Help! My succulent is dying!

It can be heartbreaking to see the succulents you have nurtured for months start dying. Well, you do not have to watch helplessly as your succulents die when you can save them.

In this article, you will understand why your succulents are dying and how you can save them.

Help! My succulent is dying!
Dying Succulent

Reasons Why Your Succulents are Dying and What You Can Do to Save Them

It is essential to know the particular reason your succulents are dying to prevent such situations. Here are some of the reasons why succulents fail and how you can save them:

Help! My succulent is dying!-Water Damage and Mineral Accumulation-SC

Water Damage and Mineral Accumulation

Watering your succulents with tap water will eventually lead to their death. Tap water contains additives such as chlorine, lead, and mercury, which, when accumulated in the soil, will damage the roots, cause stunted growth and death.

It is not also a good idea to water your succulents with softened water. It is because softened water contains a high concentration of sodium, which causes an interference with the water balance of your succulents and “fools” them into believing that they have taken up excess water when in actuality, they need more water. The succulents will eventually die of thirst.

The thing with softened water is that it kills your succulents and damages the soil. So, if you plant another succulent in the same soil, it will eventually die, even if you do not use softened water to water it.
In light of the above, the Cactus and Succulent Society of San Jose suggests that you use rainwater instead of tap water or softened water. If for some reason, you cannot get rainwater, you can settle for distilled water.
If you notice your succulents are slowly dying due to mineral accumulation and water treatment chemicals, you can do two things:

First, flush the contaminated soil with rainwater or distilled water to eliminate the excess mineral accumulation. Second, repot the succulent and remove the dirty soil from the roots.

Help! My succulent is dying!-Lighting Conditions-SC
Succulent dying Lighting conditions: IG@plantwitchlady

Lighting Conditions

Succulents typically thrive in different home lighting conditions. But they find it challenging to adapt to the abrupt variations in light. For example, if you place your succulents outside for a while and you suddenly take them indoors, adapting to the significant changes in light will be difficult, and some succulents may start dying.
To prevent this from happening, gradually introduce your succulents to your indoor lighting conditions. Placing your succulents in a bright spot outside, ensure that the intensity of the light indoors is quite the same as where they are coming from. Placing them close to a window might suffice. After some weeks, you can move the succulents to a shadier spot indoors if you wish.

Help! My succulent is dying!-Reasons Why Your Succulents are Dying and What You Can Do to Save Them-Insects and Disease-SC
Succulent dying off mealy bug: IG@meg_is_growing

Insects and Disease

Suppose your succulents are in a properly lit environment and are watered with distilled water but still have a sickly appearance. In that case, they are most likely struggling with an insect infestation or disease. According to the Cactus and Succulent Society of San Jose, succulents are susceptible to the attack of red spider mites, mealybugs, and scale.

If you notice spider mites are attacking your succulents, quarantine the infested plants and apply a specifically formulated pesticide to control spider mites. If the spider mites have reproduced, a one-time pesticide application will not be enough. Reapply the pesticide every week and keep your succulents out of direct sunlight.

To treat mealy bugs, you will need a systemic pesticide. While contact insecticides effectively eliminate mealy bugs, they need to be applied in large quantities, making your plants burn when exposed to direct sunlight.
When it comes to scale treatment, remove the scale from the succulents using your hands or tweezers. For more efficiency, you can use a spray nozzle on a garden hose. When using the hose, ensure that the water pressure is not high enough to damage your succulents.

Help! My succulent is dying!-Overwatering-SC
Overwatering Death of Succulent: IG@homeandgreens


If your succulent’s leaves have a yellow or transparent appearance, with a soggy feel, the issue might be overwatering.
Also, if your succulents’ leaves start to fall off or if there are black spots on them, take that as a sign that you are overwatering your plants. At this stage, it may not be easy to save your succulents.
Meanwhile, bear in mind that some succulents are more sensitive to overwatering than others. For instance, Echeverias takes just about two to three days to rot if it is overwatered, while most succulents take over a few weeks.

The thing is, most succulents can survive for several weeks without water, so you do not need to overwater them. To avoid overwatering, ensure the soil is dried out before you water your succulents again.

Once you notice any signs of overwatering, adjust your watering plan. If the problem is a black spot, you will need to cut off the top of the succulent and trim. In addition, allow the cut to dry out for two to three days, and then propagate them in new soil.

Help! My succulent is dying!-Under-watering-SC
Under-watering Succulent: IG@covidcrayplantlady


Just as over-watering can pose a big problem for succulents, under-watering can lead to an equally big problem. For instance, unlike most succulents that can go for several weeks without water, you have to water Senecio haworthii and Portulacaria afra very frequently; otherwise, they will suffer from under-watering.

If you notice your succulent’s leaves are dehydrated and crispy, you have to water the plant a little more.
That said, saving an under-watered succulent is relatively easier than saving one that is overwatered. If succulents just started showing signs of wrinkles and dryness, one or two watering cycles will help them thrive again.

Tracking your watering schedule can be quite challenging, especially if you are rarely at home. So, you may tend to overwater or under-water your succulents.
While you can use a pen and paper or a spreadsheet to create a watering schedule, using a succulent tracker application can be the easiest and most effective way to keep track of watering activity.

There you have it! Now you know why your succulents are dying and what you can do to save them and prevent a reoccurrence.

5 Amazing Tips on Saving Dying Succulents

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!

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! We recommend these products:

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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. Succulent plants 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 the soil 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!


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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. 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. For more info on root rot, check out “What is Root Rot & How Do You Fix it?”. 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. 

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 (mentioned above), 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.

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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 get damaged, what can you do to save them? 

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! 

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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.

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!

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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! ?