5 Tips on Saving Dying Succulents

It happens to all succulent gardeners at one point or another—one of your plants is looking sickly. You don’t know exactly what’s wrong with it, but you know something’s up. Succulents aren’t supposed to have brown, mushy leaves, or white fuzzy spots all over them, that’s for sure! Read this article to learn how to start saving your dying succulents!

So if you have a succulent that’s seen better days. Do not despair. Keep reading to learn how to start saving your dying succulents!

5 Tips on Saving Dying Succulents
Succulents love rain @bostonlandscapedesign

1. Saving an Overwatered or Underwatered Succulent

Save an overwatered succulent 

Your succulent’s leaves may be looking yellow or transparent and soggy. Your succulent is in the beginning stages of dying from overwatering. Brown or black leaves that look like they’re rotting indicate a more advanced case. So you have to start saving your dying succulents! 

The best way to save a succulent that’s dying from overwatering is to take it out of its container and let its roots and soggy leaves dry out. 

Keep in mind that not all succulents that are overwatered can be saved. So this method may not work if your succulent is too far gone. But it’s worth a try! 

First, take your succulent out of its container. Shake as much of the wet soil out of the roots as you can. That makes your plant dry out faster. Then lay your plant somewhere that gets bright but indirect sunlight for about a week. 

Once your succulent has dried out sufficiently, plant it in a pot with a drainage hole that’s filled with succulent soil. Regular potting soil doesn’t drain fast enough. So planting your succulent in it could cause it to rot all over again! 

After you’ve replanted your succulent, wait to water it for a week. And make sure that you read this article on proper watering practices, so this doesn’t happen again! 

5 Tips on Saving Dying Succulents
Healthy Succulents @hues.of.serendipity

Save an underwatered succulent 

Good news! Underwatered succulents are a lot easier to save than overwatered ones. Succulents are made to survive for long periods without water, so even if your plant’s leaves are looking dry, flat and crinkly, you’ll probably be able to save it. 

Water your succulent with a watering can deeply as soon as you notice any dry, crinkly leaves. You should keep going until water runs out of the drainage holes to ensure your succulent gets a good enough soak. 

Make sure that the soil dries out before you water your succulent again. Even though your plant is suffering from lack of water. You don’t want to overwater it and give it the opposite problem! 

After one or two deep soaks, your plant should start looking plump and healthy again. But if watering it the usual way doesn’t work, it’s time to bring out the big water guns and try water therapy!

For more guide to an underwatered succulent, check out “Dangers of an Underwatered Succulent“.

5 Tips on Saving Dying Succulents
semi-dry cactus @crasasunicas

2. Water Therapy for Underwatered Succulents 

Water therapy can quickly replenish the water supply of extremely underwatered succulents, but it’s the last resort. 

To perform water therapy on your succulent, grab a container and fill it with water. Gently shake all of the soil out of your succulent’s roots. You can even run your plant’s roots underwater to ensure that all of the soil is removed.

This step is essential! If you don’t get all of the soil out, your succulent’s roots can rot. This is because the bacteria that grows in wet soil is the cause of root rot, not the excess water itself. For more info on root rot, check out “What is Root Rot & How Do You Fix it?”. By removing all the soil from your plant’s roots, you’ll be able to safely put them in water to rehydrate them without causing any damage to your plant! 

You should also make sure that your succulent’s roots are the only thing sitting in the water. Putting the leaves in the water can damage them, so position your succulent carefully. 

You should bathe your plant baby for about 24 to 72 hours. When you take your plant out of the water, make sure you handle it with extra care. The roots are especially vulnerable to damage and bruising after they get out of the bath. 

We recommend that you leave the roots to dry out for a few days before replanting. This lowers the chances that the roots will break or get damaged during the replanting process. Be sure to also check out “How Often To Water Cactus” for more tips on watering succulents.

5 Tips on Saving Dying Succulents
Succulents hanging @evasamone

3. How to Save Sunburned Succulents 

Even though succulents love the sun, they can get too much of it, especially if you keep them outdoors during the summer! Putting your succulents in full, blazing sun for more than a few hours a day can sunburn them, which can be dangerous for their health. 

Succulents can’t use sunburned tissue for photosynthesis, so if most of your succulent’s leaves get sunburned and scarred, your plant may not be able to make enough nutrients to sustain itself. Have any of your leaves been falling out and you still don’t know why? Take a look at “Why Are My Succulent Leaves Falling Off?” for tips on saving your succulent from falling leaves.

Some varieties can handle more sunshine than others. Aloe and agave, for example, are used to full desert sunshine, but more sensitive, tender plants like echeveria will burn in the same conditions. Some succulents can even burn if you keep them on your windowsill in bright, direct sunlight during the summertime, but this is rarer. 

If you notice patches of discoloration on your succulent’s leaves in colors like beige, brown, or black, your succulent is probably suffering from sunburn. In an advanced case, the leaves will even look dry, crispy, and collapsed—a far cry from their usual plump, healthy appearance. Its time to start saving your dying succulents!

If there’s only pale discoloration on some of the leaves, you can usually save your succulent by giving it more shade immediately. You can do this by using shade cloth, bringing your plant inside, or putting it under an awning. 

Advanced signs of sunburn

If your succulent is showing more advanced signs of sunburn, like discoloration on most of its leaves in darker colors like brown or black, you may not be able to save it. Bummer, right? Succulents in this condition may benefit from water therapy, though, so it’s worth giving it a shot!

To prevent this from happening again, research what level of sunlight your particular succulent needs. Not all of them can handle full, blazing sun, so install some shade cloth over your more sensitive succulents or move them indoors so they can thrive! Growing your succulent indoors? Check out “Best Grow Lights Reviewed by Succulent Lovers” for tips on buying an indoor light source.

5 Tips on Saving Dying Succulents
Succulent pot in the sun @the_brian_holt

4. How to Save Frostbitten Succulents 

Succulents can also become frostbitten if you leave them outside in below-freezing temperatures. Some species like sempervivum are cold hardy and can survive in temperatures down to negative twenty degrees, but other succulents will get damaged if the temperatures dip under forty! Weird, right? 

So that’s why it’s essential to research your succulent and make sure it can handle the temperatures in your region before you plant it outside. But if you kept your succulents outside during a cold snap and they’re already damaged, what can you do to save them? 

Be sure to also take a look at “How to Care for Succulents in the Winter” for more tips on taking care of your succulent during the cold season.

If your succulent’s leaves have turned brown and mushy as a result of being outside in cold weather, you can try to save them by removing the damaged leaves or trimming them with a pair of pruning shears. This will only work if the damage is mainly concentrated on a few leaves or the tips of the leaves. 

If your whole plant is looking mushy, brown, and collapsed, you’ll probably have to remove it from your garden. 

To prevent this from happening again, try to plant only cold-hardy succulents in your garden and use frost cloth to keep them a little warmer in the winter. And remember to bring any container plants that can’t handle cold weather indoors whenever there’s a cold snap! 

5 Tips on Saving Dying Succulents
Echiveria, sedum, cacti, string of pearls, kalanchoe, aeonium, crassula, air plants. @pandcnursery

5. How to Save an Infested Succulent 

Even if you keep your plants indoors, there’s a chance that your succulents will get infested with pests. Bringing an infested plant back from the garden center is enough to spread an infestation throughout your whole succulent collection. Yikes!

You can prevent pests from getting on your beloved succulents by inspecting any plants you bring into your home thoroughly. But what do you do if your plants are already infested and looking like they’ve seen better days?

First, you’ll have to identify which type of pest is plaguing your succulent, because they all require slightly different treatments to remove. 

5 Tips on Saving Dying Succulents
Echeveria Imbricata @succulenthug

One of the easiest ways to pull these pests off your plants is with your fingernails, or some tweezers if you don’t like touching bugs. Scrape them off one by one with your fingernail or pluck them off with your tweezers as gently as you can. You might create a little scar tissue on your plant, but if you’re gentle and the damage is minimal, your plant will be just fine!

You can also blast the scale insects off of your plant with a garden hose. Just make sure the spray setting you use isn’t too strong, or else it might damage your plant! 

Once you’ve gotten all the scale off of your plant, we recommend that you treat it with a systemic insecticide to keep the bugs from coming back. This makes your plant poisonous to the scale, so as soon as they start sucking the juices from your plant, they’ll die. Take that bugs!

5 Tips on Saving Dying Succulents
Frog planter with succulent @potted.arts

There you have it! Those are the five main tips on saving dying succulents. Let us know in the comments below how else we can help your succulent from dying. Share this article with your friends if you found it helpful!

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Happy planting! 🌵

5 Tips on Saving Dying Succulents
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