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Troubleshooting Common Problems for Succulents

4 min read

Troubleshooting Common Problems for Succulents, Common Problems with Succulents and How to Fix Them


There are many issues succulents usually run into that might concern you. This article will tackle the most common problems and you'll be well equipped the next time your dear plants are suffering.


  • Upper leaves getting wilted, wrinkled, and crispy dry: Underwatered
  • Older leaves turning yellow, transparent and soggy: Overwatered
  • Brown calloused patches on the leaves: Sunburn
  • Stretches or become leggy with elongated growth: Inadequate light
  • Collapsed, mushy, grey-yellow leaves: Frost
  • Leaves turning red/brown/black, soggy, slimy, with bad odor: Rot
  • Irregular new growth: Pest issue


      1. Underwatered 

      <Photo via>

      It’s easy to save an underwatered succulent. Water it thoroughly until the soil is soaked and then let it drain completely. Always use a porous and well-draining soil mix so that it doesn’t hold water for an extended amount of time and lead to root rot. The wrinkled leaves should perk up very quickly just after one or two watering cycles.

      2. Overwatered

      Overwatered Succulent

      Try cutting back on your watering schedule and only water when the soil is completely dry to the touch. If you’re watering your succulents every week and notice signs of overwatering, that means your succulents are not liking it and you should switch to a two-week watering cycle. Also make sure your succulent soil mix is well-drained enough for it to dry out quickly after waterings.

      It’s hard to save an overwatered succulent, but there is a chance you can still help it survive by cutting off the top part of the plant and removing any soggy yellow leaves or stems. Allow the cutting to dry out for a few days until the wounds are calloused over and propagate it in new soil. Refrain from watering right after you plant the cutting. Give it a couple days to dry out and get settled in the new soil and you may see new growth appearing in no time.

      3. Sunburn 

      Sunburned Echeveria Succulent

      <Photo via>

      There’s little you can do when the leaves are sunburned and have turned brown. Simply remove the damaged leaves and adjust the amount of sun exposure your succulent receives. Most succulents prefer full indirect sun, so you can let your plants enjoy the sunlight through a thin curtain or a glass window to block away some harmful UV rays. 

      4. Inadequate light 

      Etiolated Not enough Light Succulents


      Light for Succulents

      You need to provide more sun exposure for your succulents. But make sure to 
      gradually introduce them to the increased amount of sunlight so they don’t get “shocked” and burned easily. Adjusting from full shade to partial sun and then finally full sun over the course of a few weeks would be your best bet. Remember to rotate the planters every week for even sun exposure and prevent lopsided growth.

      5. Frost

      Frost damage agave succulent frozen
      <Photo via>

      Some cold hardy species like Sempervivum can tolerate frost and enjoy cool temperatures from 30 to 40°F, while other tropical species like Euphorbia and Lithops prefer temperatures of at least 50-60°F. Bring your succulents indoors or cover them with frost cloth when the temperature drops below what your plants can tolerate. Prune dead tissue in the spring.

      6. Rot 

      A rotten echeveria succulent

      <Photo via Garden Answers>

      Rot usually starts from the root up, thus when you notice any obvious changes on the plant, there is probably no way to save it. But here are something you can do:

      • Cut off all the rotten parts if the plant has just started to rot in a small specific region. Then let the uninfected part of the plant continue to grow.
      • If possible, cut the stem well above the rotten part and propagate it. Sometimes it might be possible to re-root and grow into a new healthy plant.
      • Avoid planting the body of your succulents so close to the soil to prevent the leaves from picking up some moisture from the soil, leading to rotting leaves.
      • Improve ventilation, do not overwater and avoid leaving your succulents in a cold damp condition. Make sure your soil is porous, well drained and doesn’t hold water for an extended amount of time.

      7. Pest Issue

      Mealy bugs on succulent stem
      <Photo via Planet Natural>

      Pests and Diseases for Succulent


      Inspect your plant carefully to identify any pest issue. Insects are typically not a big problem with succulents. But if there is a pest problem listed in this care guide, follow the instructions there to ameliorate the situation. Most of the time you can treat your infected succulents with a insecticidal soap or mild insecticide.


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