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6 Reasons Why Your Succulent Is Dying

by Sofia Lara

It’s easy to fall in love with succulents. They’re beautiful, easy to grow and care for, and the sight of them in your room can brighten up the gloomiest day. That’s why seeing their beloved succulents wither, decompose, and eventually, die is hard for succulent-growers. 

You’ve ticked off the boxes in the Succulent Plant to-do list: Watering, sunlight exposure, fertilizer, succulent pot, and soil.

So why is your succulent dying?

Here are 6 reasons that could explain why your succulent is in poor health and could be close to death.

  1. Overwatering

Do you notice more dead leaves near the areas where there is new growth in the succulent? Do the leaves feel mushy or soggy to the touch? Are the leaves turning yellowish?

If your succulent exhibits any of these three signs, it could be showing signs of overwatering. If you notice the appearance of tiny black spots on its leaves, then your succulent could be in the advanced stages of overwatering.

This means the plant’s roots could be starting to rot. If left untreated, the deterioration of the roots will develop into an infection that can spread throughout the plant. 

When the plant shows visible signs of rotting including discoloration of the leaves, the first thing you should do is to cut off the infected sections of the plant with a pair of sterilized and sharpened garden shears. 

Set aside cuttings or perform a clean pull of the healthy leaves. In many varieties of succulents, you can use the stem cuttings and leaves to propagate new plants. You can also propagate from offsets or pups that appear near the base of the plant.

Once you have removed the infected sections of the plant, gently remove it from the soil and look for roots that have rotted or in the process of deterioration. Use the sterilized pair of garden shears to remove the infected roots. 

Similar to the cuttings and leaves, allow the newly-trimmed succulent to rest and dry out completely. 

Prepare a new pot for the succulent. Make sure it is filled with well-draining soil. Once the succulent has dried out, replant it in fresh soil.

  1. Underwatering

Rescuing a succulent that has not received enough water or under-watered is not as problematic as treating an over-watered succulent. 

You can tell if the succulent is under-watered if the leaves show signs of wrinkling, drying out or feel crispy to the touch. 

In some cases, the leaves stretch outward and up as if they were searching for water. As the leaves continue to stretch, it will become thinner and weaker. The condition whereby the leaves stretch outward due to the absence of water is called etiolation. 

To restore the health of an under-watered succulent, all you have to do is to give it a generous amount of watering. 

The soil should be drenched with water spilling onto the drip tray underneath the pot. In a few days, you will notice the leaves look more plump and perkier than before. 

If the leaves are severely wrinkled and appear drawn out of moisture, it may be too late to save the succulent. 

  1. Not Enough Sunlight

Like other plants, succulents need sunlight to convert the nutrients found in soil into food. Without enough sunlight, the succulent will have limited sources of nutrients. Over time, it will shrivel and die. Succulents also thrive in warm weather. 

You will know right away if the succulent is not getting enough sunlight because the leaves change color. Succulents with bright-colored leaves – orange, red, and yellow – can lose their original color and become dull if they don’t receive enough sun.

Etiolation can also happen to plants that don’t receive enough sunlight. The leaves will stretch out as if yearning for sunlight. 

How much sun is enough? 

For outdoor succulents, place them in an area in the garden that receives up to six hours of morning sunlight. For indoor succulents, place the pot near a window that gets three to six hours of partial or indirect sunlight. 

If the room does not get enough sunlight, you can place the succulent under a Grow Light for up to six hours every day. 

When moving an indoor succulent to an outdoor location, do it gradually. Slowly introduce the succulent to sunlight. Immediate exposure to direct sunlight may lead to sunburn. At all costs, avoid exposing the succulent to the afternoon sun.

  1. Not Using the Right Type of Soil

The best type of soil for succulents is one that is well-draining and encourages air circulation between the roots. Well-draining soil supports the process of evaporation which removes excess moisture much faster. 

Sandy soil and cactus soil are the best choices of soil for your succulent. You can include other ingredients such as pumice, pebbles, rocks, and perlite to further improve the quality of drainage. 

You can also give the succulent fertilizer to boost its nutrition. The ideal time to fertilize succulents is during the growing season which is usually spring. 

Manure tea and diluted fish emulsion are among the recommended types of fertilizer for succulents. Make sure the fertilizer is diluted to only ½ its original strength as stated in the package. 

Fertilize only once during the growing season and again before the succulent goes through a period of dormancy.

  1. Wrong Choice of Container 

Buying the wrong kind of pot can also put the health of your succulent at risk. What should you look for in a succulent pot?

First, there must be a drainage hole that is large enough to allow excess water to flow out of the soil.

Second, choose a material that encourages the natural evaporation of moisture from the soil. The recommended materials for succulent pots are terra cotta and unglazed ceramic.

Third, don’t buy a pot that is too deep. Otherwise, water may tend to collect at the bottom of the pot and make it more difficult for the roots to sip what they need to survive. 

Fourth, when propagating succulents, leave enough space between the leaves or cuttings to allow the roots to grow properly. 

  1. Wrong Type of Succulent

If you want to grow succulents indoors, the best type of succulent to buy are the varieties with dark green leaves. These succulents only need partial and indirect sunlight to survive. 

Succulents with plump and dark green leaves such as the Echeverias also make good indoor plants because they do not require frequent watering. 

As succulents that originate from Mexico, the plump leaves naturally store water to keep the plant hydrated during the hot and dry months.

Succulents that have bright-colored leaves are perfect outdoor plants. Having regular exposure to sunlight will allow these types of succulents to retain their natural colors. 


Succulents need love and care like all living things. They can get sick and die if the symptoms are not immediately identified and treated. If caught in the early stages, the succulent can be cured and continue to live a long and healthy life – in your garden or inside your home.

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