A popular choice for a low maintenance houseplant, it is widely believed that anyone can grow and care for a succulent successfully. Although they are easy to care for, some people, especially nervous or inexperienced growers, may panic and start to worry if their plant starts to look sick.
A dying or diseased-looking succulent can be caused by a number of different reasons. Many of them are not only easy to identify, but also to rectify. Learning how to save your dying succulent means that you will be able to enjoy many years to come with your special specimen.
This article will explain the most common causes of succulent death and provide helpful tips on how to fix, cure, or even prevent the problem.
A popular choice of houseplant, a dying succulent can be caused by a number of factors.
- 1 Problems caused by an incorrect watering routine
- 2 Withered or dying leaves
- 3 A succulent dying because of problems with its pot
- 4 A succulent dying because it’s too cold or too dark
- 5 Plants that need to be repotted or that are too cramped
- 6 Problems caused by plants sitting in poor soil
Problems caused by an incorrect watering routine
One of the most common causes of succulent death or ill health is an incorrect watering routine. Giving plants too much or too little moisture can cause problems.
Knowing how often to water a houseplant can be difficult, but once you establish the ideal routine, your plants will start to thrive. To help you, try keeping track, either on your phone or with a good old pen and paper, how often you water the plants. In addition to recording when, write down how much water you give each plant.
If you still don’t know when to water, why not try using a moisture meter? Many, like the Gouevn moisture meter, are suitable for both indoor and outdoor plants. They provide an accurate and easy to use way to monitor the moisture content of your soil.
Signs that you are overwatering your plants
Some specimens, like echeverias, are more susceptible to overwatering than others. Take the time to research the likes and dislikes of your plant.
The first signs of overwatering include the foliage that comes off the plant easily. For example, rubbing against the plant causes one or more leaves to drop. A black stem or spots appearing on the stem and leaves are also an indication that you are overwatering your plants.
Another indication that you are overwatering your plant is dead foliage at the top of the plant, especially new growth. Dead foliage can also be a sign of underwatering or soil problems, which will be discussed later in the article.
Transparent yellow foliage, or if the foliage is soft and soggy, are all sure signs that you are overwatering your plants.
If the stem has turned black or the plant is overwatered, allow the soil to dry out completely before watering again. These specimens can survive 3 to 7 days without water, especially if they have been watered heavily before.
In severe cases, you may need to cut off the top of the plant. If there are a number of black dots, cut off the affected leaves. Treat the cut top part like a cutting, allowing it to dry out for a few days before propagating into cool soil. The original lower part of the plant can also recover, if the soil is allowed to dry out completely.
If your overwatered rotten plant is okay with other plants, you may need to dig it up to prevent other specimens from developing similar problems.
Finally, if overwatering is a common problem, try repotting your plants in a better-draining soil mixture and make sure the containers have plenty of drainage holes at the bottom.
Overwatering can be a much more common cause of succulent death, but many specimens such as Senecio haworthii are also prone to developing watering problems. These plants like to be watered more frequently than other specimens.
The clearest sign that your plant is underwater is that the upper leaves are drying out and wrinkling or becoming crisp.
It is usually easier to save thirsty plants than overwatered specimens. A little extra water and the faster recover. However, if your plant’s foliage is completely shriveled, it is unlikely to recover.
If you find that a lot of your plants are suffering from watering, completely soak the soil every time you water. I find the immersion technique to be the best way to ensure that my plants are completely watered. To do this, put the plants in a bowl or sink. Add water until the water level is halfway up the container. Let the plants sit in the water for 30 minutes or until the soil appears moist. Once the soil is completely moist, remove the plants from the water. Let the excess water drain off before returning the plants to their usual position.
Withered or dying leaves
Dried or dying foliage is often mistakenly viewed by many as a sign of the succulent’s death. However, this is not necessarily the case. As we have already seen, changes in the appearance of the plant’s foliage can be a sign of over or underwatering.
Once you’ve settled on the watering routine, drying out the foliage may be a sign of a larger problem, or it may just be part of the plant’s natural life cycle. Browning of the foliage and dropping of the plant can be a concern for novice gardeners, but it is rarely a cause for concern. It is certainly not the sign of a succulent death.
The lower leaves are drying out, but the rest of the plant looking otherwise healthy, probably means the plant needs a little more water. As the plants grow and the foliage ripens higher, the plant can also be a sign that the plant needs more water. Unsightly brown leaves can be pulled from the plant and disposed of.
The condition of the foliage tells you how healthy your plant is.
A succulent dying because of problems with its pot
Choosing the right container helps ensure your plant has a long and happy life.
Some people like to put their plants in attractive or unconventional containers such as tea cups. While these may look pretty, they often don’t offer the depth the roots need to thrive. For the vast majority of succulents, the container should be twice as deep as the roots and at least three times as wide. This gives your plant plenty of room to propagate and flourish.
Regardless of the size of the container, it should always have plenty of drainage holes to allow excess water to escape. Sometimes the drainage holes can get clogged, placing a little trellis or a layer of gravel can prevent soil from blocking the holes.
Some plants can struggle if they are planted in a pot that is too deep. This can cause the water to flow quickly to the bottom of the pot, away from the roots before they have a chance to absorb enough moisture. So even if your watering routine is perfect, the plant can still be overwhelmed.
A succulent dying because it’s too cold or too dark
The majority of these plants like hot weather. A dying or struggling succulent may be due to being too cold or drafty. Try to place them in a place that is always warm. Keep these plants away from cooling vents or drafty windows.
Ideally, your plant should receive 6 hours of light per day. If you’re struggling to provide enough natural light, why not use grow lights?
Most specimens like to be in a warm, bright position.
Plants that need to be repotted or that are too cramped
Like other plants, succulents grow naturally and fill the space around them. Allowing plants to sit too long in a pot, become tied to the pot, or planting a number of specimens too close to each other so that they become cramped and overcrowded can both be the cause of succulent death. .
Some people like to grow a collection of plants nearby, like in a terrarium. However, the desire to fill a space can cause people to plant too many specimens in a small space. While young specimens may appear small and too far apart, remember that over time they will grow larger, expanding naturally and filling space. Depending on the variety, each specimen should be spaced at least 2-3 inches apart.
If the plant has been in its container for several months, it may require repotting. This gives it more room to grow, preventing it from becoming cramped and potty bound. Repotting is also a great time to propagate new plants.
Don’t let the plants get too cramped or tied to the pot.
Problems caused by plants sitting in poor soil
Succulents love nutrient rich soils. When planting, add a little organic matter to further enrich the soil mixture. Making your own potting soil is also a great way to give plants a boost of healthy nutrients.
Allowing plants to sit too long in the same soil, especially without other amendments such as fertilizers, can result in the soil draining of all of its nutritional value. This, in turn, causes the plants to struggle or fail. Regular amendment of the soil, fertilization of growing plants and repotting helps prevent this.
Easy to care for, a dying or struggling succulent can be of concern. However, with just a little bit of time and care on your part, you can easily identify the causes of your succulent’s death and take action to save it, ensuring many years of enjoyment.