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Seeing a succulent plant in this condition, you can easily say that there is something wrong going on. In this post, I will explain what causes this phenomenon, and also you can effectively treat it and save your succulent plants from dying.

Many people think that succulent plants can survive anything, considering that the plants come from semi-desert areas, and can sustain a lot of heat, wind, etc. The truth is thought that even succulents have their specific needs. If they don’t get what they need, you’ll start to notice some changes including the curling of their leaves. Let’s have a look at major causes.

Four main causes of leaves curling down

In 99% of cases, one of the following four reasons is to blame. We will elaborate on each one later on, explaining how you can remedy it.

  • Over-watering – the number one reason
  • Under watering – no. 2 reason
  • Too little sunlight exposure – no. 3 reason
  • Too much sunlight exposure – no. 4 reason

Now you know what can be the issue, let’s have a look at it in more detail, including the fixes.

Over watering as a most common mistake of succulent growers

Over-watering is the best way to kill succulent plants. 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 may start curling down–the plant is rotting and slowly dying.

In severe cases, it is harder to treat over-watered succulent than the under-watered ones. Fortunately, you can fix over-watering easily, especially when you notice early something is going on.Here’s what you should do.

First of all, reduce the watering frequency I suggest that you do not follow a fixed watering schedule for your succulents. Follow what the plants’ needs, not your calendar. That being said, I you to water the soil every time it dries, following the soak and dry method. This strategy is pretty straight forward to be honest. When you water succulents, make sure that you soak the soil (not the plant) and let the extra water drains. Just then you should water it again.

If your succulent plants are already suffering from over-watering, the quickest remedy is to change the soil in the pot. If possible, change the pot too. It is a quick fix that can sometimes save the plant from dying.

Too little water can be blamed for leaves curling

Life’s not always simple. Sometimes we give our beloved plants too much water, other times we give them too little. Lack of water causes the leaves to curl down, not only in succulents, but in most plants in general.

Unlike over-watering, 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, and your regular watering schedule may simply not be appropriate. I such a case you simply need to increase the amount of water, and the watering frequency for your plants.

Just make sure that the excess water is drained. Although the summer season is hot, the stored water in the pot can still cause over-watering, regardless of the season. This is the reason why I always use pots with drainage holes-such as this one from Amazon–simple yet beautiful (* please note that this is an affiliate link, if you buy the pot I may earn a small commission–a few cents–at no extra cost to you).


Lacking sun

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 sunlight. Too little sun exposure always happens to 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 these powerful grow lights for my succulents during cold seasons. They offer more functionality, including light and heat control, and can really help the grower of succulents. Check out the reviews and see for yourself!

Extreme sun can also kill the plant

When succulents are exposed to scorching 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 will survive under any amount of direct sunlight.

Well, that is not entirely true. I used to believe in this as well, and lost many of my succulent plants because of my mistakes. The truth is that succulents need sunlight but not too much of it. Four to six hours a day will do. You can either move your plants around (if you have time for it and are at home), or you can simply place them in a location where they naturally get the desired mount of sunlight, and not more than that.

What I have learned over the years is that succulents love bright indirect sunlight. Some varieties though are more tolerant to direct sunlight than others. Examples of these are Cotyledons, Agave Parryi, Echeveria Agavoides, Sedum copper stone, Lampranthus- Vygies, etc. Generally speaking though, most succulents can get sunburned if they remain in direct sunlight too long. Keep it on your mind when deciding about their placement.


Final Thoughts

When the leaves of your succulent plants are curling down, you know something is wrong. In 99% of cases, you plants suffer from either over or under watering, or too much or too little sunlight exposure.

When you notice the curling, think about the plant, check the soil, consider the placement and your watering schedule, and try to find the culprit. The earlier you notice it, the easier it will be to fix the issue. The key is prevention. Give your succulent plants what they need, and you won’t see their leaves turning yellow or curling down…. Happy growing and do not forget to check my complete guide on succulent growing here.