I have received emails from my fellow succulent lovers about their succulents dying. The common reasons for the death of their plants are either over-watering or under-watering. If you over or under-water your succulents, you’ll likely notice your plants dying.
Other common causes of succulents’ wilting are too much or too little sun exposure, and lack or excess of fertilizer. Any of these will potentially harm succulents.
So, how to revive succulents? There is no single remedy but the common practice is keeping a close monitoring on the plants’ needs. To revive succulents, adjust the amount of water, sun exposure, and fertilizer application.
Succulents are pretty versatile. Some of them can survive in extreme environmental conditions. But some varieties couldn’t. Oftentimes, the threats to the health of succulents are over and under-watering.
In addition, the amount of fertilizer they receive could also affect their growth. If your succulents are dying, it is highly likely that one of these causes the problem.
Fortunately, there are available ways on how you can revive your succulents. If your succulents are dying, then this guide is for you.
In this post, I will be sharing some of the useful tips you can use to revive your plants. Since I don’t really know what causes the problem, I can only give you hints.
From my hunches, kindly check your plants if any of my assumptions is correct. If so, then try to control the dying process by taking control of the causes.
I hope that through my suggestions, you’ll be able to figure out effective actions. Here are the common causes of succulents’ death and the tips you can do.
Table of Contents
1. Nutrients and Care
Because succulents are some of the most versatile plants, many people think that these plants can survive alone without care. But it is definitely not true.
Succulents are like any plants – they need care and enough nutrient source. They have indeed specific needs that most plants don’t. This means that depriving succulents with needs will result in poor growth.
When you see succulents start to droop, it is a clear indication that something is wrong. And one of the common causes of drooping is poor care and lack of nutrient source.
If you notice your succulents wilting, check if you give them the right type of soil. Change the soil if necessary.
2. Under and Over-watering
Another misconception that most people have about succulents is that they think succulents need more water. The truth is that succulents will die if given too much water.
Succulents’ uniqueness resides in their ability to store water in their stems and leaves. The stored water will then retrieve during long drought making them able to survive for several days and weeks without water.
But overwatering succulents may also result in devastating outcomes. In most cases, overwatered succulents turned into mushy and soft. If left untreated, succulents will rot. This is an indication that the plant is submerged in water.
Over and under-watering have both negative impacts on succulents’ health and growth. If you start seeing succulents drooping, puckering, or change their colors, watering may have caused the issue.
This means that succulents do need enough amount of water. Not less, not more – just the appropriate amount.
But how much is an appropriate water amount? Well, the answer to this depends on the number of factors. The climate or season is one of the most influencing factors on the amount of and the frequency of watering.
This is because succulents do not need a lot of water during winter and colder seasons as opposed to summer or hotter months. Thus, the amount of water and the watering frequency may greatly vary depending on the seasons.
Another factor is sun exposure. Outdoor succulents may need more water than the indoor ones. This is because the outdoor temperature is a lot hotter than inside. As a result, water evaporates almost automatically.
To avoid overwatering, use the soak and dry watering method. This technique involves soaking the roots with water and let the soil dries. The next watering should be when the soil is dry.
How to revive over-watered succulents?
Over-watering causes a lot of problems for succulents. The worst effect is rotting. Rotting is the process of decay leading to the death of leaves and stems.
It is normal to see dead leaves in plants. This is the natural process of replacing the old leaves with the new ones. But if you see the decay just above the new leaves, it is an indicator that something bad is going on.
Once succulents turn to the transparent state, and the stem feels mushy as you touch it, that’s a strong message that the plants are receiving an excessive amount of water.
Aside from this, black spots on succulents’ leaves and stems are also indicators of over-watering. If this left untreated, succulents cannot be revived.
If you are growing Echeverias, you should be careful because this variety is one of the most sensitive succulents to over-watering.
Over-watered succulents have several indications. Some of them are mushy and soft textures in the leaves and stems.
It is very important that you notice these symptoms before everything becomes too late. What you can immediately do is to lessen the amount of water and the watering frequency.
Another thing you can do is to check whether or not the soil also contributes to the problem. If so, you can change the type of soil you’re using.
Block spots are also indicators of over-watering. As you start seeing them in your plants, I recommend that you cut the affected areas. Then let the plants regain their momentum and hope to grow a new part.
During this process, just apply the soak and dry method. Only water the succulents when the soil is completely dry.
If the plants are lucky enough, they will be just fine a few days later. Just place them in safe areas to let them regain their growth.
Again, it is very important that you see the early signs of over-watering before it destroys your plant. Succulents that are severely damaged by over-watering may not be revived.
How to revive under-watered succulents?
Over-watering is one of the common problems why succulents die. But that’s not the only cause of the problem. On the opposite side of the spectrum, under-watering could also harm the plants.
One of the symptoms of the under-watering is the wrinkling in the leaves of the succulents. If not treated, the leaves become dry and crispy. This is the common scenario when succulents are left unattended for days or weeks.
To revive under-watered succulents, you need to give water immediately as soon as you noticed the symptoms. If the plants are not yet severely damaged, you should see growth improvement within a week or two.
The good news is that reviving an under-watered succulent is much easier than reviving the over-watered ones. In most cases, over-watered succulents die. This is because the leaves and the stems turned soft and mushy. When this happened, it means that the whole plant system is dead.
Whereas the under-watered one, as long as the leaves and stems are not totally dry, you still have hope to revive it. In extreme cases though, when the leaves completely shriveled, succulents will be highly unlikely to recover.
You can read my complete guide on how to grow succulents. In that article, you’ll learn the perfect technique for watering succulents correctly.
Too Much or Too Little Sunlight
Because succulents are native to semi-desert areas, they need more sunlight than other ornamental plants. If they are placed in areas where sunlight is limited, they may develop a problem.
The usual indicator is stretched stems. Succulents tend to lean towards the areas where the light is accessible. The color may change or fade too. This is an indication that the succulents need more sunlight to regain their healthy growth.
To revive the succulents, you need to move them to areas where sunlight is available. This is easy to do with potted succulents. But if you have succulents that are directly planted on the ground, the best option is to give the light a way to reach the plants.
You do this by cutting the blocking branches of the trees. Or, remove the bigger plants that could hinder the light from reaching the smaller succulent plants.
Too much sunlight, though, can harm the succulents too especially those species that are vulnerable to sunburn. If you grow those types of succulents, you better be careful.
Soft succulents may change their color into pale if exposed to direct sunlight. This usually happens when they are suddenly exposed to the sun.
If your succulents start to turn their color into pale, the cause is likely the direct sunlight exposure. So, how to revive succulents in this case? The quick remedy is obviously to provide shade.
For all my succulents, I plant them in pots. I do it for two main reasons; pots add to the aesthetic value of my plants and allow me to move the plants easily.
Fast Draining Soil
As mentioned, succulents have special needs. And one of those needs is fast-draining soil. Yes, that’s right. Remember that succulents are native to semi-desert areas. They like soil that does not retain water much.
If you plant your succulents in compact soil, chances are they don’t grow well and worse they die eventually. This is because compact soil holds water for long which in turn causes rotting.
If you notice your potted succulents start wilting, it is highly likely that it is caused by the poor draining soil. Check if this assumption is correct by watering the succulent. Then observe how fast the water drains.
How to revive succulents planted in a compact soil?
If the soil retains too much water, then you need to repot the plants in the container with a fast-draining soil mix like this one (click here to see the product on Amazon).
For better results, you can add coarse sand or perlite to increase the drainage. A pot with this combination of soil and coarse sand is the best for succulents.
It is true that succulents need a good source of nutrients for them to grow well and healthy. But unlike other plants, succulents don’t like so much nutrient. In fact, they love the less fertile soil.
Indeed, there are succulents that need more fertile soil. But the majority of the species love less nutritious soil to grow. Thus, if you give too much fertilizer, succulents may wilt and die.
So, how to revive succulents in this case? It is simple, regulate or lessen the amount of fertilizer you are applying to the plants. Use a water-soluble fertilizer and apply it to the plant when watering. The best type of fertilizer is the one high in phosphorous.
Protect Succulents from Pests
Although succulents are not vulnerable to pest issues, they can be affected if left unattended. One of the common pest problems is mealybugs.
This commonly happens when succulents are placed in poorly lit areas. The simple solution to this is cotton dipped in alcohol. Wipe this tiny creator with that cotton ball and they’ll be gone.
Other Related Succulent Problems
Over and under-watering are just some of the common problems succulents may have. But there are far more issues than you might ever think.
Some of these are the stretching of the leaves, infestations of bugs, infections, etc. If you have been growing succulents for a while now, you might probably have noticed these issues.
The scary thing for me is seeing the leaves of my succulents wilting and drooping.
Succulent Leaves Drooping: What Happened and What You Can Do?
Wilting is a natural process that takes place in the leaves of many plants. It happens to all types of ornamental plants too.
So seeing a dying leaf should not bother you especially if they are in the bottom portion of the plants. It just means that the succulents are growing and changing the old leaves with the new ones.
However, if the wilting starts at the top, there is probably a problem. There are several known reasons as to why wilting happens.
1. Under and over-watering
As mentioned, the amount of water that the succulents receive determines the growth of the plants. Unfortunately, both under and over-watering could cause a tremendous problem to the succulent plants.
Both under and over-watering have distinctive symptoms (which I already discussed above). Thankfully, you can avoid both problems by using my recommended watering technique – the soak and dry method
In this watering method, the soil is completely soaked with water and let the excess water dry completely before the next watering is given.
Many succulent growers recommend water succulents once a week or month. But the one that works for me all the time is the soak and dry method.
It is very difficult to stay in the fixed watering schedule because of the weather and climate change every now and then. Remember that as the season changes, the ability of soil to retain water also changes.
If you apply the soak and dry method, I recommend that you use a fast and well-draining succulent soil mix. Without this type of soil, the soak and dry method will not work.
And one more thing, it is also very important that you use containers or pots with drainage holes. This ensures that the excess water will be drained leaving only the good amount of moisture needed for succulents’ healthy growth.
2. Extreme Temperature
Although succulents are native to harsh environments, many of these plants can barely survive under extreme conditions. For most succulent varieties, the perfect tolerable temperature is between 65 to 75 degrees Fahrenheit. The extreme temperature that goes beyond these tolerable degrees will detriment most succulents.
Extreme temperatures could potentially cause the succulents’ leaves drooping. The best strategy to avoid this from happening is to transfer the plants to safer areas. You can transfer them indoors during the winter season.
During summer, it is always a good idea to provide shade for the plants. Place them under the shadow of the branches of larger plants. This only works though if succulents are planted in portable containers.
3. Lack of or Too Much Sunlight Exposure
Succulents grow well when given good amount of sunlight. However, too much sunlight exposure will also harm them.
The recommended time exposure would be 4-6 hours a day. In the middle of the afternoon when the sunray is hotter, it is better to give them shade.
This is because although succulents are full sun plants, they can get burned if left unattended under the direct sunlight. If in fact, succulents could easily wilt under direct sun exposure.
If you noticed sunburn, that means that you should minimize sun exposure.
On the other hand, if succulents are deprived of light, they could also wilt and eventually die. The key is to give them enough sun exposure.
During winter, when natural sunlight is not accessible, you can use Grow Light (click here to see this product on Amazon) to provide an artificial source of light.
When the hotter season comes, gradually expose the succulents under the sun. Do not directly place the succulents under the sun because this will kill the plants. The gradual increase in sun exposure can be a perfect strategy.
4. Bacterial Infection
Another reason behind leaves drooping in succulents is a bacterial infection. This usually happens in young succulents. The reason being is that young succulents are vulnerable to pathogens. These pathogens can cause wilting of the succulents’ leaves.
One of the common pathogens is the Ralstonia solanacearum commonly spread out by insects. If the succulents are affected, there will be no known strategy to stop the infection.
So the best line of defense is prevention. And the great way to prevent this from happening is by applying insecticides. This will greatly help to keep the succulents safe from any potential diseases.
What to Do for A Succulent with Droopy Leaves
The first thing you can do is figure out what causes the problem. You do this by monitoring the soil moisture. Insert your finger into the soil. If the soil sticks, it may suggest the reason of droopy leaves is over-watering.
The best thing you can do in this case is, of course, to lessen the water. Adjust the watering schedule and minimize the amount.
However, if you found that the soil is dry, the treatment is to give more water to the succulents. One thing to remember when watering succulents, is that do not pour the water from the top to the bottom of the plant. This will detriment the health of succulents.
When watering, only wet the soil and not the leaves and stem. This keeps the succulents safe from rotting.
Final Thoughts on How to Revive Succulents
Reviving succulents can be done if you notice the disease before it takes a toll. So the key here is prevention. Give more attention to your plants. Attend to their needs such as water, nutrients, sun, and shade.
Successful succulent growing requires effort and care for the plants. Prevention absolutely better than cure when it comes to growing succulents.
I hope that the tips I shared in this post on how to revive succulents will help you a lot in keeping your plants healthy.
For additional information, feel free to visit my Succulents Growing Guide.