What to do When Succulent Leaves are Splitting?

Remember that day when you brought your first succulent home? You couldn’t take your eyes off that cute, little Echeveria.

A few moons later, what started out as a one plant show has grown to a collection of exotic cacti and rare succulents. And as the varieties have increased, so has the gardening pains.

If you’re not battling with mealy bugs, then you’re either beheading your plants due to etiolation or having your succulents collapse on you due to root rot. Whichever the case, growing succulents is an adventurous road trip.

For succulent leaves, splitting is a sign of too much care – for a larger part. Ironical, right? 

But you definitely don’t want split leaves. So, find out the one maintenance regimen you need to cut back on and how to further salvage the situation.

Let’s dive in.

Why Succulent Leaves Are Splitting

Watering is one of the necessary maintenance routines for plants – for obvious reasons. But for succulent plants, too much of it will cause splitting of leaves.

By nature, these plants are adapted to surviving in scarce water conditions. Their transpiration rates are way lower than your average plant; meaning that any drop that travels up their system is stored (in the leaves) as it awaits utilization.

Now, in conditions of abundance, so much water is coming in leading to an excess. But remember the succulents here have no mechanism of getting rid of it. They can only store. As the water accumulates in the leaves, it leads to increased turgor pressure which splits them.

Additionally, succulent leaves will split if the plant is in a potting mix with poor drainage.

Either way, the aesthetic value of such a plant is definitely on the verge of being lost. Here’s what you can do about it.

What to do When Succulent leaves are Splitting

As you have already guessed from above, reducing the watering frequency is a worthwhile step to take for succulent leaves that are splitting.

As much as it is a step in the right direction, it might just not be effective. The plant has already taken up more water than it can store/ use up. Adding it more, albeit at spread out intervals can still prove detrimental depending on the soil mixture.

Even if you have the right soil mixture, the fact remains that the plant has excess water. And there is no way of telling if this water would have been used up by the time you decide to water the plant again.

Here are more effective tips to apply in your fight against leaf splitting.

  • If you have the right potting mixture (good drainage), completely discontinue watering for a week or so. For this period, a well-draining soil mix should be dry for a larger part. Test for this by dipping your finger into the pot. If the the soil is still moist, it’s time to move on to the next step below.
  • For soil with poor drainage, remove the plant from its current place and rid it of all the wet soil. Put the plant somewhere dry with enough light (away from direct sunlight) for a period of up to a week. After that, replant it, this time using potting soil with good drainage capabilities. Wait for a week before you start watering. Keep the watering at minimal and the sessions far apart.

How to NEVER Have Splitting Succulent Leaves

You can take a proactive approach in dealing with splitting succulent leaves. Take note of the following…

Soil mix

It is imperative to choose a mix that is well-draining to eliminate any possibilities of excess water. Take note, going for commercial options is your best bet. Just purchase commercial cactus and succulent potting mix and get going.

Alternatively, you can make your own mix by combining measured quantities of potting soil, coarse sand, and pumice or perlite. To further improve drainage, plant your succulents in pots that correspond to their sizes – just leaving a small extra space. Repot them as they grow to maintain this set up.

Growth cycles

Succulents have different water needs at their various development stages. For instance, they need a lot of watering when growing. This has to be alternated with periods of a complete lack of it to partially dry out the soil.

In their dormant stage, very little water is required and therefore the potting soil should remain as dry as possible. At least half of the potting soil should be dry.

Watering frequency

This is determined by the stage of development as outlined above. In both stages, the top soil is the ultimate determinant of the right time to water.

The top part of the mix should be dry. This dryness should extend up to 2 inches into the pot if the succulent is in the growth stage. You can use your finger to measure this. Just dip it into the soil mix to see if there’s any moisture. If yes, refrain from watering until when there is a complete dryness.

We like to use a watering can like this to make things easier.


Try these tips out and let us know what you think. Did your succulents recover nicely from splitting leaves or did it ultimately fall?

If you have any concerns or suggestions please let our follower base know below. No concern or suggestion is bad, if you have a problem with your succulents we’re sure there are more people who have the same problem.

Thank you so much for reading our article! If you haven’t already you should check out the snake plant article too a lot of people enjoyed this one especially. And like always happy planting friends!

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