Help! My succulent is dying!

If you’re concerned your succulent is dying due to over or under watering, you’re in the right place! Find out how to tell in this post!

I frequently get emails from concerned succulent lovers about their dying succulents. Sometimes there isn’t actually anything wrong and other times the plant has been over watered or under watered. This is something that seems to be very difficult to determine. I want to share with you some of the clues I look for to determine how to save my plants.

This post is so helpful for diagnosing why your succulent is dying!
Crassula falcata

First, I want to tell you that dying leaves don’t always mean your succulent is dying or you are doing something wrong. In fact, as with all plants, succulent leaves don’t live forever. As the plant grows it creates new leaves and the older ones die. So, if your succulent has dry, crispy leaves at the bottom of the plant and only at the bottom, you don’t need to worry. This is normal!

If the leaves start to get unsightly or bother you, gently pull them away from the base of the plant and throw them away. Here I pulled the plant out of the pot to better show you what this looks like. Again, dry shriveled leaves like this at the bottom of the succulent are normal. When you remove the leaves, keep your plant potted so you don’t disturb the roots. Only pull off the leaves that come off easily or are totally dead.

It's normal for the lower leaves on succulents to die - Find out when to be concerned about your plants
Echeveria imbricata


Now, if the upper leaves (the new growth) on your succulent aren’t looking so great, you’ll want to take notice and determine what might be causing the change. Improper watering seems to be one of the biggest causes of succulents dying. Soil can also cause problems for succulents. If the leaves are starting to look yellow and  transparent, and feel soggy or mushy to the touch, it’s likely you’ve over watered. Below is an example of a succulent that has been over watered.

Succulents that have been overwatered will start to get yellow mushy leaves and black spots
Echeveria secunda

Don't let your succulents die because you don't know how to properly water them!

An early sign of over watering is the leaves fall off with just a slight bump. If you see soft black spots on the leaves or stem, the over watering is getting severe and it will be more difficult to save your succulent. With the Donkey’s Tail succulent below, the plant in the middle completely rotted. You can see the stem of the plants in the bottom left are starting to rot as well.

An example of an over watered and rotting succulent
Sedum morganianum

Echeverias seem to be one of the most sensitive plants when it comes to over watering. Even a couple days with too much water can start these beautiful rosettes on a fast track to rot. It’s generally best to err on the side of under watering succulents if you’re unsure.

You can save your over watered succulent! Click next to see how!


(I’ll also show you what an under watered succulent looks like and how to save it too!)

Get this easy to follow guide for getting started with succulents!

335 Responses to Help! My succulent is dying!

  1. Hello!
    I came across this page while trying to find information to save my plants (new succulent mom here, I think I’ve messed up)
    We have five little plants at home, bought them from a big store, all from different kinds. One of them is a graptopetalum pentandrum for which I’m most concerned.
    We brought them home at the beginning of November,they were looking healthy. One week after that I watered them. I didn’t water them very much though or at least I thought so. Three days later my graptopetalum started losing leaves.I noticed that the leaves were falling as soon as somebody would touch them and they were soft and wrinkly. I haven’t watered it since then but the leaves kept falling and some were forming blisters with liquid. I think yesterday somebody touched it because I found more fallen leaves and the poor thing has only four left. The stem is hard though and there is no smell so I guess it’s not entirely rotten. It definitely looks like overwatering but it was only watered once!
    There is also another succulent (maybe a morganianum, it looks like the one in the article’s photo) that has some leaves with the same problem and I removed them immediately.
    Could it be the soil? I don’t know what kind of soil it is. I have also noticed that it is kinda white at the surface, could it be salts from the water? Also, the containers are plastic and tiny with holes at the bottom (I didn’t see any water coming out of them though)
    Last thing, one of the plants is a cactus, looks like poor thing had fallen at the store and somebody put it in a container that was too small. What do I have to take care of before I put it in a bigger container?
    Sorry for the novel I wrote, I’m just the only one who takes care of them and feel sad that they are not healthy.

    Thank you!

    PS: is there any mail where I can send photos if needed?

  2. New Succulent momma with a Mother-of-Thousands plant. It’s winter over here in Michigan; I’ve had the plant a little over a month now. I noticed it was getting a little big for the tiny pot it was in, so I just repotted about a week ago. I water about every week or two and have the plant in a perlite-lime-vermiculite mixture with a Miracle-Gro fertilizer spike since I noticed it wasn’t growing very fast (lack of sunlight maybe in the overcast weather we have right now).

    I noticed however that the bottom first leaves of the plant are squishy, but still on the plant. There is no blackness and the stem seems okay too, no mushiness. Doing some prodding, I noticed the plant has taken root above one of the leaves somehow, which is somewhat buried in the soil by mistake from when I replanted. The roots seem healthy to me, no black or brown when I checked. I am not entirely sure what’s wrong; the top leaves are fine and the plant is still giving off new growth. Should I attempt to trim the mushy leaves, or do succulent leaves normally go mushy and then dry out when the old leaves die off?

  3. Help
    I am noticing a white powdery substance on some of my succulents. It appears where the leaf and stem join. I try to wipe it off but it is so difficult to get at. I have read many solutions and am wondering which is best. Jade tree and kalanchoe are most affected. What do you suggest?
    Love your column and like you, am a succulent addict.

  4. I have a succulent (called Aloe) which leaves at the bottom keep going yellow. I have had it less then a month and have only watered it once. What is wrong with Aloe?

  5. Please help me :( My Echeveria is about to die. 2 days ago it has been in overwatered condition, so I stopped watering for 7 days and until now. The leaves in the bottom were transparent then they dried later on so that I pull all of them out. At that time the tops of my succulent are still fresh and green but now it turns to kind of brown and purple :( What should I do now?

  6. Help please! Its winter here, my jade plants were doing ok few weeks ago, but around last week i noticed some leaves went black and most are just shedding off even if its not drying yet. and now my big one, the crassula, is all limpy. i’m so heartbroken, it used to be so pretty! I just forgot to keep an eye on it due to the busy holiday.

  7. Help I over waterd my succulent, I though she needed water because her bottom leaves were drying out, I added more water and now the whole plant became mushy. I read on the internet to pull the leaves off Softly so she could dry. I pulled the leaves off so it could dry. The soil is damp and the main root is damp. Help what do I do I can’t loose her.:( please help I am so worried, I love her.

    • Let everything dry out for a few days. If there is blackening, follow the instructions above for beheadding the succulent and replanting. Start watering again after the stem is firm or mostly dried. You may also want to look at replacing your soil. Check out this post for more details.

  8. Hello,

    my brother has a succulent that was doing very well until winter arrived. It’s always been an indoor plant and has gotten plenty of sun in the kitchen window during the warmer months. Additionally, my brother has been ill and I think the plant hasn’t gotten as much attention as it was used to. The succulent, I believe it may be a type of Asteraceae, is showing signs of both underwatering and overwatering if that’s possible. A few of the stalks are all dried out and withered but some of the leaves are soggy and falling off. Is there a way I can save this poor little plant? Should I try to salvage the parts and make an attempt to propogate it (I’ve never done that before)?

    • If you think the plant won’t revive itself for right now I would suggest that you find a spot where you can cut all of the unhealthy stems and repot it into well draining soil with just the healthy parts (see steps above for overwatered succulents). By doing this you can save the succulent from further damage and it will soon regrow.

  9. Hi, my succulent has black borders and some of it has dried up at the bottom. a few petals on the top also shrank and i don’t know what to do about it! Is this signs of underwatering or overwatering? Help!!! It’s around 30-32 degrees here everyday and i’m not very sure if its too hot for it! It was so strong before that amd now its dying! Help!!! Pls advice!! :(

    • It sounds like the weather conditions for your plant may be too hot. I would increase your watering frequency or make sure you are soaking the soil if you haven’t been (see here). You may also want to take a look at this post about how much heat succulents can tolerate.

  10. I just purchased my 2 small succulents last week and my kitty has gotten to them. My cat is fine… but will my plants make it? She ate all the tips off-_-

    • The plant should survive just fine. Keep caring for it as you have been. The damaged leaves won’t recover or regrow the tips by the new growth should be fine. You can also try propagating the leaves if you don’t like how they look. Check out this post for more details. I also think propagation is fun. :)

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I'm Cassidy, a professional photographer turned succulent addict and the author and photographer here at Succulents and Sunshine. This is me with my wonderful husband and super cute baby!

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