How To Identify And Fix Common Succulent Problems

common succulent problems

Succulents are overall healthy plants and rarely face problems. Still, being living beings, their health too may drop down which might be a matter of concern for you, if you have these babies in your home. In that case, you might think on your own mistakes, why you couldn’t identify on time what your dear succulent needed and how you could have maintained your plant’s optimum health but didn’t! Don’t worry, here’s how you can identify on time if your succulent is going through a problem and how you can fix common succulent problems and make your succulents always happy.

Is My Succulent Healthy? (Signs Of A Healthy Succulent)

First of all, it’s important to know if your succulent is healthy or if it’s facing a problem. So, we’ll know signs of a healthy succulent which include firm leaves and vibrant colors. Plus, you can also monitor its growing rate. Succulents are NOT quick-growers. Thus, if your succulent is growing fast, you may be overjoyed, but you shouldn’t be, as it’s actually a red alert, and conversely slow growth is actually a great sign.

Also, you may be worried if you see dried leaves at the bottom of your plant, but this too is indeed a great sign because, succulents grow properly as they shed their old leaves.

Common Succulent Problems:

• Yellow leaves
• Black spots on leaves or trunk
• Shriveling leaves
• Desiccation
• Leaf drop
• No growth
• Stretched succulent
• Rot
• Pests

Succulent Leaves Show Problems

As you can see from the above list, common succulent problems can be easily seen from their leaves. If you are following a perfect watering routine for your succulent (in your own opinion), but still its leaves are turning yellow, mushy, transparent, soggy and swollen, it’s a sign that you’ve overwatered it.

On the contrary, even if you’ve not watered your succulent for quite a while, but still leaves can turn yellow and even can shrivel, be wrinkled or crispy dry and wilt, and that’s a sign that you’ve underwatered it.

If your plant’s leaves have developed brown calloused patches, it means you’re giving the plant too much sun and it’s sunburned.

And if you keep your plant out in the frost, its leaves are going to become grey-yellow, mushy and collapse, and you must immediately bring your succulent child inside the home.

Sometimes your entire plant may stretch out or become leggy and have elongated growth. In that case, don’t be happy about its growth, but be alarmed as you’ve placed it far away from light and it’s striving for the same and so, trying to grow towards light.

How To Know What Your Succulent Needs

In short, succulent problems arise whenever your succulent is deprived of something or the other. You have to just identify its needs and fulfill them, and you’re sorted! So, let’s see, how to know what your succulent needs when it shows one or some of the above symptoms.

Yellow Leaves

If you see that the leaves of your succulent kid have lost color or become yellow or translucent, it means you’re overwatering it. Usually, this symptom starts showing from the bottom leaves and goes on towards the upper leaves. Bad news is that this symptom indicates that your succulent’s root has been rotten or damaged beyond repair. Overwatering is a definite way to kill succulents. The very reason behind these plants’ tremendous capability to tolerate drought itself is that they store water in their leaves, roots and stem. Hence, you need to water them less often than you do to your other plants.

How to Fix: Unfortunately, when the issue is overwatering, there’s nothing much you can do. Only if you’re fortunate enough to have your succulent baby not having undergone severe damage, you can just cut back on watering or try to save a part of the plant. But if the damage is beyond repair, I’ll advise you to propagate your succulent baby through leaves if you can, so it’ll at least be with you.

Also, prevention is the best cure. Yes, you can avoid overwatering by:

  • Choosing a quick-draining potting mix for succulents and cacti
  • Watering the plant only when the soil is totally dry

Black or Brown Spots on Leaves and/or Trunk

This also is a succulent issue more or less similar to yellow leaves. It’s caused by overwatering and usually beyond repair. Black or brown spots are seen on leaves and along the trunk.

How to Fix: If the trunk has totally gone black, unfortunately, you won’t be able to fix it. However, there’s still good news! You can try leaving it to dry out for a while only to find that the spots have vanished and the plant soon recovers!

Shriveling or Withering Leaves

While yellow or black leaves indicate overwatering, shriveling or withering leaves indicate that your succulent is getting too little water. If your succulent is underwatered, you’ll find that its upper leaves start looking shriveled and withered.

How to Fix: As you can easily guess, the solution to this succulent problem is to water your plant more often and thoroughly. An important thing to remember here is that during a heatwave or in its growing season, a succulent will need more water. Also, remember to let the water to drain out of the drainage holes whenever you water and allow the soil to dry out completely before the next watering.


Plump leaves are signs of a healthy succulent. But suddenly if they start looking wrinkled, there are high chances that your plant is drying out. This normally happens when your plant is underwatered or is rooted in frozen ground.

How to Fix: If your plant’s inner core is still intact and has not been attacked by pests, it can easily get over this problem when you water it or when the rains appear again.

desiccation common succulent problems

Leaf Drop

Leaf drop is not an alarming sign that your succulent is in a problem. Normally succulents like Aeonium drop their leaves completely during dormancy, whereas some others despite being healthy shed their lower leaves regularly. However, it’s alarming if the leaves have turned swelled, mushy and soft, and are falling off even at a slightest touch and this can be caused by overwatering.

How to Fix: Obviously, by cutting back on water, immediately.

No Growth

Cacti and succulents are desert plants and need a lot of sunlight. So, their growth is going to be stunted if they don’t get enough light.

How to Fix: Thus, if your succulent is not growing, place it in a location where it can get enough sun. However, be careful to acclimate the plant slowly to the new sunny location.


On the other hand, if your succulent is not getting enough light, it may even stretch in search of light.

How to Fix: Again, you should place your succulent in a sunnier location. But don’t forget to acclimate it slowly to the new sunny area.

stretching common succulent problems


Rotting starts generally from roots. When you notice it, usually there is not remedy to it. But don’t lose heart; try these things:

• If the rot occurs only in a small area, remove the damaged parts and let the plant grow normally
• Avoid planting succulents close to the soil. This will prevent the leaves from soaking in moisture from the soil that can cause leaf rot.
• Give your plant plenty of airflow and avoid overwatering. Your soil should be well-draining and porous and should not hold water for long.
• Cut the plant above the rotten area and re-plant

Pest Problems

There are various pests and diseases that may attack your succulent. Let’s look at them.


Remove the infected plant out from the pot and clean it. Let it dry and then replant with new soil. Spray the plant with a mixture of rubbing alcohol and dish soap.


Mice can be handled with conventional traps, live traps or poisonous baits. Covering your succulent with a wire mesh is also a good strategy. You can even introduce a cat into the scene.

Red Spider Mites

You can treat these pests by watering and spraying your succulent. For a few days, spray with some miticide. Protect the plant from direct sun a few weeks after the treatment.


You can remove these critters by your fingers, tweezers, small tongs or even a water hose. Plus, use a systemic insecticidal spray every week.


Even aphids can be handled with a high-pressure garden hose or a systemic insecticidal. Also spray the plant with soapy water.


You can just handpick snails. But if their number is too large to handle by handpicking, use a snail bait.

snail common succulent pest problems


Succulents are overall tough plants and hardly have any problems. But still, they need your attention regarding whether they are in need of something or if someone is munching on them. You might plant these babies because they need a little attention and you’re busy or lazy. But be assured, you need not give them a lot of time or effort, and they’ll reward you with vibrant looks – so, do it!

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