Succulent Leaves Pointing Down: Causes and Treatments

Succulent Leaves Pointing Down
Hey there! Some links on this page are affiliate links which means that, if you choose to make a purchase, I may earn a small commission at no extra cost to you. I greatly appreciate your support!

Succulent Leaves Pointing Down

Why succulent leaves pointing down? What causes this issue and how you can treat it? In this post, I will share with you the answers to these questions.

For years of growing succulents, I have seen many issues with my plants. One of them is the leaves curling down. If you grow succulents for a period of time, you might also have seen this problem.

So, why do succulent leaves pointing down?

There are three main reasons why succulent leaves curl down and these are water, light, and soil issues. An inappropriate amount of water, light, and inappropriate type of soil affects the health of succulent plants.

Although succulents are often regarded as versatile and require less care, they are pretty susceptible to diseases when not given their needs. Their basic necessities are enough amount of water, enough sunlight exposure, and correct soil mix.

Here are the things you need to remember to avoid succulent leaves from pointing down.

1. Appropriate Amount of Water

Succulents are native to semi-desert areas. Because of their place of origin, they develop an ability to store water in their leaves and stems. This allows them to survive in drought and neglect.

But this ability can also be their weakness. Because succulents already have water in their tissues, they are vulnerable to overwatering. When exposed to too much water, they could suffer from root rot.

I killed many of my succulents back when I started growing these plants. I had no idea that too much water won’t help succulents. Instead, succulents should be given just enough amount of water to survive.

But how much is enough? This is a tricky question. If you are a beginner, this can cause you headaches. The truth is that growing succulents need a lot of trial and error.

When it comes to watering, you will find the perfect watering strategy as you go along. If you are searching online, you might already have familiar with many watering methods being introduced.

But the best watering method that works all the time with my succulent plants is the soak and dry method. This watering technique involves soaking the soil and allowing it to completely dry before watering the plants again.

This strategy keeps the succulent plants safe from root rot.

Giving Too Much Water

As mentioned, succulents already have water reserved in their leaves and stems. Thus, giving too much water will cause them problems. In fact, overwatering is one of the most common reasons why succulent leaves point down.

In extreme cases, overwatering kills succulent plants. When the leaves of your succulent plants start to point down instead of upward, there is a high chance that it is caused by overwatering.

Below is the list of symptoms that overwatered succulents will show:

  • Succulent leaves pointing down
  • Leaves become soft and mushy
  • Leaves tend to develop lighter color
  • With a light touch, leaves drop easily

The curling of leaving in overwatered succulents usually starts at the bottom. The best thing you can do in this case is to check the moisture of the soil. If the soil is too moist, you can repot the plant.

Prepare a well-draining soil and a pot with a drainage hole. Take the soil out of the roots of the overwatered succulent. Then plant it into the new pot.

Giving Too Little Water

Another reason why succulent leaves pointing down is under-watering. Although succulents can survive drought, they cannot survive without water forever. If this condition continues for a long period of time, succulents will die eventually.

Like overwatering, under-watered succulents also show symptoms. Some of them are:

  • Wrinkled leaves
  • Leaves pointing down
  • Grow aerial roots

What I found is that the water need for succulents depends on the season or the climate. Hot or dry seasons require more frequent watering.

By using the soak and dry method, I am able to give my succulent plants the right amount of water without worrying about overwatering.

2. Sunlight Exposure

Succulents need sunlight to grow healthily. These plants are accustomed to bright sunlight in their original habitat – the semi-desert areas.

What this means is that when they are grown at home, they need at least 4-6 hours of sunlight exposure. This duration however may vary depending on the succulent variety you’re growing

Some succulent species need more sunlight than others. What this means is that as a grower, you need to know the sunlight requirement of your succulents. If they do not have access to enough sunlight, succulent leaves tend to point down.

Too much sunlight on the other hand could also affect the health of succulents. So you need to be careful not to give too little or too much sunlight.

Less Sunlight Exposure

Succulents have certain sunlight needs. If that need is not satisfied, they start to show symptoms. This commonly seen in indoor succulents.

If you notice the succulent leaves pointing down, check the soil if it is too moist. Overwatering can also cause this issue. If you see that the soil is not overly wet, then it is not overwatering – it is the lack of sunlight exposure that causes the issue.

If you are dealing with indoor succulents, the quick thing you can do is to place them near the window sill where sunlight is available. However, this option is only viable in summer.

In winter, however, what you can do is to use a grow light for your succulent plants (click here to check my recommended succulent grow light on Amazon). Grow light is the best option as a light source for your plant in the cold season.

If you do not want to spend money on this, you can use a fluorescent lamp instead. Just make sure that you set it right.

Too Much Sunlight Exposure

If not enough sunlight can cause problems to your succulent plants, too much sunlight can also make succulent leaves pointing down. This case is common among succulents with low sunlight requirement. They are more prone to sunburn.

If you are growing succulent outdoors, make sure that they are not exposed to direct afternoon sunlight. In my case, I like to provide shade for my outdoor succulents.

Also, it is better to expose succulents to morning sunlight for about 4-6 hours a day. This is enough for them to absorb just the right amount of sunlight. In the afternoon give them shade to protect them from sunburn.

3. The Type of Soil

Soil plays a very important role in succulents’ health. Remember that they are accustomed to semi-desert soil that holds little moisture. This is the main reason why they do not like regular garden soil.

Instead, they like fast-draining soil – a soil mix that does not absorb and retain too much water or moisture. If planted in inappropriate soil, succulents may develop overwatering-related issues. Root rot is the most common problem in this case.

The best option is to use an especially formulated soil for succulents. The succulent soil mix should provide not only enough nutrition for the plant but also aeration. Succulents need soil that allows them to breathe and comfortably grow.

The good news is that you can buy succulent mix online that you can readily use for your succulents. If you have enough time, you can also make soil for your plants.

Final Thought

There are three main causes of succulent leaves pointing down: the inappropriate amount of water, not enough sunlight exposure, and inappropriate soil. These factors determine the health and life of succulent plants.

For instance, too much or too little water will negatively affect succulents’ growth. Underwatering and overwatering will potentially cause death to any succulent plants.

Insufficient sunlight exposure will also cause harm to succulents. Too little or too much of it is equally harmful.

Lastly, inappropriate soil can also cause problems to succulent plants. Succulents need fast-draining soil that provides both enough nutrition and aeration.

If you want to keep your succulent plant safe from any growth issues, you need to consider these factors. You can use the suggestions in this post to successfully grow your succulent plants.

If you want to learn more about caring, read this complete guide on growing succulents.


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

Recent Content