that are either brown or black and squishy, as well as black leaves that begin at the base of the plant.