What Causes Succulent Rotting and How to Prevent it?

Why is My Succulent Rotting?

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 is my succulent rotting
succulent freckles @succswithoutyou

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.

why is my succulent rotting
brittle baby @inas_eden

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.

why is my succulent rotting
stop over watering @leafyroomies

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.

Before we continue… We’re just so excited to share with you about our sponsorship with Amazon! And to celebrate, they’re offering a FREE 30-day trial of their Amazon Prime Membership… You know, the membership where you can get FREE 2-day shipping on all your succulent needs?! Click this link to learn more and sign up today!

Okay… back to succulents.

why is my succulent rotting
get yourself the right potting mix @succulent_journey

Diagnosing Rotting in Your Succulent Plant

Rotting, especially due to being overly generous with water, has unique tell-tale signs. For an overwatered succulent

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.
why is my succulent rotting
splitting Jade leaves @the_orchid_queen

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 thoroughness. 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.
why is my succulent rotting
let’s save your babies @terracottacorner

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.

why is my succulent rotting
succulent lover’s dream patio @minigardens_minsk_brest

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. This top part 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 reduces the 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 the water as easily as possible.

why is my succulent rotting
grow baby, grow @succulentheaven21

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 around, be sure to adopt good care routines above so that you’re not stuck into an endless loop.


why is my succulent rotting
no rotting here @succulentlovestory

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 become a good 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!

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 The Correct Way to Water Succulents or even Succulent Drainage Requirements today!

Thanks for reading, happy planting!?

Overwatered Succulent Remedies: Everything You Need To Know

Overwaterd Succulent Remedies

Life can sometimes be annoying. Just imagine: You do everything to take care of your succulents. You give them the best attention, watering them well. But, after a while, you discover that you have a plant with succulent leaves falling off! What should raise the red flag? The leaves look translucent and feel squishy. 

Rushing off to carry out some research and, while at it, you confirm your worst fears: The succulents are rotting! A little more investigation and conclude that the cause of the succulent rot is simply overwatering. You need to learn overwatered succulent plant remedies to fix it!

Overwatered Succulent Remedies
Succulent leaves falling off from over-watering @timotheigh

Overwatered succulent

Has something like this ever befallen you? There is no need to feel bad; life is like that, and this can happen. Perhaps it was left out in the rain.

Sometimes, if this happens, the growing roots may be compacted, blocking the drainage hole.                  

Having unearthed the real problem, it is now time to correct things. If this is your predicament, you are in good company. How can you save your overwatered succulents?  Let us take some time to learn overwatered succulent remedies. Before this, another question arises: How can we diagnose overwatered succulents correctly?

Overwatered Succulent Remedies
Echeveria over-watered @flossiesplants

Diagnosis and treatment

Start by checking the succulent roots for any signs of rot. To do this effectively, do not be afraid to pluck your succulent out of the soil. Of course, a plant’s roots are always essential to its health. Succulents, on their part, are far more tolerant of being dug up compared with other plants.

If you overwatered, but there are no signs, just yet, of succulent plant leaves falling off or rotting, take the plant out of its container, and the problem is solved. Period.

Ensure you leave the soil and root ball intact. Also, squeeze out excess water. After this, place the plant and root ball near the container. Leave it for just a day or two, allowing the soil to dry out rapidly. This prevents any rot from developing and it is our first overwatered succulent remedy.

The first signs 

Often the initial sign of overwatered succulents is this: You may find that the leaves are changing color, beginning to look a little bit translucent. This is usually due to excess water bursting the water-storage cell walls.

Because it is no longer stored within the specialized cells, as usual, the water now runs through the leaf. This dilutes its color, making the leaf squishy. The plant soon begins to rot. Before long, you have the succulent leaves falling off.

Remember that, overwatering is often what makes the succulent rot. Indeed, this is the fastest way to kill succulent plants. For this reason, the sooner you recognize that a succulent is overwatered, the sooner you should take action to save it.

Overwatered Succulent Remedies
Succulent topped pumpkin @lushsucculents

Overwatered succulent remedies

As you will find out, one of the first signs of trouble in succulents might be the floppy leaves. They can start falling off at the slightest touch.  If you dig up the plant, as advised, you may discover that, apart from the succulent leaves falling off, the stem has a squishy discoloration where it is brown. It appears like a little bruise on a piece of fruit. This is the tell-tale sign: You definitely have a succulent stem rot!

Without a doubt, the tiny amount of root structure compared to the top growth’s size demonstrates a problem. This is, perhaps, a newly rooted succulent cutting. If not, then much of the root has rotted away. How should you deal with this? Dig up your succulent so that you can get a better look at the structure of the root.

As noted, succulents are relatively more tolerant than other plants. It is also an excellent way to determine what is happening. If you suspect or discover a root rot, rinse the roots and remove excess water, if the soil is muddy. Thoroughly wash the container and discard the used soil.

Treating the stem rot

How can you recognize a succulent stem rot? The overwatered succulent might be rotting at the soil line. Are there discolored base leaves on the left side of the plant? If, like the stem, they are showing signs of rot, then there is trouble. This is what is causing the succulent leaves to fall off.

Because these have rotted at the location where the meristem tissue develops typically, they are no longer useful for propagation. Of course, the meristem tissue is that part of the leaf that generally sprouts new leaves and roots. When the meristem is rotted, you cannot expect any further growth or development. Happily, on closer inspection, you will find that the other leaves, located above the succulent stem rot, still appear healthy.

Overwatered Succulent Remedies
Astrophytum cactus @driftwoodcactus

Succulent rot

Has the overwatered succulent developed a decay of the leaves, roots or the stem? It is essential to isolate the rotting tissue from the healthy plant. First, discard the used soil and other harmful parts of the plant. You will find that, in such a case, with just the little root structure and parts of the lower leaves and stem rotting; the plant top remains healthy.

As a first step, remove all the signs of rot. That means removing the leaves and cut off any rotten stem. Next, look inside the remaining stem. Check for signs of decay in the stem core. Cut it back until all the symptoms are completely gone. You may even remove the healthy leaves from the stem.

Recognize that, these healthy leaves were somehow propagated from their meristem tissue. If a rice rosette remains after all signs of the succulent rot are gone, you can do something about this. Treat this rosette just like a succulent stem cutting for propagation. You will realize remarkable success. Soon, you will find that multiple leaves are forming baby plants, and the top of the rosette is rooting well in fresh soil. Your overwatered succulent is saved!

Black Echeveria rot

Black Echeveria, just like the Black Prince, is particularly sensitive to rot. If you like growing these, you will likely have a plant with the succulent leaves falling off, one time or another. Such plants respond quickly to overwatering by dropping all leaves suddenly. Good enough, this also means most of the fallen leaves remain in a healthy state to root, developing into independent plants. This is a beautiful survival mechanism that helps the plant to propagate, regardless of whether the parent is susceptible to death.

Overwatered Succulent Remedies
Black Echeveria @eva.kelley92

Water your plants sensibly

You can take a few steps to forestall the problem of rotting succulents. The key is just one: Have a good schedule of watering the plant. This is the best preventive measure you can take. Consider the following steps:

Avoid over-watering

If you find that there are some dead leaves on the upper parts of new growth, this is a clear sign of danger. It might be caused by overwatering or under-watering.

Moreover, soil can also cause trouble for succulents. If the leaves are beginning to look yellow and transparent or feel soggy and mushy on touch, it is, likely, a typical case of overwatering. Further, overwatered succulents usually start to get black spots and soft yellow leaves.

The finest way to avoid over-watering is to ensure the soil is completely dried before re-watering. Indeed, most succulents can go for three days or even a week without water. Wisely, when in doubt, do not water: wait!

In case you notice any over-watering symptoms on your plants, act to cut back on the watering schedule. Check if you need to change to a better mixture of soil.

Create a watering- schedule for your succulents. Read “When Should You Really Water Your Succulents” for an in-depth guide on all things watering.

Avoid under-watering

Over-watering succulents is not the only culprit. Most succulents are equally sensitive to under-watering. However, plants like Senecio Haworthii and Portulacaria Afra love to be watered more frequently compared to other succulents.

If you discover that your plant’s upper leaves are beginning to wrinkle and get crispy and dry, it might be time to provide your succulents with a little more water. 

Understand the dangers of under watering succulents with “The Dangers of an Underwatered Succulent”.

Overwatered Succulent Remedies
Black Echeveria @gymno_cactus

How to save your succulents

The scourge of overwatered succulents will always happen, regardless of how careful we are. For this reason, take the following simple steps to help you limit the damage and save your plants from the succulent rot:

  • Always plant your succulents in proper soil.
  • Water the succulents only when the soil is very dry.
  • Closely monitor the health of the succulents by touch and sight.
  • Understand the signs of succulent trouble and act fast once you see the signs of a succulent rot.
  • Pluck the plant from the soil to better check on the roots.
  • Remove excess soil and, if necessary, rinse the roots to check the plant condition.
  • Remove the rotting leaves, checking the stem for any signs of rot.
  • If you discover a root rot, discard the used soil immediately and cut back the roots, ensuring all flesh is healthy and firm.
  • Radically remove all signs of rot.
  • In case the rooted plant survives, replant this into fresh succulent soil, watering lightly.
  • Prepare the healthy plants and leaves for propagation.

Voila! Hopefully, you now know our overwatered succulent remedies. You know precisely how to save it and propagate it.

Overwatered Succulent Remedies
Succulent garden @sukulent_marketim

Take practical steps to diagnose your succulent. Get the diagnosis as soon as possible. This gives you a good chance of helping the succulent recover.

Pay close attention to your succulent. You will catch the early signs of such problems. This makes it easier for you to save your succulent well before things get out of control. 

Without a doubt, life is undoubtedly better and more vibrant with succulents around! Preserve them jealously for posterity.

For more helpful guides for succulent care, check out How Often to Water a Cactus, What to Do When My Succulent Leaves are Splitting, or How to Make Succulent Soil at Home!

Do you have more overwatered succulent remedies? Let us know with a comment below or share in our exclusive Facebook Group, Succulent City Plant Lounge!

Happy planting! ?