Why Are My Succulent Leaves Falling Off?

It’s easy to tell when your succulent is in distress. When it starts doing things like dropping leaves left and right, you know it’s not healthy or happy. But figuring out why your succulent baby is in trouble is really hard!

There are so many factors that affect plant health. Water, sunlight, temperature, the soil you use, and even the pot you’ve put your plant in can affect its health. With so many variables, how are you supposed to figure out why your succulent’s leaves are dropping like flies?

That’s what we’re here to help you with today! Unfortunately, we can’t come to your house and diagnose your plant in person, but we can give you the info you need to figure out what’s wrong on your own. By the end of this post, you’ll be an expert plant doctor!

Before we get to the root of the problems in this article, Amazon is offering our Succulent City community an exclusive offer of a FREE 30-day trial of their famous Amazon Prime Membership. Click here to get your free trial started and enjoy that free 2-day shipping! What’s better than having new succulents on your door step extremely fast?

Why Are My Succulent Leaves Falling Off
Why are my succulents leaves falling off? @mijardin.pe

Low Light Succulents

Succulents can start to drop their leaves if they’re kept in low light conditions for too long. You’ll know that your plant has this issue if it looks tall and stretched out. Sun-starved succulents will also start growing towards a light source. So if your plant seems to be growing sideways to get closer to a window, that’s another sign that lack of light is the problem.

Luckily, this issue is really easy to fix! All you have to do is put your plant someplace sunnier, or put it under a grow light like this one— and for additional grow lights we recommend, check out our article, here! But before you put it outside and expose it to the sun’s blistering rays, make sure that you acclimate it first!

Plants get sun spots / burn too!

Acclimate Your Plant for the Outdoors

To start, you should only give your plant about an hour of sunlight or artificial light each day. Anything more and you’ll risk sunburning it. You can slowly increase the length of sun exposure over a period of a few weeks until your succulent is getting around six hours of bright sunlight each day, or around 12 hours of artificial light.

Your succulent should stop dropping leaves after soaking up some much-needed sun. But unfortunately, you can’t reverse some of the damage that’s been done, like your succulent’s stretched out appearance. You can propagate your original plant and grow brand new plants from it that won’t look stretched out. But giving your original plant more sun won’t make it look as compact as it was on the day you bought it. Bummer, right?

Check out our full article about the importance of sunlight for succulents!

Why Are My Succulent Leaves Falling Off
Low Light Succulents @howorthia

Overwatering Your Succulents

Overwatering can have some serious consequences for your plant! It can cause root rot, make your succulent’s leaves fall off, and can even cause total plant death. Yikes!

Overwatering is one of the easiest ways to kill your succulent, so it’s something you definitely want to avoid. If you notice that your succulent leaves are mushy, soggy, and falling off on the regular, you need to cool it with the watering can!

You should only water your succulent when the soil it’s planted in is completely dry to the touch. You’ll probably end up watering your succulents once every week or two.

If you tweak your watering schedule, your succulent leaves should make a full recovery in no time!

Why Are My Succulent Leaves Falling Off
Overwatering your succulents @momsgarden_la

Will too Much Fertilizer Hurt My Succulents?

If you put too much fertilizer on your succulent, it could actually have the opposite effect and stunt its growth! It can also cause some of its leaves to drop off, discolor the remaining leaves, and burn its root system.

If your houseplant is showing some or all these signs, it’s time to take action! If you see any white crust on the surface of the soil, grab your succulent tools and make sure you remove it all carefully. This is excess salt from the fertilizer—it can damage your plant and burn it if you leave it on there.

How to Remove Excess Fertilizer

Now, if you’re going to try to flush the excess fertilizer out of the soil by watering your succulent. Let the water drain completely, and then repeat the process once or twice to make sure there aren’t any traces of fertilizer left.

Then, make sure you remove any leaves that are damaged or dying. This will prevent your plant from using up its precious resources to try to repair damaged leaves. Your succulent will grow new leaves to replace them, so don’t worry about removing them!

If you follow these steps, we think your succulent leaves will make it! But remember in the future to only fertilize your succulents with water soluble fertilizer, like this one we use from Miracle-Gro, that’s been diluted to half-strength. You should only ever use diluted fertilizer on your plant babies to avoid chemical burns. You should also fertilize them sparingly—no more than once a month during their active growing season. That way they won’t get overloaded with salt or nutrients and start losing their leaves.

Why Are My Succulent Leaves Falling Off
Can too much fertilizer hurt my succulents @olorfulife.photography

Can Succulents Survive Extreme Temperatures?

If your succulent gets too hot, its leaves will actually start dropping off. It’s a normal response to the stress caused by heat and drought. Isn’t that weird? It seems strange, but it won’t actually hurt your plant and it’s not something to worry over too much.

Still, you should try to throw some shade cloth or a plant cover over your succulent or move it to a less sunny area of your garden to try to prevent this from happening. After all, who likes to see their succulent baby stressed?

If your plants gets too cold, though, that can spell disaster. A lot of succulents can’t handle freezing temperatures, and if they’re exposed to them for too long, the cells inside their leaf tissue can freeze and burst, causing irreparable damage.

If your succulent has frozen in the cold, some of its leaves will look brown or black and kind of mushy. If the damage is really bad, the whole plant will look like it’s rotting. In that case, it’s pretty much unsalvageable. For a proper guide on how to care for succulents in the winter, dormant months, check out this article.

But if the damage has only affected a few leaves here or there, your succulent leaves will be ok. Leave the damaged leaves on your plant. When your plant grows, those leaves will fall right off on their own and be replaced by healthy ones.

For cacti-specific tips, click here to see our guide on determining if your cactus is dying.

Why Are My Succulent Leaves Falling Off?
Beautiful spiral succulents! @akadamatsuchi

Those are some of the potential causes of leaf-loss and how to treat them! Did this post help you figure out what’s going on with your succulent leaves? Let us know in the comments section below!

Learn about some further ways to ensure your succulents and cacti are as healthy as can be! Check out What to Do When My Succulent Leaves are Splitting, How to Get Rid of Mealybugs, or Repotting Succulents the Right Way.

Thanks for reading! We appreciate all of our dedicated Succulent City reader. Don’t forget, we’re on Pinterest and Instagram! Give us a follow for daily succulent content and inspiration.

Did this article help answer your succulent-care questions? We sure hope so! If not, no worries. Succulent City is devoted to aiding all succulent lovers, and that’s why we created a line of ebook guides! Check out our in-depth tips on Best Lighting Practices for Succulent Growth or even The Best Soil Recommendations for Your Succulent today!

Happy planting! 💚💚

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!

Enjoyed learning about What to do When Succulent Leaves are Splitting? If so, you’ll really enjoy the ebook about The Most Common Issues Amongst Succulent Growers. With this ebook, you’ll find yourself more detailed answers that’ll help your succulent grow even better! With thousands of succulent lovers enjoying our ebooks, you don’t want to miss out on what works the best to grow your succulents.

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