Why are my succulent leaves cracking? Top 3 causes + remedies

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If you are growing succulents for a while now, you have likely encounter this problem. And while it is true that succulents aren’t demanding plants, in some instances, however, they need some type of care and attention. This is true especially when you spot some problem–such as leaves cracking (which means leaves are split-opening), which is always a message from your plant, saying you there’s something wrong, and you need to take action.

One of the most common reasons why succulent leaves are cracking is overwatering. As you know, succulent stems and leaves store water. This is the primary reason why they don’t need as much water as other plant families. What happens is that the excessive amount of water adds to the water already stored in the leaves. When the leaves cannot hold it any longer, simply when their capacity is exceeded, it forces the cells to extend making it split or crack.

What to do when the leaves are cracking?

I guess you know what’s the first step now. Yes, you’re right, it is reducing the amount of water you give your succulents, or actually stopping the watering for a few weeks completely. But it is not as simple as you may think…

Lessening the water may not result in your plant returning to a healthy condition. There are other factors you need to consider. For instance, you need to make sure that the succulent is planted in fast-draining soil. If you regularly read this blog, you are already familiar with my dogma when it comes to choosing the best soil for succulent plants. I only recommend a soil mix that does a pretty good job when it comes to draining the excess water during the watering (check my recommended soil on Amazon). Anyway, the top two remedies still are:


No. 1: Stop watering the succulents

You can stop for week or two, or even longer. Believe me, if leaves are splitting open, there is just too much water in your plant. In such a condition it can go on without any water for weeks on end

However, it is very important to make sure that the excess water is indeed drained when you water the plant again. You can test it by inserting your finger into the soil. if the soil sticks into your finger, it is a sign that the soil is still wet. In such a case you need to opt for a more dramatic remedy.


2. Change the existing soil completely

If you are not using the fast-draining soil, the best thing you can do is to change the soil in the pot. Before you do it, however, make sure that you remove your plant safely from the pot. In an ideal case you should also remove the soil that’s sticking to the roots. Just then repot the plant in a fast-draining succulent soil mix. At this point, refrain from watering. Wait for a week before you water the newly transferred succulents. Now that the succulents are planted in the fast-draining soil, over-watering should not be an issue.


3 things to do to make sure you won’t experience the problem with curling leaves again

  1. Choose the right soil mix – Succulents are prone to over-watering if they are planted in soil with poor drainage. Compact soil or regular garden soil is definitely not a good choice. Soil like that absorbs and retains too much water ,which will in turn cause root rot in succulent plants. In the beginning, you need to make sure that you choose the right soil. There are many commercial fast-draining soils you can buy from garden supply stores or online. If you want, you can also make your own fast-draining succulent soil mix.
  2. Get familiar with growth cycles of succulents – Understating the growth cycle of your succulents is also important to keep them safe from over-watering. When succulents are dormant, they are not actively growing and therefore they don’t need as much water as they do during their growing season. It is very important that you know when your succulent is dormant and when it is actively growing.
  3. Watering frequency – It plays an important role in keeping the succulent plant healthy, and the leaves whole without cracks. Unlike other plants, succulents do not like frequent watering because it could cause root rot, and other problems. Many succulent growers do follow a schedule in watering their succulent plants. However, I do not have a watering schedule for my succulent plants. I just use the soak and dry method I mentioned above. The watering frequency will therefore depend on the soil, When it gets dry, only then I water the plants.


Final thoughts

When the succulent leaves are cracking, it is a sign of over-watering. If you notice this in your succulent plants, you need to check the type of soil you’re using. Replace a compact soil with a fast-draining soil mix that does not absorb and retain too much water.

I also suggest that you use a soak and dry watering method for your succulents. This way you can make sure that your plants will suffer the problem with cracking leaves…. Thank you for reading, and do not forget to check my complete guide on succulent growing. Thank you!