Black Spots on Succulents: What Causes Them and What to Do About Them?

It can be pretty disappointing to keep watering a succulent and watching it grow, only to find black spots on it. Black spots on succulents occur for different reasons, and they’re not always easy to fix.

They may happen because of sunburn as a result of too much exposure to the sun, and they may happen because of a fungus infection that results from overwatering. Alternatively, these spots may appear because of viruses.

Identifying the reason for those black spots is key before moving forward with a solution. If you are a succulent enthusiast, this article is for you! Here is a list of possible reasons why your beautiful succulents have black spots, as well as different approaches to getting rid of them:

Black spots on succulent

1- Viruses

Just like us, plants can get sick too. The black ring virus, aka Tospovirus, is one of the most common threats to your succulents. Tospovirus is the same virus that infects tomatoes.

Even though viruses don’t kill jade plants, they can spread in a predictable way.

Different research has concluded that determining virus origins in cacti and succulents is much harder due to the nature of their gelatinous tissue. So, you can never be sure why your plant got infected. But either way, you’ll need to act fast to save it.

What to Do

Unfortunately, viruses are uncurable, so what you need to do is remove the diseased leaves from the plant and disinfect the clippers with alcohol to save the rest of the plant from getting infected.

It’s worth noting that not all viruses cause black spots, but if you check all the other possibilities off the list, a virus may be the reason you’re looking for. In that case, make sure not to leave any infected part of the plant intact, or else the virus will keep eating away at it.

Read more: How to Propagate Succulents in Water

2- Bugs and Animals

If the black spots are small and look like a line of dots, they are probably caused by a bug infestation.

The spots would then look like small bites. If you find the bites quite large, there’s a possibility a larger animal caused it, like a possum or a mouse, for example. However, pests and bugs are more common.

When spider mites, mealybugs, or aphids eat succulent leaves, they tend to leave behind dead spots where black mold grows and causes the damage in question. It is better to closely inspect the black spots and bite-size marks left on your succulent before you go ahead with determining a solution.

What to Do

Luckily for you, pest infestations are actually easy to handle.

First, get rid of the damaged leaves and trash them at once. Then, use cotton swabs dipped in rubbing alcohol or insecticidal soap to wipe the leaves clean and kill the invading insects. It’s better to do that daily until the annoying pests are fully gone.

As an alternative, mix some apple cider vinegar with water and spray it on the plant. This is a great way to get rid of mealy bugs and many other pests that can cause damage. You can also get rid of the bugs by mixing dishwashing soap, neem oil, and water and spraying the mixture on the leaves.

If you are too busy to make your own treatments, you can always get store-bought ones, and you won’t have to worry about making them yourself. However, you should know that jade plants should not be treated with insecticide soap.

Remember to disinfect your tools regularly after dealing with pests, so that fungi don’t infect or re-infect your plants.

  3- Sun Exposure

Sun glowing on succulents

Most plants love good exposure to the sun. Succulents, in particular, are different. If the black spots on your succulents’ leaves are dry-looking, it may be due to sunburn.

Some plants will dry out if they’re suddenly exposed to bright sunlight without enough time to get used to it. That’s because succulents easily grow in low-light conditions yet still need a good amount of sun exposure.

So, if you leave your succulent out on the patio or outdoors for too long, you are risking it getting sunburned. Also, buying a succulent that has spent a lot of time, fully or partially, away from the sun can cause the same problem. Similarly, keeping your succulent in the shade for too long might hinder its growth.

Therefore, it’s better to be careful when buying a new succulent and know what its previous growing conditions were before taking it home.

What to Do

The bad news is that burned leaves can never get better, so you need to cut them out and put the rest of the plant in the shade. You should take it out in the sun for only three to four hours every morning in the first week. After that, add one to two hours each day.

Getting your succulent used to the sun has to be done with a specific structure and carefully. Try not to expose the plant to a new environment suddenly to avoid stressing it.

By the fourth or maybe the fifth day, your succulent will be used to its new home, and you won’t have to worry about it getting sunburned again. Worrying about the proper weather conditions for your succulents is a valid concern, so arm yourself with knowledge. Remember, adjustment is key!

Related: How to Split Succulents: Removing and Multiplying Offsets

4- Watering

The black spots sometimes look mushy. In this case, your succulent could be drowning due to being overwatered, causing the black spots.

Here is why: just like camels, succulents store extra water in their stems and roots to save for later. They usually grow in a desert climate, and that’s why they save up on water.

When a succulent is overwatered, the water-storing tissue eventually bursts. This is known as edema, which can lead to the growth of a fungus. It could also be caused by rainfall.

So, if your succulent was placed on the patio during a rainy season, there’s a high chance that the poor things were struggling with too much water.

What to Do

Not to worry, gardeners, we’ve got the solution for you!

The first thing to do is to examine the plant’s roots as well as the plant as a whole. If they appear healthy for the most part, remove the damaged stems and leaves only, then put the succulents back in the pot in dry soil immediately.

However, sometimes the damage is far more severe. If the plant looks extra soft, then it might be too late to save it. In that case, replace the damaged part with cuttings, wait for them to heal, then put them back into the original pot—this time with dry soil. Sometimes, starting fresh is best.

All in all, allowing the soil to dry between each watering session is the best way to prevent this from happening. Water is indeed the source of life, but remember, too much water can ruin your beautiful greens!

Succulents in terrarium

Conclusion

It might be hard to figure out what caused a black patch on your succulent. This is due to the fact that there are a variety of possible factors.

These spots may appear due to physical damage, insects, fungus infections, too much water, and/or too much sun. They can also happen due to viruses, though those are less common.

Don’t worry, though, because there are numerous solutions to each problem, and you may be able to save your succulent from dying if you act fast enough.