You take care of your succulents. You do your best to give them great care and to water them properly. But now, you’ve got a plant with succulent leaves falling off. The leaves look a bit translucent and feel kind of squishy. You do your research and learn these are signs of overwatered succulents. With further investigation, you conclude that overwatering led to some succulent rot. Don’t feel bad — it happens. But while it’s good to know what the problem is, you need to know what to do next. Read on to learn how to save your overwatered succulents.
Succulent Leaves Falling Off & What to Do
Checking Succulent Roots
You over watered your succulent. It happens. Maybe it was left out in the rain. Sometimes roots grow compacted and block the drainage hole. Now we need to correct it.
Never be afraid to take your succulent out of the soil to better check its condition. The roots of any plant are essential to its health, and succulents are far more tolerant of being dug up than most plants. If you overwatered, but there are no succulent leaves falling off and you see no signs at all of succulent rot, just taking it out of its container may solve the issue. Leave the root ball and soil intact, and squeeze out excess water. You can then set the plant and root ball beside the container and leave it for a day or two, so the soil dries out quite rapidly. This is to prevent any rot from developing.
Signs of Overwatered Succulents
Your first sign of overwatered succulents is likely to be when the leaves change color and begin to look a bit translucent. This is due to the excess water bursting the walls of the water-storage cells. No longer neatly stored within specialized cells, the water runs through the leaf, diluting its color, and making the leaf feel squishy as it begins to rot. Soon, these are succulent leaves falling off the plant.
Overwatering leads to succulent rot and is the quickest way to kill succulent plants. The sooner you recognize an overwatered succulent, the sooner you can take action to save it.
Treating Overwatered Succulents
The first sign of trouble Terran saw with her echeveria was a few floppy leaves. They fell off at the slightest touch. She dug up her plant and in addition to succulent leaves falling off, the stem had a discoloration that was squishy where it was brown. It looks like a bruise on a piece of fruit. She recognized that she had succulent stem rot.
The small amount of root structure compared to the size of the top growth demonstrates a problem. Either this was a newly rooted succulent cutting, or much of the roots had rotted away as well. Go ahead and dig up your succulent to get a better look at the root structure. Succulents are far more tolerant of this than other plants, and it’s a good way to be certain of what is happening. If you discover or suspect root rot, remove excess soil, rinsing the roots if the soil is muddy. If you discover rot, discard the used soil and thoroughly wash out the container.
Dealing with Succulent Stem Rot
Terran found succulent stem rot. Her overwatered succulent was rotting at the soil line. See the discolored base of the leaves on the left? Like the stem, they show signs of rot. This was the cause of the succulent leaves falling off. Because they rotted at the point where Meristem (MEHR-i-stem) tissue in plants contains undifferent... tissue develops, they are no longer viable for propagation. The meristem tissue is the part of the leaf that can sprout new roots and leaves. When this is rotted, there can be no further growth or development.
However, upon close inspection, the rest of the leaves above the succulent stem rot still appear healthy.
Saving a Plant with Succulent Stem Rot
When dealing with an overwatered succulent that has developed succulent rot, whether of leaves, stem or roots, it’s important to separate the rotting tissue from
First, remove all signs of rot. Remove the leaves, and cut off the stem that has any rot. Then, look inside the stem you have remaining, to check for any signs of rot in the core of the stem. Continue cutting it back until all signs of rot are removed. In doing this, Terran removed healthy leaves from the stem. These healthy leaves were able to be propagated from their meristem tissue. She still had a rice rosette from the very top of her echeveria with about 1/2 inch of stem, after
With multiple leaves forming baby plants and the top of the rosette rooting well in fresh soil, Terran was able to save her overwatered succulent.
Succulent Rot in Black
For some reason, black echeveria, like this Black Prince, are especially sensitive to rot. If you love growing these varieties as I do, you’re certain to see a plant with all it’s succulent leaves falling off at one time or another. These plants quickly respond to
Steps to Saving Overwatered Succulents
As careful as we all are to provide good care, overwatered succulents still happen. Take the following steps to ensure you’re able to limit the damage and save your plants from succulent rot:
- Always plant succulents in proper soil
- Water succulents only when the soil is dry
- Monitor your succulents health by touch as well as sight
- Understand the signs of succulent problems Act promptly if you see signs of succulent rot
- Take the plant from soil to check on the roots
- Remove excess soil, rinsing roots if necessary to check their condition
- Remove any rotting leaves and check stem for signs of rot
- If you find root rot, discard used soil and cut back roots until all flesh is firm and healthy
- Remove and discard all signs of rot
- If rooted plant remains, replant into fresh succulent soil and water lightly
- Prepare all healthy leaves and plant parts for propagation
Now you know exactly how to handle an overwatered succulent to save it, and propagate it. I’d love to know what you think! Have you had experience saving your own succulents? If you have any questions, be sure to leave a comment. I will get right back to you!
Because life is just better with succulents!
P.S. – I’d love it if you’d subscribe to The Succulent Eclectic! I’ll send you my FREE e-course 7 Steps to Succulent Success!