Why Are the Leaves Falling Off My Succulents? 8 Probable Reasons and Solutions

It’s every succulent lover’s instinct to keep their beautifully hued plant in a healthy condition. So when the plant randomly reduces its leaves, they can’t help but be concerned: why are the leaves falling off my succulents?

Excessive watering, exposure to extreme heat, and inadequate sunlight are the common culprits. These unfavorable conditions put your succulents under stress and as a result, the leaves drop off. Yet, this phenomenon can also occur when the plant needs to save energy.

It’s vital that you identify the most probable reason why leaves are falling off your succulents as it’ll help you jump to the right solution. Thus, to help you figure out the culprit, we’ve listed all the possible causes and the remedy for each, so keep reading!

1. The Plant Is Adjusting to a New Environment

While various factors can cause leaves to fall off your succulent, you should consider first the natural process this plant needs to go through.

For instance, when it’s newly planted, the leaves below the plant will turn yellow or brown and will start to drop. This isn’t harmful since the plant is basically disposing of older leaves to conserve energy and adjust to the new environment.

Remedy

This normally happens with newly planted succulents and so there’s nothing to worry about. Just continue observing if the issue persists and be mindful of other possible causes.

2. Excessive Watering

Watering Succulents 1

Most succulents are CAM plants—plants that have high water-use-efficiency and high drought resistance.

As such, you don’t need to water your succulents daily. There isn’t a universal time rule for watering the succulent, but it’s advisable to do it once the soil has completely run dry.

If the leaves look transparent or yellowish and feel soggy to the touch, then it’s a sign that you’ve over-watered your plant. This causes the leaves to drop more often than they should.

Remedy

Once you’ve noticed the symptoms early on, immediately stop giving your plant a drink. Wait for days until the soil dries completely.

However, to prevent the condition from getting worse—especially when two or more leaves have turned yellow, you can transfer the plant into dry soil. Make sure that the new pot has holes to allow good drainage too.

From then on, only water your succulents whenever the soil is bone dry.

3. Under Watering

Succulents also have a tendency to drop their leaves when watered poorly. They’ll look weak and will fall off at the subtlest touch.

Remedy

When deprived of water for too long, the problem may not be remedied by watering. Yet, if your plant isn’t completely dehydrated, it may still have hopes of recovering.

Just give it a good soak first. Then, make sure to water it again each time the soil turns completely dry.

Related: Why Are My Succulents Turning Yellow?

4. Exposure to Intense Heat

Dropping leaves is the succulent plants’ natural response to intense heat and drought. They do this to reduce the consumption of water in their body during extended days of high temperatures.

Remedy

During intense heat waves, you should transfer your small succulent to a less sunny location. Make sure that the temperature and condition in the new environment aren’t too far off from the previous one so your plant can adjust easily.

For succulents that are planted in the ground and/or impossible to move, you may use a shade cloth or a plant cover.

You may also have to increase the watering during extreme heat conditions. This is because the soil gets dry easily and you want to make sure that your succulents won’t get dehydrated.

It’s important to note that during prolonged heat waves, you shouldn’t do anything that can add to your plants’ stress. In a nutshell, it’s not advisable to repot, propagate, or fertilize succulents in harsh conditions where their focus would be on surviving rather than growing.

5. Exposure to Extreme Cold

Fallen succulents leaf

Hardy succulents can tolerate cold. However, soft succulents hardly ever do. Exposure to freezing temperatures often causes the plants to die and the leaves to turn black before falling.

The succulents that manage to survive will be under stress, but will soon generate new leaves.

Remedy

During winter, you can cover the outdoor succulents to protect them from low temperatures. For indoor succulents, on the other hand, you can keep them away from areas that receive cold blasts of air.

6. Not Receiving Enough Sunlight

Another reason the leaves are falling off your succulent is the lack of light. Most succulents love to stay under bright, direct sunlight. Failure to meet this condition will lead to your plant’s stress.

If your succulent plant isn’t getting enough light, it’ll stretch out and grow sideways. Leggy stem/leaves and stunted growth are also indicative of this cause.

Remedy

If you’ve identified this as the reason, you’ll have to bring your succulent plant to a bright location. To prevent your plant from getting burned, you have to acclimate your plant first to the sudden change in the environment.

For an hour, you can place your plant in an area where it’ll receive bright indirect sunlight. Do this each day until the plant has fully adjusted. Then, gradually increase the light exposure before settling it to a brighter spot. This will prevent your plant from getting burnt.

In case there isn’t enough natural light in your area, especially during winter, you can place the plant under grow lights to supplement its needed light. Note that most succulent plants need four to six hours of bright sunlight each day or 12 hours of grow lights.

7. Too Much Fertilizer or Nutrients

Using fertilizer

Putting too much fertilizer can cause your succulent to grow weak. Eventually, it’ll result in leaves falling off and the discoloration of the remaining ones. Worst, this may burn the roots and cause your plant to die.

The rationale is that too many nutrients, especially excessive nitrogen, can rot the roots and cause problems with the leaves.

Remedy

You can avoid further damage by removing the white crusts on top of the soil. Flushing the soil with water and letting it flow out of the container will also help remove the excess fertilizers.

To prevent this problem from occurring in the future, only fertilize your succulents during their growing season—once a month or once every two months.

8. Fungal Infections

Fungal infections occur when the plant is exposed to high humidity or too much moisture. The fungus can take on different forms, such as dark spots, sooty mold, white powdery substance, and more. This can cause the roots to rot and the leaves to droop and drop off, eventually.

Two of the most common fungus that results in leaves falling off your succulents are:

  • Gray Molds: Gray molds are grayish-brown small masses that form on the surface of succulents. At first, they won’t do any harm to your plant, but as they scatter, they’ll affect the plant’s photosynthesis. The bottom or older leaves will be consumed and will fall off in time.
  • Fusarium Wilt: The pathogen Fusarium Oxysporum is responsible for the heavy stress, reduced leaves, wilting, and even death of succulents. Once this fungus enters the roots of the plant, it’ll soon block the tissues and prevent the plant from transporting water.

Remedy

A fungus infection is often incurable and contagious. To prevent it from further damaging your plants, cut the infected areas with a sanitized knife and spray the wounds with diluted alcohol or fungicide. You can use a Copper fungicide as it’s recommended by experienced growers.

Spray it on the affected parts as well as on the pot. Then, place it somewhere it can get good ventilation.

Also Check: Why Are My Succulents Turning Red?

Conclusion

Now that we’ve laid the answer to why are the leaves falling off my succulents, it’s time to work on the conditions our plant will be happy with. Water the succulents whenever the soil gets bone dry and expose them to bright sunlight for about four to six hours each day.

Remember to place your plant in areas where it won’t be subjected to too much heat or too much cold. Lastly, prevent fungal infections and possible burns by using the right amount of fungicide and fertilizer.