Your instinct as a gardener is to take as much care of your spectacular tall succulents as you can. And how do you do that? By ensuring that the succulents are always watered! However, without even realizing it, you might end up killing your succulents in the process.
Overwatering is quite common, especially among inexperienced gardeners. When a succulent is overwatered, it begins rotting, which eventually leads to death.
Naturally, succulents are common indoor and outdoor plants because they don’t require as much care and attention as other plants. So what happens if you accidentally overwater your succulents? Is there a way you can reverse the situation and save your plant? Let’s find out.
What Is an Overwatered Succulent
Succulents are delicate plants that require little attention, making them perfect for beginner gardeners and experts alike.
Dolphin succulents can beautify your property, for instance, without stressing about their care as you would with other plants.
To put it simply, succulents are a group of plants such as the mother of millions that have evolved to survive even in extremely dry conditions. When exposed to water, they draw in water and it is collected in the roots, leaves, and stems.
When the weather changes and becomes dry, the water stored is released, ensuring that the plant remains hydrated even during intense drought.
It is because of this reason that succulents don’t need to be watered as much. However, some gardeners still end up overwatering their succulents which can damage the plant in the end.
A succulent that has been overwatered a few times can be saved, but if you’ve been doing it for a long time, the damage might be irreversible. So how can you tell if your succulent is overwatered?
The leaves of an overwatered succulent will be mushy and will feel squishy and abnormally soft. The color of the leaves will also be lighter or translucent. The leaves will also drop easily at the slightest touch, with the bottom leaves being the first to go.
If you have a succulent plant, you must know how to meet the needs of a dying succulent that has been overwatered because this could make all the difference in saving your premium Haworthia succulents, for instance.
Signs You Succulent Is Overwatered
A succulent that has been overwatered will have a ‘sickly’ appearance overall. Depending on how long you’ve been overwatering your succulents, it might prove easy or hard to save them.
Succulents don’t need as much water and when you give them too much water, they are likely to start rotting. So what are the tell-tale signs of an overwatered succulent?
Puffy-Looking Leaves and Stems
When a succulent has been overwatered, the leaves and the stem will appear puffy because there is too much water in them.
Naturally, the cells of a succulent absorb water stored in the stem, leaves, and roots in preparation for dry weather.
In periods of severe drought, the water stored is released to keep the plant hydrated.
When you overwater it, the leaves and stems store too much water because there is nowhere else that the water can go.
Discolored, Yellow, Translucent or Mushy Leaves
The leaves of an overwatered succulent will appear discolored (think light-colored) or have a translucent color.
The leaves might also start yellowing which gives the plant an overall unhealthy appearance.
On top of that, since the leaves will be storing too much water, they will be mushy to the touch.
With many succulents, the leaves tend to start dropping at the slightest touch when the plants have been overwatered.
This is because the excess amount of moisture makes them fragile. With most succulents, the bottom leaves will be the first ones to go when that happens.
More water means that the leaves have to overwork to store all the water and when they can’t do it anymore, they start to rot from the inside.
Eventually, the rotten leaves change color and begin falling at the slightest touch. When that happens, the plant dies soon afterward.
Like the leaves, the stem will also store too much water if you are overwatering your succulents, which causes the stem to rot eventually.
The roots of a succulent plant store water to prepare the plant to survive dry conditions. If you are overwatering your plant, the roots will begin rotting.
It is possible to reverse the damage overwatering has on a succulent, but sometimes when the roots and the stem have started rotting, the damage becomes irreversible.
Methods to Prevent Damage From Succulent Overwatering
You’ve realized that your succulent is beginning to show signs of overwatering. What can you do to reverse the damage and save your precious plant?
If you are worried that you have overwatered your succulents and that the roots may begin to rot, the first thing you can do is to remove the succulents from the soil.
This way, you can check for any root damage and allow the roots to dry in the open. To dry the roots, remove the plant gently from the soil. The last thing you want is to damage the roots when removing the plant from the soil.
When the plant is free, shake out the excess soil making sure that you don’t damage the roots. You can also rinse the soil under running water. Doing this will not damage the roots further.
When all the soil is gone, check for any root rot and remove the affected areas before leaving the roots out to dry. When transferring the plant back into the container, you don’t need sophisticated tools for succulent repotting.
Once the plant has been replanted, a special fertilizer may encourage succulent growth even when the roots had been damaged by excess watering.
The container that your succulent is planted in might also contributes to overwatering. For instance, if there are no drain holes on the container, overwatering is inevitable.
If there is any standing water in the container, you need to drain that first. If you are using smaller pots, tip them over, making sure that you don’t pour out the plant and the soil in the process.
If the containers are placed in saucers, empty the saucers since the soil can’t drain if there is nowhere for the water to drain.
The other way you can dry out the soil is by placing the container in a warm and sunny area. The sun’s warmth will help the water to evaporate much faster than if the plant was placed in a shaded area.
When doing so, make sure not to leave the plant sitting in the sun for days, as this will cause the succulents to get sunburned. As you worry about too much sun exposure, make sure that you are not exposing your succulents to freezing temperatures as well.
If the succulent is overwatered, frostbite is fatal so, be sure to bring the plants inside when the weather changes.
Sometimes, you may water your succulents well but still, notice that they show signs of overwatering. When that happens, you need to check the location you’ve placed them.
The first thing is to inspect the plant for water damage and remove the affected areas and save as many leaves for transplanting as possible.
There are so many transplanting methods that you can use. To ensure that you never have to do that again, change the location. It could be that your succulents are placed in an area where they become overwatered when there is a downpour.
How to Avoid Overwatering Your Succulents
Step 1 – Know your plants
An echeveria is a perfect choice for a succulent carpet when it comes to outdoor gardening.
Instead of jumping into a watering schedule, the first thing you need is to understand your plants. For example, some succulents require more water than others.
Likewise, watering outdoor succulents like the world’s best elephant bush succulent differs from how you would water indoor succulents.
Outdoor succulents, for instance, receive more sunlight and therefore dry faster than indoor ones. As such, such succulents may need more watering. Figure out the watering needs of your succulent to ensure that you don’t overwater or underwater it.
Step 2 – Consider the climate
If you live in an area that experiences a dry climate most of the year, then your succulents will need to be watered more since they will dry as fast. On the other hand, if you live in a humid climate, you don’t need to water your succulents.
The watering of any plant also depends on the time of the year. For example, in summer, plants need more water since it is hotter than during winter.
It is also important to note that overwatering a succulent during winter will leave it fatal to frostbite.
Step 3 – Consider the growing seasons
When the succulents are actively growing, which happens during early summer or spring, they need more watering than during the winter months when they are dormant.
Step 4 – Change the soil
The type of soil or potting mixture you are using can contribute to overwatering. Succulents require a well-draining potting mixture so that the plant doesn’t sit in wet soil for long.
Consider using a potting mixture that will drain faster but not too fast that the plant doesn’t get enough water.
How to Save an Overwatered Succulent
So, what happens when you’ve already overwatered a succulent and the roots, leaves or stem are beginning to show signs of rotting?
Step 1 – Remove the plant from the soil
When a succulent has been overwatered, the first thing you need to do is to remove it from the pot and then remove all the soil from the roots.
Step 2 – Leave the plant to dry out
Allow the succulent to dry out for about three days to a week depending on how overwatered it is.
Step 3 – Set it in a dry and bright area
This should be away from direct sunlight since the sun might burn the stem and the leaves damaging the plant even further.
Step 4 – Replant the succulent
When the succulent is dry, replant it in a well-draining potting mixture and a pot that has drain holes.
When you’ve replanted the succulent, avoid watering it immediately. Instead, wait about a week and water it with just enough water and make sure that you don’t overwater it going forth.
If the plant was in a well-draining potting mix, but you ended up overwatering it, there is no use replanting it. If that is the case, just put it back in the potting mixture when it is dry and wait a week before watering.
How to Water Your Succulents Properly
Indoor succulents don’t get as much sunlight exposure as outdoor ones. As such, watering such succulents is different from how you would water an outdoor plant.
Step 1 – Use a watering can with a small spout
If you don’t have such a can, a squeeze bottle will do. The idea is to water the plant with just enough water since it is an indoor plant.
Step 2 – Apply water to the base
Water the plant, making sure that the water is being applied to the base of the plant until it is well-soaked.
Step 3 – Don’t get the leaves wet
When you are watering an indoor succulent, make sure that the top of the leaves doesn’t get wet in the process. Due to minimal airflow inside the house, if the leaves get wet, they could start rotting.
Step 4 – Water again when the soil has dried out
An indoor succulent gets very little sun exposure, so it may take a while before all the water dries out. Therefore, never water an indoor succulent when the potting mixture is still wet.
Instead, wait until the soil is completely dry and use a squeeze bottle to water it again.
Step 1 – Water from the base
When you are watering an outdoor succulent, start from the base of the plant. Since such plants are constantly exposed to sunlight, you can use a watering can, a hose, or a squeeze bottle depending on the size of the plant.
Step 2 – Soak the soil
Water, the plant until all the soil, is soaked.
Step 3 – Take care of the leaves
While you don’t need to worry about getting water on the leaves as you would with an indoor succulent, you still don’t want to get the top of the leaves wet.
Step 4 – Water when the soil has dried out
Just like with indoor succulents, only water your outdoor plant when the soil has dried out. This will likely be in a couple of days, depending on how hot the weather is.
Do’s and Don’ts With Overwatered Succulents
- Do consider removing the plant from the potting mixture if you notice any rotting signs.
- Do remove any damaged areas and dry the plant before replanting it again.
- Do consider the watering needs of your plant before coming up with a watering schedule.
- Don’t water a succulent until the soil is completely dry.
- Don’t get water on the top of your succulent plant since this may cause them to start rotting.
FAQ About Overwatered Succulents
What happens when succulents get too much water?
When succulents get too much water, the appearance changes to an unhealthy one which inevitably leads to the rotting of the leaves, stems, and roots. While you can salvage a damaged plant, the damage may be irreversible if you’ve been overwatering yours for a long.
How do you dry out an overwatered plant?
The first thing is to drain any standing water that may be in the pot. Next, take the plant out of the container and remove the wet soil. After that, you can remove any damaged areas and leave the plant to dry outside before replanting it and watering it again after about a week.
How do you tell if a succulent is overwatered or underwatered?
If a succulent has been overwatered, the leaves and stem may feel mushy. The leaves also tend to fall at the slightest touch and rotting may also start happening if the plant is not dried out. If a succulent has been under-watered, the leaves will shrivel and get wrinkled and they will eventually start falling.
How long can succulents go without water?
How long a succulent can go without water will depend on the species and whether or not it is kept indoors or outdoors. Generally, some succulents have been known to survive for up to three months without requiring watering, while others can go for up to six months before the leaves start shriveling.
Should I leave my succulents out in the rain?
It’s always a bad idea to leave your succulents out in the rain because this only means one thing – overwatering! So instead, place your succulents in an area where they will not be exposed to too much rain.
Succulents are the perfect addition to any indoor or outdoor garden. They don’t need to be watered as much as other plants make them perfect for even beginner gardeners. While a succulent requires little care, some people still end up losing their plants to overwatering.
A succulent will naturally store water in the roots, stem, and leaves for use during hot weather. As such, you don’t need to water your plant every week. Only water the succulents when the soil has completely dried and always lookout for signs of rotting.
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