Succulents are super easy going plants that can survive months in drought condition. However, they can rot and die within a few days if given too much water. In this blog post, we’d like to share with you how to tell whether your plants are overwatered or underwatered.
Instead of a complex root system that helps other plants to search for water, most succulents store water in their fleshy leaves and stems. This allows succulents to survive in ecosystems that contain scarce water sources.
<image source: Cactus Jungle>
Succulent leaves and stems are like water balloons that can only take up a certain amount of moisture until every succulent cell is fully hydrated. When overwatered, i.e., when these balloons are overfilled, they burst and the cell structures are severely damaged, resulting in rotting leaves and roots. The leaves would start to look translucent, discolor (yellow), feel soggy to the touch, and fall off easily. There will also be black spots on the leaves or stem. On Echeverias, which is one of the most sensitive succulents, the color of the center would get much lighter. While it is possible to save a succulent from rotting, the best solution is to take leaves and cuttings that haven’t been affected to form new plants. You can check out our instructions on different ways to propagate succulents from cuttings.
<image source: Sublime Succulents>
The amount of water stored in the leaves and stems of succulents can help the plants last at least a month in drought condition. It can be confusing to distinguish between dying old leaves and shriveled underwatered leaves. Dry leaves caused by underwatering are softer to the touch than when fully hydrated, but don’t look translucent and soggy like overwatered leaves. As the moisture pressure inside the tissue of the leaves and stems reduces, there will be wrinkles on the skin, and the leaves will look droopy with sagging tips.
<image source: Succulents and Sunshine>
Dying old leaves are always the lower leaves at the bottom of the plant. Instead of shriveling up and discolor, they become brown and thin out to a very dry, crispy, papery feel. Dead old leaves will eventually be dropped, or can be removed to keep the plant looking its best.
To avoid overwatering and underwatering your succulents, make sure you pay close attention to the condition of their leaves and learn how to water your succulents the right way.
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In addition, there are many common problems you may run into: succulent etiolation, mealy bugs,... Just make sure you get a diagnosis as soon as possible so you have a better chance of helping your succulent recover.
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