Succulent Leaves Soft and Wrinkly: Causes and Treatments

Succulent Leaves Soft and Wrinkly
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Succulent Leaves Soft and Wrinkly

When succulent leaves become soft and wrinkly, it means that something is not right. In this post, let’s talk about the causes and remedies you can do to fix this problem.

When succulent leaves become soft and wrinkly, it means that your plants are suffering from a serious health issue. In most cases, it suggests that succulents are hurt.

So, what happened when succulent leaves become soft and wrinkly?

Based on my experience, the main cause why succulent leaves become soft and wrinkly is overwatering. When succulents are overwatered, their leaves become mushy and wrinkled. Underwatering can also cause wrinkling of the leaves. To resolve this issue, you need to see what possibly caused the problem.

For many years of growing succulents, I learned that watering is both important and dangerous to these plants. They need water but also they can easily get hurt when overwatered.

Needless to say that you need to be very careful when watering your succulent plants. I want to share with you some of the things you need to consider to keep your succulent plants safe and thriving.

1. Succulents are Vulnerable to Root Rot

One of the things you need to remember to keep them safe is the fact that they are prone to overwatering. When exposed to too much moisture, they can quickly rot.

The main reason for this is that succulents have stored water in their leaves and stems. This allows them to survive in drought and neglect.

This is a good reminder that succulent plants should not be overwatered. Although they already have water in their leaves and stems, they tend to absorb more water (when water is available) which will, in turn, cause them problems.

To keep succulents healthy, make sure that you don’t give them water more than they need. I suggest that you only water when the soil is dry. Soak the soil and let the excess water drain.

Make sure that succulents are planted in a fast-draining soil specifically created for succulents. Succulent soil mix provides good aeration and drainage. It only retains just enough moisture that is needed by the plants.

2. Succulents are Resilient to drought

You do not need to water succulents daily. Frequent watering can only harm the plants than bringing them good. Succulents are native to semi-desert areas. Thus, they are accustomed to less water which makes them resilient to drought.

Succulents can survive for weeks without water especially in colder months. During the hot season, however, they need more water. But they are not like other plants that needed to be watered every day.

The most common watering practice is once every week or two weeks. This depends on the climate. But the most effective for me is the use of the soak and dry watering method.

This means that you only water succulents when the soil is dry. When watering, make sure that the soil is completely soaked. Let the excess water drain. Then water again once the soil is dry.

3. Succulent Plants Do Not Always Need Water

The water needs of succulent plants depend on the season. For instance, in summer, the hot climate makes succulents crave more water. During this season they gain growth momentum.

However, during winter, succulents are dormant. They are not actively growing resulting in less required water.

To keep succulent plants safe from overwatering, you need to remember these facts. Refrain from frequent watering during winter because it can only cause harm to the succulent plants.

4. Underwatering Can Also Negatively Affect Succulents

When succulents received little or no water at all, their leaves tend to develop brown spots. The leaves may also turn brittle, shriveled, and harder. This means that although succulents have reserved water in their system, they still need an appropriate amount of water.

The good thing is that underwatered succulents are easier to save than overwatered ones. You can easily fix underwatered succulents by giving them water. Saving an overwatered succulent, on the other hand, is a whole different story.

How to Save An Overwatered Succulent?

When your succulents are overwatered, you need to do something to fix it immediately. As mentioned, it is more complicated than saving the underwatered ones.

Here are the things you can do:

1. Remove the Succulents from the Sun

Although sunlight can help evaporate the water in the soil, it can increase the stress of the plant. Also, most succulent varieties do not like direct sunlight. So they better be in the shade while fixing the overwatering issue.

2. Give the Roots Good Aeration

The next thing you can do is to allow the roots to breathe. You do this by removing the stuck soil from the roots. If you notice rotten roots, remove them. Then allow the roots to dry on a mesh or strainer for a couple of days. As soon as the roots dry, replant the succulents.

3. Change the Soil

If the existing soil is too wet, do not reuse it. I suggest that you change the soil before replanting the succulents. For better results, use fast-draining soil created for succulents.

Succulent soil mix provides both aeration and drainage to the succulent plants making them safe from overwatering. You can make your own or buy it online.

4. Change the Pot

Overwatering usually occurs when you used a pot without a drainage hole. What happens is that the excess water during watering will be stored at the bottom of the pot. This will in turn cause root rot to the succulent plants.

If your succulents are overwatered, there is a high chance that the post does not provide good drainage. I recommend that you change the pot. Use a pot that has a drainage hole.

In most cases, both soil and pot are changed to fix an overwatered succulent. Once you noticed the overwatered symptoms, make sure that you immediately fix them.

Once the issue becomes worse, it will more difficult to fix. This is the reason why most overwatered succulents are difficult to save.

Final Thoughts

When succulent leaves turned soft and wrinkly, it means that the plants suffered from some health issues. And one of the most common causes is overwatering.

The good news is that you can avoid this from happening. All you need to do is to understand the nature of the succulent plants. Understand and learn when these plants need more water and when they aren’t.

Cold and warm seasons determine the water needs of succulents. During summer they tend to drink more this is because they are actively growing in this season.

In contrast, during winter they need less water because they are dormant. Be careful not to give them too much water during this season. Thus, understanding the needs of the succulent plants often save them from harm.

I hope this helps. Thank you for reading.


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

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