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

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

Succulents commonly die due to root rot brought on by over irrigation and wet soils. The only time to water succulents is when the soil has dried out. The succulent’s leaves begin to become brown, yellow, or black and eventually die from root rot if the soil is persistently moist.

The succulent will droop and perhaps lose its leaves if it is overwatered. There are, however, a number of additional causes for your succulent’s demise.

The following are the main causes of a succulent dying:

  1. Root rot caused by excessive soil moisture and irrigation (Leaves turning brown, yellow, black, translucent with a mushy texture, sometimes with a drooping appearance).
  2. Drought stress brought on by inadequate or insufficient irrigation for your climate (leaves turn wrinkled with a wilted appearance, some leaves may turn brown and crispy).
  3. dying succulents upon repotting (transplant shock and planting succulents in the wrong soil type causing root rot).
  4. Overwatering or sunburn-related browning or yellowing of succulents (some succulents require bright indirect light and can burn in full sunlight).
  5. a succulent that is progressively fading (potentially caused by lack of light, too much moisture or the succulent is natural shedding lower leaves).
  6. Cold-related succulent deaths (many succulents are not cold-hardy and can perish in temperatures below 50°F/10°C) and frost.

Find out how to revive your wilting succulent by reading on.

Succulent Dying of Root Rot (Overwatering)

A succulent that is dying is typically the result of overwatering or excessively moist soil. Succulents are drought-tolerant plants that need the soil to get completely dry in between waterings. Succulents rot from the roots up if the soil is too wet, turning brown, yellow, or black.

Succulents are drought-tolerant plants that have adapted to life in rocky, well-draining soils with high temperatures and infrequent rainfall in their original environment. They flourish in harsh situations where other plants find it difficult to survive.

Due to their predilection for dry surroundings, succulents cannot withstand excessive soil moisture or frequent watering because these conditions can lead to root rot, which will eventually cause the plant to wither and die.

The most typical mistakes made when taking care of a succulent at home or in the garden are:

  • Frequently watering your succulent or…
  • Instead of using special succulent and cactus soil, which retains too much moisture, plant the succulent in regular potting soil.

Even if you water succulents once every two weeks as recommended by experts, the soil may remain overly wet after watering, causing the leaves to become brown, yellow, or black and the roots to rot.

Succulents require specially designed succulent and cacti soil that closely resembles the well-draining, grit-filled soil of their natural habitat and considerably lowers the danger of root rot.

When a succulent is overwatered, the first indicators of stress are:

  • stems or leaves that become brown, yellow, transparent, or black.
  • Overwatering causes some succulents, like jade plants, to frequently lose their leaves.
  • a wilted or drooping aspect.
  • Succulents that receive too much water might actually rupture and develop wrinkled leaves.
  • Instead of being lush and healthy, the leaves feel mushy and soft.

Your succulent plant will die if you water it more frequently than once a week. This is known as overwatering.

It’s crucial to mimic some of the growing conditions of the succulent’s native habitat with the right well-draining soil and to water your succulent in a cycle of a thorough watering once every two weeks or so if you want to effectively grow succulents and prevent root rot.

To keep the plant healthy, lavishly watering succulents simulates the cycle of watering that succulent plants often experience in their original environment, which includes a deluge of rainfall followed by a time of drought.

(To learn how to determine when to water succulents so they stay healthy and avoid root rot, read my post How Often to Water Succulents.)

Save Succulents Dying of Root Rot From Overwatering

The first thing to do if your succulent is exhibiting any signs of stress due to overwatering or root rot is to…

  • Reduce the amount of time you spend watering the succulent plant and let the soil surrounding its roots to totally dry up. Only water succulents when the soil surrounding their roots is dry. Succulents can usually be watered once every two weeks, which resembles their natural watering cycle.
  • By feeling the soil at the pot’s base, you may determine how frequently you should water your succulent. If the soil is wet, wait a few days before watering; if the soil is dry, now is the time to water deeply so that the soil is evenly saturated.
  • Replant your succulent in well-draining soil made specifically for cacti and succulents that is porous, allows for good drainage, and mimics the normal soil conditions found in a succulent’s native habitat.
  • To make sure the succulent is not in standing water, always plant succulents in containers with drainage holes in the base and routinely empty saucers, trays, and ornamental pots of excess water. The use of saucers and trays can help to keep water from overflowing around the house, but you need watch out for water collecting around the roots of your succulent to guarantee adequate soil drainage and the avoidance of root rot.

I must reiterate the significance of succulent and cactus soil to help prevent root rot because succulents are likely to die if they are in regular potting soil owing to how long it stays damp.

The succulent should start to show symptoms of recovery with the darkening of the leaves diminishing and eventually returning to a healthier green appearance using adequate potting soil and allowing for the soil to dry out before watering again.

The rot can kill the succulent, thus more serious measures are needed to save it if the leaves continue to become brown, yellow, or black and the mushy portion of the leaves is growing.

If this is the case, the only method to salvage the succulent is to strategically prune the plant’s sick areas and collect cuttings of leaves and stems from any healthy tissue that is still there.

Since this is one of the primary processes used by succulents in their natural environment for reproduction, propagating them is relatively simple. The following YouTube video will teach you how to grow succulents.

Succulents Dying From Underwatering (Drooping, Shriveled Leaves)

Due to its affinity for well-draining soils and occasional watering, overwatering is the most prevalent cause of succulent death.

However, if they are not hydrated properly or are planted in soil that has peat as one of their constituents, which can reject water when it is dry, succulents can still succumb to drought stress.

Succulents shrink when they are not watered frequently enough or are irrigated too lightly. Succulents require more frequent watering than other plants (every two weeks or so), so that water trickles from the bottom of the pot to keep the leaves from shriveling.

After a flood of rain, succulents retain moisture in their leaves and stems as a defense mechanism against droughts in their native harsh, arid habitats.

The succulent’s leaves should appear thick and robust when it is properly watered.

The succulent pulls from and depletes the moisture stores in the leaves and stems, causing the leaves to look thinner and the surface to shrivel as a result. This can happen if the succulent is not watered frequently enough or too lightly.

Because the moisture reserves serve as the plant’s structural support, the leaves and stems can also droop as a result of drought stress.

It is important to remember that some potting soils, especially those that contain peat moss, repel watering when they become dry. As a result, water runs off the soil’s surface and down the side of the pot rather than penetrating the soil and reaching the roots, leading to the symptoms of drought stress, including shriveled leaves.

Fortunately, saving succulents that are under stress from drought is far easier than saving succulents that are overwatered.

Save Dying Underwatered Succulents

  1. Make sure the root ball is completely submerged in the water when you submerge the underwatered succulent in a basin of water for around 10 minutes. Water can thus efficiently permeate the soil and reach the roots where it is needed. After around 10 minutes, take the succulent out of the basin and let any extra water freely drain from the drainage holes in the bottom of the pot.
  2. Before watering the succulent soil again, wait until it has dried out (about 2 weeks) and be sure to thoroughly water it so the soil is evenly moist.
  3. On average, you should water your succulent every two weeks. Succulent plants do not accept being in damp soil, thus it is crucial to make sure the soil dries between waterings (which causes root rot).
  4. 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, press your finger into the soil to measure how long it takes for the soil to dry out. In your climate and under your circumstances, you should water when the soil at the bottom of the pot feels dry. This watering technique mirrors the cycle of soil moisture that succulents are acclimated to in their natural environment, which is one of drought, followed by rainfall.
  5. Replace the soil with succulent and cactus soil if you find that water is not adequately soaking into the soil and is instead flowing off the surface and down the edge of the pot. In order for your succulent to obtain the moisture it needs to stay healthy, you should use specially formulated succulent and cactus soil that maintains an open, porous structure that encourages good drainage (available form garden centers and on Amazon).
  6. When growing succulents inside, avoid placing them too close to heat sources like radiators or in the direct path of air currents that can quickly dry out the soil and zap the moisture from the leaves. Keep succulents in a location where the temperature is reasonably constant rather than varying noticeably owing to indoor heating. Succulents may grow quite well in room temperature, with the majority of species preferring a temperature range of 55°F-80°F (13°C-27°C).

As long as you water thoroughly and consistently, the succulent leaves should recover from drought stress after two or three watering cycles, and they will look healthy and plump.

When succulents are properly hydrated, their leaves should feel solid and appear smooth (rather than shriveled).

However, it is frequently too difficult to preserve a succulent that has experienced a prolonged drought.

Succulent Dying after Repotting

Succulent Dying after Repotting

Succulents are adaptive and develop adapted to a certain set of conditions, so when they are unexpectedly repotted or relocated to a different location, they frequently show indications of stress.

After repotting, it’s crucial to keep in mind that the pot itself might significantly affect the succulent for two reasons:

  1. Even if you are watering your succulent the same amount, the soil moisture level is likely to alter dramatically if you have replanted it in a larger pot. This is because soil in larger pots can hold more moisture and dries up more slowly than dirt in smaller pots. This indicates that the soil surrounding the roots of your succulent is likely to be wet for longer than is typical, which might encourage the conditions for root rot and be the reason a succulent dies.
  2. The pot’s material composition may have an impact on how soon the soil dries. While plastic pots can retain more moisture than the succulent is used to and can encourage the conditions for root rot, clay pots are porous and allow moisture to dry from the soil more quickly.

But using the wrong sort of soil for potting is the most frequent reason for succulents to die after repotting.

Succulents are adapted to living in arid, swiftly draining soils with little moisture retention.

Ordinary potting soil absorbs too much moisture for succulents, which causes the leaves to turn soft and mushy and turn yellow, brown, or black, or begin to fall off (symptoms can vary according to succulent species).

The Options…

The secret is to repot your succulent into potting soil made specifically for cacti and succulents.

To mimic the desired soil type in the succulents’ natural environment, a special potting mixture is used. This significantly lowers the chance of developing root rot and can help your succulent come back to life.

Always pick a pot that is about in proportion to the size of the succulent; if you are repottering, choose the next larger pot size rather than an extremely large one since the latter could keep moisture in the soil for an excessively long time, leading to root rot.

Since the problem is too much moisture around the roots, the steps to save a dying succulent after repotting are ultimately the same as those to save an overwatered succulent (which are described in this article above). Reduce watering your succulent and let the soil dry completely while it is exhibiting signs of stress, and the succulent may begin to recover.

(Read my post How to Revive a Dying Succulent Plant to learn more about preserving succulents from root rot.)

Dying Succulent Turning Brown

Overwatering or sunburn are the causes of succulents turning brown. Brown leaves are an indication of stress brought on by too much moisture around the roots as a result of overwatering or poorly draining soils. Succulents can also develop sunburn if they are abruptly moved from shade to direct sunlight.

If the leaves of your succulent are turning brown and have a soft, mushy texture, overwatering or damp soils are to blame (in which case you should read the section on overwatering at the top of the article), but if you are watering your succulents sensibly and it is planted in the right well-draining soil, sunburn is most likely the issue.

While some succulents, like string of pearls or some jade plants, require brilliant indirect light and can scorch to a brownish yellowish color in full sun, aloe vera plants like full daylight since they have evolved to grow in relatively open places in direct sunlight on the Arabian Peninsula.

Even while they often like direct sunshine, all succulents, regardless of species, can get sunburned when they move from a reasonably shaded region to one with high sunlight after spending some time there.

This is so that they can survive, as succulents are quite adaptive and will make an effort to acclimate and adjust to the level of light that they constantly experience.

The quick change in light intensity that occurs when the succulent is moved from lower light to full sun causes even the sun-tolerant species of succulent to turn a burned brown or yellow color.

The answer is…

  • To avoid any further browning or damage, it is first vital to determine if your succulent species prefers bright indirect light or full sun. If it loves bright indirect light, relocate the succulent there for the time being.
  • If your succulent needs some direct sunshine, it’s crucial to gradually expose them to more sun over the next two weeks rather than all at once because succulents need time to acclimate to varying amounts of light.
  • For two weeks, place the potted succulent in the sun for a little bit longer each day, giving it enough time to adjust to the stronger light without scorching. Succulents create compounds that shield the leaves from sunlight, and increased sun exposure stimulates the development of these substances.

Succulent leaves that have been burned by the sun never recover their appearance, but as long as the plant has had time to become used to the light or you have moved it to indirect light, the damage shouldn’t worsen.

Succulents can survive in places that have been burned by the sun, but they do not recover their green color; instead, they remain a scorched, yellow-brown color.

The only option to restore the appearance of sunburned succulents is to remove the worst-affected leaves off the plant by cutting them back to the stem or base with sterile pruning shears. This will free up space on the plant and encourage the growth of new leaves to take their place.

Naturally, you can remove cuttings from any healthy portions of the succulent for propagation, as depending on how much the damage is done, this may be the only method to save sunburned succulents.

Succulent Dying From the Bottom

Lack of light, underwatering, or the age of the succulent are the causes of succulent leaves dying at the bottom. Succulents will divert moisture and energy to struggling newer leaves, killing off the bottom leaves, if they do not receive enough moisture or light.

Most of the time, there is nothing to worry about because succulents frequently shed leaves at the base of the plant as they expand. This is a normal part of the plant’s life cycle and does not signal your succulent is dying.

Wait until the leaf is crispy and dry before carefully twisting it off to improve the appearance of your succulent. Instead of forcing the leaf off because doing so could harm the plant, wait a few weeks if it’s still refusing to come off.

However, underwatering or a lack of sunlight are the causes if your succulent’s bottom is losing many leaves.

How to tell if the leaves at the bottom are drowning or dying from too much shade:

  • Succulents grow tall and lanky, frequently with the growth faltering and entire leaves or stems drooping downwards, if the bottom leaves die from too much shade.
  • There will typically be some visible shriveling of the remaining leaves as their moisture reserves are depleted if the bottom leaves are withering as a result of underwatering.

The Options…

How to stop the succulent’s bottom leaves from dying from drought stress

  1. You should water the succulent more frequently if there is any shriveling of the younger leaves in addition to the lower leaves withering, or you should replenish the soil if it has dried out and is becoming water-repellent. Give your plant a dip in a basin of water to provide the roots with some much-needed water, and follow the same methods to save underwatered succulents.
  2. Give the succulent another thorough soak after the soil has dried up once more (to prevent root rot). The succulent should recover after two or three watering cycles, and the leaves at the bottom should cease deteriorating.
  3. You can either continue watering your succulent by submerging the root ball in a basin of water, which is common for potting soils containing peat moss, or you can repot your succulent and replace the soil with specialized succulent and cacti soil, which retains a porous, aerated structure that allows water to infiltrate effectively even if the soil has dried out.

How to stop leaves from dying from a lack of sunlight

  1. Succulents often prefer bright, indirect light, so it’s crucial to determine the preference of your particular variety of succulent and situate it correctly.
  2. In contrast to lanky growth with fading leaves, more light stimulates the succulent to stay healthy and compact with excellent colors and an appealing appearance.
  3. A succulent shouldn’t be moved from shade to full sun right away because the sharp change in light intensity can cause sunburn. Instead, give the succulent two weeks to acclimate by gradually exposing it to more sun, increasing the amount of sunlight each day.
  4. It is frequently advisable to take a cutting from a stem or leaf to propagate a succulent if it has become leggy and drooped over since, once the succulent has drooped under its own weight, it does not frequently return to a normal appearance.

Succulent Dying from Cold Temperatures

Succulent Dying from Cold Temperatures

With an ideal temperature range of roughly 55°F-80°F (13°C-27°C), succulents grow significantly better inside.

When succulents are exposed to cold or even frost, the liquid that is contained inside the leaves freezes, causing the leaves and stems to turn brown or black and mushy.

The younger leaves of the succulents frequently show more damage.

The Approach…

Reduce watering for the time being and move your succulent to a room or part of your garden where the temperature is between 55°F and 80°F (13°C and 27°C). Also, make sure the leaves are not in direct touch with any windows because they can get colder than the rest of the house.

The harm from cold shouldn’t necessarily get worse in the short term once the succulent is in a more stable environment.

Wait until the mushy, cold-damaged portion of the succulent dries up and develops a callus if the leaves of the succulent feel gooey.

Cut the leaf back to below the damaged section once the mushy portion has dried out. Cold-damaged succulent areas normally do not recover, but if the damage is not too severe, the succulent plant can be preserved as a whole.

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.

After being damaged by cold, succulents can ultimately produce new leaves and begin to regain their natural appearance, however it frequently takes a lot of patience.

Key Takeaways:

  • Overwatering and wet soil are the causes of succulent plants dying. The soil must completely dry up before watering succulents again because they are drought-tolerant plants. Succulent leaves rot from the roots when they are placed in moist soil.
  • Succulent leaves shrink and wilt owing to drought stress, overwatering, insufficient watering frequency, or soil that has baked hard and repels water from the surface. Succulents’ leaves are water reservoirs, and when the roots do not have access to enough moisture, the leaves wilt.
  • Transplant shock or wet soils are the causes of succulents dying after repotting. A sudden difference in the amount of light, soil, and moisture causes succulents to wither. Repotted succulents may not be able to survive the new soil’s excessive moisture retention, which will cause the leaves to turn yellow, brown, or black.
  • Because they are submerged or don’t receive enough sunshine, succulent leaves wither at the bottom. Succulents and succulents that are drought-stressed When a succulent receives excessive shadow, it diverts its energy toward protecting the top leaves, which causes the lower leaves to wither and fall off near the base of the plant.
  • Due to freezing temperatures and frost, the majority of succulents lose their leaves and die back. Succulents typically require temperatures between 55°F and 80°F (13°C and 27°C). The moisture stores in the succulent plants’ leaves are harmed by freezing temperatures, which causes the plant to turn black and die.


Why is my succulent turning brown at the bottom?

Overwatering or sunburn are the causes of succulents turning brown. Brown leaves are an indication of stress brought on by too much moisture around the roots as a result of overwatering or poorly draining soils. Succulents can also develop sunburn if they are abruptly moved from shade to direct sunlight.

What to do if bottom of succulent is dying?

Should I pull off dying succulent leaves?

Humidity, wetness, and/or succulents make for a dangerous and occasionally lethal mix. You may provide your plants sufficient air circulation and make it easier for the soil to dry out by removing these dried leaves from beneath your plants.

Why is my succulent stem turning brown at the bottom?

The leaves of a rotting succulent will be dark from the bottom up. The stems would seem mushy and possibly black or brown. These are indications that overwatering has caused the plant to rot from the roots up.

Why is the bottom leaves of my succulent dying?

Because they are submerged or don’t receive enough sunshine, succulent leaves wither at the bottom. Succulents and succulents that are drought-stressed When a succulent receives excessive shadow, it diverts its energy toward protecting the top leaves, which causes the lower leaves to wither and fall off near the base of the plant.