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!

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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!

356 Responses to Help! My succulent is dying!

  1. 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.

  2. 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.

  3. I have a tiny little succulent that I’ve had for about 7 months. I water it once a month and it’s been doing fine. Right before my last watering (about 2 weeks ago), I noticed the leaves (there are only 2) were looking a little floppy. I tried to move it to where there was more light, and watered on schedule. I just looked at it and the leaves are all shriveled up. I think it’s probably too late to save, but I want to know what I’ve done wrong. It’s been an unusually cold winter here, so my house is much colder than usual. Could that be the problem?

    • It could be from the cold, but it’s possible it wasn’t getting enough water too. Especially in the winter when the heater is running the soil tends to dry out quickly. While many succulents are dormant in the winter they tend to need water still if indoors. It’s likely that it is a winter grower and thus needed more water during this time.

  4. 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. :)

  5. Hi! I recently got a few succulents from home depot (not sure if thats relevant). My echervia got entirely black at the base of the rosette, leaves got mushy and transparent. Eventually, it was beyond repair so i threw it out. Next, i have a grapetopetarium and its leaves are falling off. The stem looks healthy as do the remaining leaves. Some of the leaves that fell off even look healthy but some look soggy and wet. I dont think i overwatered or underwatered but im really not sure. Is there any way i can save it/ what did i do wrong with my echervia in case i get another one.

    • Your best option is to let it dry out for a while. The soil it came in may be the problem more so than your watering. It could be it had problems before you bought it too but it takes a while to show up. Take a look at this post for a little more info.

  6. hi, I got this succulent a few years ago for a 4H project as a terrarium, and for a while, I had watered it perfectly and it was fine, but I soon forgot about it and it started shriveling up and kind of rising a bit. when I do remember, I water it, but i’m afraid it might not be enough, can you help me understand what’s going on with it?

  7. Hello! I’m a new owner of a succulent plant. However the tips of the leaves are turning brown/black and getting dried, almost like they’ve been burned or cut and are callousing over. I’ve owned it for 5 days now. What could be causing this?

    Big thanks if you can help me! ^^

  8. Hi,

    I got an echevaria about a month ago, and I know I overwatered it the first day. I haven’t watered it since, but the very base of the stem, near the soil, is dark and shriveled and has caused the plant to lean against the side of the pot. The rest of the plant, however, looks green and healthy like it did when I got it. Will the plant recover? I’ve heard that some succulents regrow their own roots; is it possible for me to cut it off at the base of the stem and replant it from there?


    • The best thing for your succulent is to cut it right now and give it a chance to regrow. You will want to make a clean cut where the plant is healthy, then plant the cutting into a pot. It will then regrow roots from there! I hope this helps!

  9. Please help!! We have a heart-shaped cactus my husband bought on valentine’s day several years back. To our great surprise it grew bigger and bigger over the years and has now got 11 hearts! We just returned from five weeks away and I think I’ve accidentally overwatered it. The original heart has gone yellow and some of the others too. Is it going to die?!? This cactus means a lot to us – please let me know how we can save it!

    • It does sound like it has had too much water. I would let it dry out for at least 2 weeks before watering again. You can also remove any of the cactus pads that still look healthy and try rooting those. You can see how to do that here.

  10. Hi, a few weeks ago I repotted a sempervivum succulent in a non draining pot in a mixture of peat, sand, stones and some compost. It has been on my windowsill and I have been giving it just enough water to soak the soil once a week. Some brown patches have formed mainly underneath the leaves and one leaf has a small hard white patch on top. Apart from that the leaves seem totally normal. I was wondering if you may know what is wrong with it? It has also recently starting growing thin stems with tiny rosettes at the ends from inbetween the leaves, I don’t know if that’s normal or not? I have another sempervivum succulent just next to it which has been watered slightly more frequently due to being in a smaller draining pot which is doing very well.

Let us know what you think!

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