Succulents are one of the easiest and low-maintenance plants to raise. Though certain succulent varieties are a threat to your pet’s health, most homeowners continued to grow these succulent varieties mainly because of their resilient nature. Also, no matter the size of the plant, succulent lovers patronize little succulents like smaller size Haworthia succulents simply because, despite their size, they’re also as tough as their taller counterparts.
Aside from the fact that they don’t require your undivided attention every time, they can survive even under the most basic environmental conditions. So even if you’re a novice in succulent-rearing, or if you don’t have a green thumb, you are more than qualified to grow this plant. The only thing you need to consider is the following — species of your chosen succulent plant, their basic needs, watering schedule, and preferred weather condition.
These plants may be neglect-resistant, but if you over-water, under-water, or expose them to extreme temperatures, they can develop conditions that they might have a hard time recovering from. At worse, these conditions can also lead to irreparable damages that could cause their eventual death. As a succulent parent, you don’t want to see your beloved plant suffering, right? You wouldn’t want them to etiolate, change in color, or become leggy. To always keep your succulents healthy and pretty, learn more about overwatering and its ill effects on plants in this guide.
Why Are Succulent Leaves Falling Off
You guessed it right. Overwatering is the main reason why succulent leaves fall off their stems. The roots and entire plant are sensitive to water, that if they would choose between being overwatered or underwatered, they would gladly opt for the latter. And there are plenty of reasons why succulents end up being overwatered.
One, if you use a pot that has inadequate drainage capacity, you can expect the water poured on it to sit on the soil and roots for an extended period. Expectedly, the stagnant moisture will cause the root to decay. If it wears, it could be infested with pests and diseases, or it could lead to its death.
If you also use the wrong potting mix, the same thing would happen to your plant. The water will sit on the soil and will be absorbed by the roots. As a result, the leaves would also swell, turn mushy and soft until they fall off the stem.
Causes of Succulent Leaves Falling Off
Not all leaf losses in succulents are detrimental to their health. Like other plants, these succulents also grow and regenerate, leaving their old parts to wilt and detach from its body. When you see your succulent’s leaves fall off, don’t automatically conclude that it’s because of overwatering. To help you differentiate, here are the common causes why your succulent plants’ leaves fall off.
Regular Leaf Loss
This is a natural occurrence in your succulent’s life cycle, so you don’t need to worry. If you see only a few of its leaves dry out and fall, that’s normal. However, it’s a different story if most of the leaves are drying out, and the plant also looks sick.
As mentioned above, succulents are naturally sensitive to overwatering, that they would react adversely when they get more than enough water. Their reaction includes drying of the soil and falling of its leaves. In this case, you’ll need to adjust your plants’ watering frequency and volume to keep their roots from decaying.
Everything that’s in excess is bad for your succulents. They might be sunlight lovers, but they often prefer indirect heat. This explains why they thrive better when you place them under the shade near your window or under taller plants outdoors. However, if they’re exposed to direct and excruciatingly painful sunlight for an extended period, it’s normal for them to get sunburned. They could also suffer from heat shock that would lead to falling and extreme discoloration.
Same with exposure to excessive heat, extreme cold can also send your succulent into a cold shock leading it to lose its precious leaves. This is precisely why you need to know your succulent needs and make sure that you only give them what’s necessary. Anything in excess is detrimental to their overall condition.
To recapitulate, overwatering is the main reason why succulent leaves fall off their stems. The roots and entire plant are sensitive to water, that if they would choose between being overwatered or underwatered, they would gladly opt for the latter.
Underwatering means the plant could no longer receive the right amount of nutrients to grow. Like other plants, they rely on the roots, soil, sunlight, and water they’re fed to thrive. If they lack these aspects, it’s similar to saying that they also lack in their survival basics. And you know what happens when plants have a few to survive, right? They’ll dry up until their leaves fall out as a defense mechanism to save the other parts of the plant.
Too Little Light
Light is another essential for succulents to live and survive. Aside from etiolation, inadequate lighting can also cause the succulent plant to lose its leaves.
If you apply excessive fertilizer, neem oil, insecticidal soap, or other chemical-based additives to your plant, they might suffer from a condition called chemical shock. The effect of this condition is excessive leaf dropping.
This is another condition most likely triggered by overwatering as the roots get decayed because of excessive water—the rest of the plant that banks of it will also suffer from deterioration.
When your succulent gets contaminated, the pests from the plant that caused the contamination will also attack your succulent. As a result, the plant will show an advanced form of deterioration that includes falling of its leaves if left untreated.
Anthracnose is a succulent condition triggered by a fungal infection. One of its effects is the rotting of the infected part. When left untreated, the rotten part will spread and cause the leaves’ massive drying up and wilting.
How to Prevent Succulent Leaves From Falling Off
You can change your succulent’s fate by simply ensuring that they only get what they’re supposed to have. Check out the discussion below for more specific tips and action points.
Well Draining Soil
The ideal potting mix for succulents has excellent water draining capacity. Regular soil tends to absorb excess moisture and allow the same to sit within the pot for a long time, causing the roots to rot.
It can also force the leaves of the succulent to store more water that would, in turn, cause its leaves to turn mushy and brown before wilting. To avoid this situation, choose a succulent-compatible potting mix. In case of doubt, go for cacti potting mixes.
Succulents are sunlight-loving plants, and there are a plethora of resilient to sunlight succulents out there. They need indirect bright light for them to grow healthy and thrive. Make a conscious effort to always look after your plants and see their leaves thrive and expand as they should be.
Most of the time, succulents that suffer from pests, diseases, and other damage are savable only by cutting the uninfected part and ready it for propagation. The sooner you discover your plant’s condition, the sooner you can cut the healthy pieces for propagation.
There are countless succulent species, and some might not even be published in guidebooks. When you don’t know the growth requirements of your succulent, it’s hard to tell in what conditions they will thrive. If you find yourself in this situation, the best remedy to try out is experimenting. Find out what environment your plant thrives in — does it like the cold, or does it prefer the sunlight? How much water is enough per pot? How frequent should you water them? Do they prefer nutritious DIY succulent soil? If you experiment, you’ll find the most specific, contextualized answers to these questions.
Do’s and Don’ts With Succulent Leaves Falling Off
- Always repot newly-bought succulents.
- Know the specific needs and growth requirements of your succulents.
- Understand needs when growing succulent from the seed.
- Take note that low-light succulents can’t survive in zero sunlight.
- Keep your plants from being exposed to extreme temperatures.
- Overwater your succulents.
- Underwater your succulents.
- Mix newly bought succulents to the other succulents in your garden without subjecting the former to quarantine.
FAQ About Succulent Leaves Falling Off
Do succulent leaves grow back?
Unfortunately, the leaves that fall off don’t grow back. Then again, this doesn’t mean that your succulent is hopeless. You can wait for it to develop fully and fill it out.
Can you save a succulent with no leaves?
Yes, you still can. First, cut off the plant’s top part, trim away its black spots, and allow the cuttings around three to five days to completely dry out. After that, you can propagate the cuttings in a new pot.
Why are my succulent leaves falling off when I touch them?
As mentioned above, here are the common causes of succulent leaves falling out.
- Regular leaf loss
- Natural sensitivity
- Heat shock
- Cold shock
- Too little light
- Chemical shock
- Fungal infection
If you touch your succulent and you see its leaves fall off, there is a high chance that the plant suffers from any of these conditions.
What to do with succulent leaves that fall off?
Here are some tips to help deal with the fall-off issue:
- Choose a succulent-compatible potting mix. In case of doubt, go for cacti potting mixes.
- They need indirect bright light to grow healthy and thrive, so be mindful of giving it to them.
- Never overwater or underwater your succulents.
- Never mix newly bought succulents with the other succulents in your garden without subjecting the former to quarantine.
- Propagate succulents as soon as you see signs of damage. You see, transplanted succulents grow faster.
How do I know if my succulent is dying?
These are some of the more evident signs that your succulent is dying – dead leaves, wilting stems and plants, rotten roots, heavily infested with bacteria or fungi, extreme discoloration, and too much etiolation.
Succulents are fun plants to grow because they’re resilient. They’re like your low-key and low-maintenance friends that keep the relationship stronger even if you don’t talk and spend time with them daily. They allow you to keep up with your own life and the dramas that go along with it. So, if they give you that much understanding without demanding anything in return, it won’t hurt if you also occasionally check on them and see if they’re still holding on. And that, my friend, is how you become a responsible and reliable succulent plant grower.
Photos from: Luoxi / depositphotos.com.