If you’ve taken care of a succulent for quite some time now, you know that at least every succulent enthusiast will eventually encounter rotting . It’s like a right of passage, if you will. Guess you’re staring at it right now, that’s why you’re here! Don’t beat yourself up over it, it happens— trust us.
Rotting can be such a motivation- drain, especially when you’ve been doing your best to have a beaming succulent plant. Why does it happen?
Is it because of a random disease in succulents? Pest attacks- like those dang mealy bugs?
What exactly causes succulent rotting?
Why Your Succulent is Rotting
A succulent can end up rotting for a couple of reasons. Continue reading and we’ll outline the reasons for you!
The Cold Winter Season
The first one is the winter cold. Yes, as much as succulents are termed as hardy with a tolerance for extreme conditions, not all of them can bare the combination of frost and low temperatures. Leave them outside during the cold months and rotting is what they’ll do. Here’s our guide on How to Take Care for Succulents in the Winter.
Avoid this scenario and get yourself a grow light, like this one! Bring your succulent babies inside and keep them warm with you during the cold, winter months. Aside from this grow light, check out our article on the additional Best Grow Lights Reviewed by Succulent Lovers.
Overwatering Your Succulents
The second one is overwatering. The most common. If you just started planting succulents you’re probably already doing it. For the caring soul you are, watering is something high up on your list as far your plants are concerned. You do it with your all but you have to be mindful when watering your succulents.
Being the houseplants that thrive with a bit more neglect, compared to other houseplants, you need to be a bit more conservative with your watering.
That will be great for any other of your plants except succulents. Plenty of water is a sure way of killing those babies. Because as soon as rotting kicks in, the damage is done. Saving the plant is still an option but not in the way you envision.
More on that later though. In the meantime, let us help with our article, When You Should Water Your Succulent.
The Wrong Succulent Soil Mix
And finally, your regular potting soil. If you didn’t get this aspect right during the potting stage, then it doesn’t matter how little you water your plant. The water will still be around for periods that aren’t ideal for a succulent.
The right succulent soil mix, needs to be well- draining. Your succulent stores the water it needs within its leaves, so any access water that remains in its soil, is only going to become harmful for your little baby. Here’s succulent soil mix we swear by. Give it a try if you haven’t already!
Those reasons aside, how do you tell that it’s rot you’re dealing with? It’s important to be sure so as to not end up applying the wrong remedy.
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Okay… back to succulents.
Diagnosing Rotting in Your Succulent Plant
Rotting, especially due to being overly generous with water, has unique tell-tale signs. For an overwatered succulent
- Leaves and stems become very soft and may start to crack— Read on here to find out What to do When Succulent Leaves are Splitting.
- The leaves show a change in color – turns yellow or translucent
- Leaves fall off easily with the slightest sway of the plant
Consider these as precursors to rotting.
Here’s what you’ll see when the plant is really in the red as far as rotting is concerned:
- Dark brown to black spots appear around the stem area
- The affected parts become swollen and acquire a black coloration.
- If the rotting has kicked off from the roots, the plant comes off as unhealthy with droopy leaves.
Can a Rotting Succulent Be Saved?
That depends on the extent of the rot. If it is just a few roots that had started to catch on, simply cutting them off will salvage the plant— here’s a trimming set that will come in handy! But if the rotting is present in a larger part of the root ball and the stem, it’s farewell for your succulent – well, to some extent.
Not to worry though. Thanks to the ease of propagation of succulents, you can still end up with a new plant of the same kind. To do this, only pick out the parts that aren’t affected by the rot and set them up in a well-draining soil mix.
In both severe and mild rotting attacks, be sure to keep the following in mind:
- Use a fresh potting mix. Even if the previous was well-draining, don’t include it in propagation or repotting. That will be a zero sum undertaking.
- If you’re going to use the same pot, clean it thoroughly. Get another if you don’t trust your idea of thorough. If you’re in need of some new planters, these are adorable, but read on here for 12 stunning succulent planters that are a MUST.
- Any rotting part is cut off, no matter how small or insignificant it may appear. Only explicitly healthy parts should be considered. That way, you eliminate the possibility of the same problem recurring.
- The cutting tool should be clean (possibly sterilized) and sharp. Jagged parts and infections aren’t exactly needed here (or anywhere else).
- Cut parts should be left to dry out before being inserted into any medium.
Preventative Measure for Rotting Succulents
It will be utterly useless for you to eliminate rotting parts and propagate a new succulent plant, and still end up with the same problem. So, after separating the good from the bad, your care routine should incorporate the following to keep rotting at bay.
A Well-Draining Potting Mix
Your regular potting soil is great. But not with a succulent. That’s if you want a healthy beaming succulent plant. Long periods of wet soil won’t assure you of this.
So, grab a commercial cactus/succulent mix. Or tweak the drainage capabilities of that regular potting soil by adding sand and pumice/perlite.
Ideal Watering Frequency
If you’ve been too heavy-handed with watering, it’s time to go easy. Remember: too much water is the leading cause of rotting in a succulent plant.
So, how easy should you go so as not to kill your succulent?
Let the top part of the mix be your guide. It should be allowed to dry out completely, between watering sessions, ideally 1-2 inches down the mix.
Keep in mind the growing seasons too. Periods of growth need water (not too much of it) while in dormancy, the amount reduces considerably. That means keeping up with a uniform watering routine can still turn out to be detrimental. So, use the above guidelines during seasons like summer and spring, and cut back during winter.
Use a Clay Pot
Well, if you can help it. Clay is so much better aerated which is a major boost to the drying rate of the potting mix. This gives the succulent roots great breathing space and hence reduce chances of rotting by a huge margin.
Get your clay pots, here. They’d also be great to try DIY painting activities with!
For any other pot type, ensure the drainage holes at the bottom are large enough to let off water as easily as possible.
Obey the Succulent Hardiness Value
Very vital if you’re growing your succulents outdoors. All factors adhered to, rotting is still imminent if you’re keeping a succulent in the cold when it should be inside.
So, know your zone. Know the zone your plant is suited for. Can it brace the cold and the accompanying frost? If not, bring it inside as soon as winter kicks in.
Knowing your zone (and that of the plant) is as easy as logging on to the USDA plant hardiness zone Map and typing in the name of your area.
The main reason why your succulent will rot is too much water. But it shouldn’t be the end of your plant. Just cut up the affected parts and start over again. This time round, be sure to adopt good care routines above so that you’re not stuck into an endless loop.
Have you been through the rotting cycle of succulents and have some additional tips for us, drop a comment down below, or join our Facebook group, Succulent City Plant Lounge, and share your thoughts there!
We have dozens of helpful guides on ensuring you can be the best succulent parent you can be! Give our articles like, Can Succulents Survive in My Work Environment and Your Ultimate Guide on How to Take Care of Air Plants, a look today and get inspired!
Thanks for reading, happy planting! ?