Got your first succulent and placed it on the best spot of your home where you can see all day long? You give your new plant the best care but the color turned yellow and the leaves started to fall off… I know how hard it is to watch a dying plant. Trust me, I’ve been there. Luckily, succulents are actually easy to recover once you diagnosed the problem.
If your succulent leaves are falling off, this is because you watered them more than they need. Most of the times all you need to do is just stop watering the succulent and leave it until the soil is totally dry.
After that, you can keep going with your regular tune. But try to explore every succulent by its own and understand how often it requires water. Just to ensure such a thing never happens again.
Excess water is ranking number one of the problems causing succulent deaths. Here is how you avoid any problems and make sure your succulents live a long, healthy life.
Figure Out If It is a Normal or an Unusual Behavior
Plants lose some of their leaves sometimes. It is an utterly ordinary act for them. This is how they dispose the waste and poisonous matter from their body.
A few leaves dried out or fallen off from the bottom part of the stem can be a totally normal behavior of your succulent. I check mines from time to time and simply pick up these disposal leaves.
So, in which case it you should be worrying out for the plant? The sooner you can diagnose, by a bigger chance, your plant will recover from over-watering. The worst of all would be finding the succulent all smushed and lying dead on the soaked up soil.
Before that happens, be aware when the leaves start to swell out, loose color and become semi-sheer. If the leaves are falling easily when you touch them or the pot is shaken a bit, it is a sign telling you watered it too much.
Learn the Right Way of Watering Succulents
If you learn how and when to give water to your succulents, a big part of your worries is gone. As long as the frequency changes depending on many different parameters like size and type of the succulent or climate, a couple of tips will work just fine for every succulent.
Briefly, three main things are crucial about watering the succulents; watering them once in a long time span, giving them a good amount of water when they need, and paying attention to the drainage of their soil.
How Often do the Succulents Need Watering?
Succulents have their thick and fleshy leaves for a reason. They store water in their leaves and stem, as an adaptation to the desert climate where there are short but strong downpours one time in a very long period.
For that characteristic they have, it will be enough to water the succulents once in a while. They will have the water resource inside their body after that one good irrigation. By this way, they are able to stay alive without water for a so much longer time compared to the other houseplants.
How to Understand if the Succulents Require Another Watering?
So, how you can know after what time you should water your succulent again? A very good way is simply checking the soil. If the water is completely dried out and the leaves start to get kind of wrinkly, the succulent plant is ready to get another watering.
It is usually okay if you passed a bit much time in between two waterings. Succulents will recover drought easier than the excess watering since they are used to hot and dry environments. Just don’t relax so much to leave your succulent without any water under the outdoor sun. Otherwise, it will burn.
How Much Water do the Succulents Need?
The most effective way of watering the succulents is soaking the soil wet very well one time. This will help the roots to take inside all of the amount the plant needs. The rest of the water should be gone draining through the soil before the roots are rotten.
Succulents cannot Survive Without the Right Type of Soil and Pot
It is the worst thing for the succulents, sitting in a soil that holds water because the roots and the leaves will rot when they stay moistured for a long time. When you water your plant one good time, a well-draining soil and pot will help you out for the rest of the work.
Drainage is the Key Aspect
Never use a plain potting soil for the succulent pots! Loose and porous type of soil which you would find around a desert zone is the most commonly used type for the cacti and succulents; because the pores let the water drain through the soil and allow roots to breathe.
There are lots of ready-mixed soils that are sold in the gardening stores, Amazon or Etsy. You can take a look at a few of them which I choose for you by going to my post about Succulents Soil Guide.
Mix Your Own Succulent Soil
But if you ask me, I would probably recommend you to mix the soil by yourself. It is really cheap and easy, to prepare a DIY soil blend for your succulents. All you need is some
- regular potting or gardening soil (%60)
- perlite (%25)
- and coarse sand (%15)
Benefit from the Drainage Holes
One or a few holes at the bottom of the pot help the water drainage, together with the special succulent soil. They work together to keep the bedding dry for your succulent.
Please do not plant your succulents in a pot that does not have the drainage holes, just because it goes really well with your decoration. In such situation that I am in love with a pot which doesn’t have any holes, I drill the holes by myself or use a second pot with drainage holes inside that specific planter I want to put my succulent in.
A carefully set up environment is the first step for the succulents to stay healthy and beautiful. The best is when the external conditions, from soil to watering, from lightning to temperature, remind them of their homes, deserts…
Don’t Throw the Fallen Leaves Out!
After all this information about how to prevent this kind of an upsetting instance, let’s hope your succulent will recover quickly back into the fresh and bright healthy days.
In the worst scenario, suppose that your succulent could not survive rotting and fell completely apart. As a consolation, you still have the fallen leaves which will able to be propagated and grow into a brand new succulent.
If you are interested in succulent propagation, even though you don’t have the dropped off leaves, I explained every detail about it right on my guide.
Besides the fact that the succulents are actually really forgiving plants, they also give you the second chance – hopefully – for not to do the same mistakes over again.
Let’s say you can tell something is going wrong with your succulent. The leaves begin to drop off by the slightest touch. First, stay calm. And then pluck off two or three leaves from the stem very gently (they should be already coming out willingly) or pick up some of the fallen ones.
After collecting the leaves, they should stay at least for a couple of days on a dry surface. When you think they are ready, move them in a succulent soil and wait until the pink sprouts begin to be seen before you give them the first watering with a spray bottle.
Baby succulents will grow out from their mothers as new plants within a month! The success rate of propagation will increase with the more leaves you try to plant.
Succulent Healthcare Checklist
To sum up everything that cause the fallen off leaves of a succulent, I want to write this list down.
- Find out if it is a normal behavior of losing the leaves or an extreme falling off.
- Check if the leaves are transparent, yellow and squishy.
- Which level of the leaves falling off? Bottom or top?
- Check if the soil is too damp.
- Stop watering the succulent until the soil is all dry.
- Is the soil specially prepared for the succulents?
- Is the soil compacted and holding the water?
- Does the succulent pot have drainage holes?
- Control if the drainage holes are large enough or if there is something plugging them.
Succulents give you the signals upfront if they are not happy with their sun, temperature, soil or watering. All you have to do is paying a little attention of what they want to tell you silently.
In case you notice that a succulent is dropping off its leaves, now you know it is a watering problem and you are ready to handle it beforehand. Good luck!
In the meantime, check my guides