Zebra Succulent Dying: How to Save It?

Zebra Succulent Dying
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Zebra Succulent Dying

Why zebra succulent is dying? If you have the same issue with your zebra plant, then this post is for you. I will share some causes and tips on how you can fix the issue.

There is nothing more frustrating than seeing a succulent plant dying especially my favorite zebra plant.

If you see this in your plant too, it means that something very wrong happens. There are many factors that could potentially lead to this issue.

So, why is zebra succulent dying? The most common reason why zebra plant dies is overwatering. When the problem is not resolved immediately, the plant will look droopy or dying.

It is important to remember though that there are many factors that pose threats to zebra plants. To make sure that overwatering is the real culprit, I recommend that you check the soil.

You can do it by inserting one of your fingers into the soil and see if it comes out with dirt. If so, then probably your zebra plant is overwatered.

How to Save a Dying Zebra Succulent?

Since there are many factors that could cause growth problems to zebra plants, it is important to identify the root cause first. This will allow you to take necessary action to revive the plant.

That said, the intervention needed to be done depends on the cause of the problem. Below I included some of the instances that bring problems to zebra plants and tips on how you can save them.

Zebra Plant with Soft Brown or Yellow Leaves

Sometimes, zebra plant leaves turn brown or yellow with a soft and mushy texture. These symptoms are often caused by overwatering. Most of my succulent plants before planted in pots without drainage holes had this issue.

The problem was that because the water has nowhere to go, it stuck at the bottom of the pot. As soon as the roots reach the wet area, they start to rot.

If you are a beginner, it is very important to keep in mind that succulents are accustomed to arid areas. When growing them in your garden requires giving them similar watering and growing medium.

Zebra plants have the same growing requirements. These plants do not like poor draining soil and too much water. What a zebra plant needs are fast-draining soil, less, and bright indirect sunlight.

To keep the zebra plant healthy, these needs should be provided. Recreating a native and natural environment is a little bit of a challenge on your part. I got it.

But trust me, it is not that hard. The simplest thing I can recommend is to plant zebra plant into fast-draining soil and only water when the soil is completely dry. This will keep your zebra plant safe from overwatering.

Never plant a zebra plant in compact or regular garden soil. As I mentioned, succulent plants need gritty soil that drains excess water.

You can buy fast-draining soil online (click here to check my recommended soil on Amazon), or make your own.

Saving the Overwatered Zebra Plant

If the zebra plant is overwatered, its leaves may turn soft and mushy. If you see these symptoms, do the following:

1. Stop watering

As soon as you noticed the symptoms of overwatering, stop watering immediately. Allow the soil to completely dry before watering again. During summer, the soil dries faster. But during winter, the moisture in the soil may take a longer time to dry. Always check the soil before watering.

2. Replace the Existing Soil if Necessary

If the soil stays damp for too long, replacing it with new potting soil is a good idea. Immediate action is needed in this case. If zebra plant remains in the damp soil, it will suffer from root rot. Choose the fast-draining soil for the overwatered zebra plant. This will help the plant recovers.

3. Use A Pot with Drainage Hole

Aside from fast-draining soil, also make sure that the pot has a drainage hole. A well-draining soil is not enough. The water during watering should have an exit point to drain. This prevents the water from getting stuck at the bottom of the pot.

4. Use A Pot with Appropriate Size

In terms of choosing a pot for a zebra plant, pick the one that has proportional to the size of the plant. A bigger or too small pot will not work well. Larger pots can contain a large volume of soil which takes a longer time to dry. Smaller pots may not also be a good option because it limits the plants’ growth. A pot that is proportional to the size of the plant is the best option. It provides just enough soil and moisture for the plant.

5. Always Empty the Saucer

If you are growing zebra plants indoors, there is a high chance that you use saucers beneath the pot. It catches the water during watering and keeps it from spilling. However, the saucer should be emptied after watering. The water in the saucer can potentially cause root rot. So keep it empty.

Zebra Plant with Red or White Leaves

When you grow zebra plants outdoor, you might notice that the leaves turn red or white. This means that the plant is overexposed to sunlight.

The leaves are not mushy or soft. This indicates that the plant suffers from direct sunlight. Zebra plants love bright indirect sunlight, not a direct one.

If you see these symptoms, I suggest that you move the plants to shaded areas immediately. Sunburn can potentially kill zebra plants.

Healthy zebra plants have green leaves. This indicates that the plants are getting the appropriate amount of sunlight.

Just like most succulent varieties, zebra plants need bright indirect sunlight to thrive. But they can easily get stressed when in direct sunlight.

The key to saving zebra plants that have red or white leaves is to move them immediately to shaded areas. And do it immediately.

For many years of growing this type of succulent, I can tell that excessive sunlight exposure will surely cause serious problems to succulent plants.

To avoid this issue from happening, it is better to avoid placing zebra plants under direct sunlight.

Zebra Plant with Brown Lower Leaves

Zebra plants sometimes also develop brown lower leaves. This is another issue that needs immediate attention.

The most common cause of this problem is underwatering. Light watering won’t work in succulent plants. This is the reason why I always recommend the soak and dry watering method.

Light watering only causes issues to the zebra plant. If the water only reaches the top of the soil, the roots will grow upward instead of downward.

This in turn creates a weak root system. Other than that, light watering keeps the plant thirsty.

As a result, the leaves will turn brown starting from the bottom. This suggests that there is not much water reaching the parts of the plant.

Saving the Underwatered Zebra Plant

What I like to do in this case is to check the soil first. Once I am sure that the soil is super dry, I can start watering.

I also recommend that when watering zebra plants, just target the soil and not the whole plant.

Many succulent varieties do not like to be watered from the top. In fact, the water on the leaves can cause issues such as black spots.

The best strategy is soaking the soil only and not the leaves and stems. Allow the water to flow through the soil until you see the water draining through the drainage hole of the pot.

This is known as soaking. This ensures that all the roots are able to drink the water.

Let the soil becomes completely dry before the next watering.

But before doing this watering technique, make sure that the pot has a drainage hole. If not, re-pot the zebra plant or make a hole in the bottom of the pot. Just choose the easier option for you.

Final Thoughts

Zebra plants are some of the most adorable succulent plants you can have. They can certainly add aesthetic value to your garden or collection of plants.

However, like any type of succulents, these plants have special needs that if not met, zebra plants might die.

Is your zebra succulent dying? If yes, then you need to check the main cause. The most common issues are overwatering, underwatering, and too much sunlight.

One of these factors could potentially kill the zebra plant. But don’t worry, these problems can be fixed or avoided easily.

My recommendation is that as soon as you notice the symptoms mentioned in this post, act accordingly and immediately.

Your first job is to figure out what causes the problem and act on it. Immediate intervention is needed to save a dying zebra plant.

You can use the tips mentioned above to save your plant. I hope this helps.

To learn more about succulents, do not forget to visit my complete guide here. Happy growing everyone!


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

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