Why Are My Succulents Dying?

You wake up every day, take a look at your succulents, and go about your daily routine. But today, you noticed your succulents looking all wrinkly and weak. So, you ask, why are my succulents dying?

You may be tempted to water them to reverse the damage, but that’ll cause them even more stress.

Your succulents are likely dying either because of overwatering or underwatering. They may be also suffering an infestation from plant pests.

Let’s see the most common reasons and what to do about them.

1.   Too Much Water

Over watering

The most common cause of death among succulents is getting too much water. Most plants need water every week, but your succulents are satisfied with getting water every other week—even in the warmest season. In fact, in winter, they can go on without water for a month or more.

The only time your succulents need water is when the soil has dried. The drying process usually takes 14 days for a properly potted succulent, so you don’t need to do it more often than that. The basic rule of watering a succulent is to water them deeper, not again and again. You should water them just as soon as the water drips from the holes of your pot drainage.

How Do I Know if I’m Overwatering?

Once the bottom leaves on the succulent turn yellowish and feel squishy, there’s a chance that you’re overwatering the plant.

Generally, try not to leave your succulents standing in water. When watering them, you should water the soil enough so that it’s moist, but not soggy.

After you water the plant, test the soil. If you find it collecting water or see a puddle, that means you’re either overwatering it, or the soil retains too much water.

Saving an Overwatered Succulent

When you realize that your succulent is overwatered, the best thing to do is to change the soil. If the soil retains water for too long, it will cause the plant’s roots to rot, eventually causing the succulent to die.

You can take the plants out of the soil and leave them to air dry. Then, replant them after letting them hang from mesh strainers for two days, so they won’t be exposed to so much water.

Make sure that your new pot has better drainage to prevent excess moisture in the soil.

Reader Also Checked: Mealybugs On Succulents: How to Identify the Problem and Fix It

2.   Low Temperature

Succulents originally grow in a drought-like environment, so they bask in the sunlight and love the warmth it brings. Cold temperatures can easily introduce frost to their roots, making their root system rot away. That’s especially true for succulents that aren’t hardy enough for the winter.

It depends on the succulent you’ve got. Some of them are actually pretty good at handling low temperatures, and their colors grow brighter in the cold. A good example of that is the Sedum genera.

If you have non-hardy succulents, you should put them under the sun when the temperature drops below 4.44 degrees Celsius (40 degrees Fahrenheit).

How Much Is too Much Sun?

Planting succulents in the sun

The weather gets cold and frosty, so you decide to move your succulent under direct sunlight.

That’s okay, but you need to know how much sun is too much.

If you notice that your succulent is turning brown, that means it’s getting sunburnt. In that case, it’s better to move it inside, but don’t put it under full shade. You can place it somewhere with indirect sunlight, which you can easily achieve using a cloth shade.

The succulent probably won’t recover from severe sunburn, but you can cut the affected leaves to promote growth. Succulents will grow new leaves as long as they’re healthy, so don’t worry about cutting a few.

Don’t overwater a sunburned succulent in hopes of making it recover. The stress of too much sun doesn’t go well with the stress of too much water.

Read more: How to Water Succulents Without Drainage

3.   Bugs, Bugs, and More Bugs

Just like all plants, succulents can get infected by pests and diseases. If you start seeing white dots on your succulent, this may be the start of an infestation. In that case, examine it thoroughly for any bugs on the leaves.

Bugs will start noticing the plant the moment the first dead leaf shows up. Succulents often leave dead bottom leaves as part of their growth process (new leaves will come from the top), so you need to remove them as soon as possible.

If it’s too late to prevent the bugs from coming, you can use 70% alcohol or pesticides to drive them away. You’ll only mist the leaves without spraying on the succulent’s roots, so it’s 100% safe for the plant. To the pests, not so much!

4.   No Room for Roots

Oh, look! A cute, little pot for your cute, little succulent! But, is it large enough to accommodate the roots during their growth phase? You need to consider how large your succulent pot should be.

Succulents die when their roots fail to spread out enough for them to get a grasp of the soil. These roots carry nutrients and minerals to up the leaves. Water also travels to your plant through its roots. So, a bad system of roots will cause the succulent to look unhealthy and eventually die.

On top of that, the roots will eventually grow enough to block the pot’s drainage holes. That’ll cause the water to collect inside and cause even more damage.

How to Know If Your Pot’s Size Is Alright

If you suspect that your succulents may not be getting enough room, just look at the pot. If the roots are peeking from the soil or the drainage holes, you should find a larger pot for it.

Succulents have a shallow yet wide root system. A deeper pot won’t do any good—the soil will only collect excess water. So, it’s better to go for a wider pot.

5.   Bad Soil

Soil prep and fertilizer

Your succulent baby may be suffering from its closest friend: the soil.

Succulents retain a lot of water in their bodies to survive, so their soil needs to fully dry first before the next watering session, or else the water will collect inside. That may mislead you to think you’re overwatering the plant when you’re actually giving it only what it needs.

Moreover, if the soil gets compacted due to moisture, the roots of your succulent may get damaged. Succulent roots are fragile and highly prone to breaking, and if they get crushed by the soil, your plant will eventually die from not getting nutrients and water.

The proper soil for your succulent should have a mix of pumice or perlite in it. If your soil is not meeting the requirements, it’s time to replant your succulents in a new mix.

Save the Succulent!

Succulents may be easy to take care of, but just like any other plant, there are factors that you need to watch out for to keep them alive.

Succulents will die if you expose them to too much water or sun. Additionally, if there’s a pest infestation you don’t know about, you may discover it when it’s too late to save the plant.

Even the wrong kind of soil or a cramped space can cause irreversible damage to your plant.

These plants may be drought tolerant and can go for weeks without water, but when it comes to their roots, they’re as fragile as they come. If you constantly check them for pests and make sure the drainage holes are working, you have nothing to worry about.