Succulent Leaves Curling Down: Causes and Treatments

Succulent Leaves Curling Down
Succulent Leaves Curling Down

Succulent leaves curling down, what you can do to fix them? Seeing a succulent plant in this situation you can easily say that there is something wrong going on. In this post, I will share the causes and treatments you can do to save your succulent plants.

Although succulents are easy to care and grow, they are vulnerable to many conditions. Because they are native to semi-desert areas, many people think that these plants can survive in whatever growing strategies or environment they are in.

But the truth is succulents have certain and specific needs. If they don’t get what they need, you’ll start to notice some changes including the curling of their leaves.

Why succulent leaves curling down?

When succulents’ leaves curl down, they might be suffering from any of the following:

  • Overwatering
  • Under watering
  • Too little sunlight exposure
  • Too much sunlight exposure

Any of these factors are detrimental to the succulents’ overall health. The good news is that there are easy and quick steps you can do to fix your succulent plants.


Overwatering is one of the worst enemies of succulent plants. In fact, it is the best way to kill them. If they are exposed to too much water and moisture, the stem, leaves, and roots will rot. This is one of the causes of why succulents’ leaves are curling down.

In severe cases, overwatered succulent plant is often more difficult to fix than the underwatered ones. But this does not mean that depriving your succulent plants with water is good. Underwatering too is detrimental to succulent plants. Let’s talk about it later.

Fortunately, overwatering can be fixed if you know what is going early on. There are simple and quick steps you can do to save your plants.

Overwatering is caused by too much water and moisture. So to reduce this incidence, you need to reduce the amount of water your plants are receiving.

Doing so involves reducing the watering frequency too. I suggest that you do not follow a fixed watering schedule for your succulents. Follow what the plants’ needs, not your calendar.

That said, I would suggest that you water the soil every time it dries. I recommend the soak and dry method. This strategy is pretty straight forward. When you water succulents, make sure that you soak the soil (not the plant) and let the extra water drains. Then water again once the soil dries.

If your succulent plants are already suffering from overwatering, the quickest way is to change the soil in the pot. If possible, change the pot too. Then repot the plant. This way you can easily control and fix the water supply.

From then on, be mindful when watering your succulent plants. Again, the safest way is to use the soak and dry method. This technique works for me both for my indoor and outdoor succulents.

Under watering

Underwatering is another threat to succulents. Like overwatering, giving too little water to succulent plants is also detrimental to their growth. It causes the leaves to curl down.

But unlike overwatering, under watering is much easier to fix. It commonly happens during summer when the inside and outside humidity is very low. In this instance, the moisture or water in the soil evaporates faster.

As mentioned, under watering is much easier to treat than the overwatered succulents. You just need to increase the amount of water and the watering frequency for your plants. Again, it is better if you use the soak and dry method.

Just make sure that, when giving more water to your succulent plants, the excess water is drained. Although the summer season is hot, the stored water in the pot can still cause overwatering.

This is the reason why I always use pots with drainage holes. There are a lot of options when it comes to choosing the best pot for your succulent plants.

What I recommend is choose the one that has both aesthetic quality and good functionality.

Too little sunlight exposure

Apart from over and under watering, sunlight also influences the growth of the succulent plants. In fact, one of the reasons why the succulents’ leaves are curling down is too little sunlight exposure.

Remember that succulent plants are native to semi-desert areas. This means that they are getting direct or indirect bight light in their natural habitat and they are accustomed to it.

So when you bring them in your garden or inside the house, you need to provide them enough sources of sunlight.

Too little sunlight exposure always happens to those succulents indoor. Of course, the light is limited inside. To allow your succulent plants to absorb light is to place them near the window. Choose the one that has a longer sunlight exposure in the morning. This is because not all windows have sunlight access.

During winter, when sunlight is much more limited, it will be more challenging to grow succulents inside. In this case, I like to use grow lights for my succulents during cold seasons. Grow lights offer more functionalities including light and heat control.

Aside from growing lights, you can also use fluorescent lamps if you don’t want to spend money on grow lights. It could also provide an artificial source of light capable of giving your succulent light to survive indoor during winter.

Too much sunlight exposure

If less exposure to sunlight detriments the growth of the succulents, so does overexposure. When succulents are exposed to the scourging sun, they can get sunburned which in turn causes the succulents’ leaves to curl down.

This problem is pretty common in the summer season when humidity is low. Because succulents are from semi-desert areas, many people think that these plants could survive under the direct sunlight.

Well, that is not entirely true. I used to believe in that wrong perception of the reason why I lost many of my succulent plants in the beginning.

The truth is that succulents need sunlight but not too much of it. What I like to do with my succulents is to give them 4-6 hours of sunlight exposure in the morning and give them shade in the afternoon as soon as the sun gets hotter.

What I found is that succulents love bright indirect sunlight. Some varieties though are more tolerant of direct sunlight than others. Examples of those are Cotyledons, Agave Parryi, Echeveria Agavoides, Sedum copper stone, Lampranthus- Vygies, etc.

But generally, most succulents are not hardy. They can easily get sunburned if they remained in direct sunlight long. So it is better to provide them shade, especially during summer.

Final Thoughts on Why Succulent Leaves Curling Down

When the leaves of your succulent plants are curling down, there must be a problem. Some factors that might have caused are over and under watering, too much or too little sunlight exposure.

When you notice the curling, examine which of these factors might have caused. It is better when you notice it early on to fix the problem more easily. Severe damages may be difficult or even impossible to treat.

The key here is prevention. Give your succulent plants what they need to avoid this problem from happening.

I hope you get something helpful from this post. If you learn more about how to correctly grow succulents, you can read my complete guide here.

Happy planting!


I am a university teacher by profession, researcher, blogger, and gardener.

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