Overwatered Succulent Signs And How To Save Them

If you’re a succulent plant enthusiast, then you already know that an overwatered succulent is bound to happen. In fact, it’s one of the most common issues of growing succulents – especially if you’re a beginner.

Compared to most of the plants, succulents have different caring and watering needs. Nature has evolved them in a way that they can thrive in arid and dry climates.

They utilize their fleshy leaves as well as stems to retain water for a longer time – hence the name succulent.

In other words, it means that you don’t need to water your succulents as often as you do your other plants.

Early Signs of an Overwatered Succulent

Before getting into details, let’s first discuss what an overwatered succulent means.

As mentioned before, succulents don’t need as much water as other plants do. If you’re a beginner, you might end up watering them more than required, or you may have accidentally leave your succulents out in the rain. 

The early stages of an overwatered succulent are usually the same. You’ll start noticing the succulent stem and the succulent’s leaves becoming a little translucent or lighter as compared to a healthy succulent plant.

This will occur in particular in the plant’s upper leaves. You might also notice that the leaves start dropping with the slightest touch.

An overwatered succulent will feel soggy, soft, squishy, and have mushy leaves.

Overwatered Aloe Vera Plant
An Overwatered Aloe Vera Plant With Yellowing Leaves

This happens because the excess of water in the succulent leaves bursts the walls of water storage cells and runs through the whole leaf.

As time goes by, the plant starts to rot, root rot sets in and start to notice fallen leaves.

So, it’s safe to say that the most important sign of overwatered succulent is undoubtedly rotting.

In order to better understand what to do, we will discuss the different types of rotting in an overwatered succulent.

Lastly, you might notice the plant’s roots will start blocking the drainage hole of the pot.

If your succulent has any of these symptoms, then it’s safe to say you have an overwatered succulent plant.

Let’s talk about how to save an overwatered succulent.

Let’s discuss all the important information that will need to save an overwatered succulent.

How to Save an Overwatered Succulent

If you ever have an overwatered succulent, don’t panic it’s not a dying succulent. You can still save an overwatered succulent even if they have started decaying and root rot has set in.

Overwatered Succulent Plants Lithops
Overwatered Lithop Succulent Plants

In order to make sure whether your succulent is overwatered or not, you need to analyze it carefully and effectively.

You might have to dig out your plant to check out the roots and stem. Don’t be afraid to do so because succulents are very hardy plants. Remember to gently pull your plant out.

If you still don’t find any signs, such as a change in leaves color or rotting or falling of leaves, but you’re sure that it’s overwatered, then take it out from the container for a day or two to solve the problem.

On the other hand, if your succulent plants appear sick and you observe the squishy and soft-to-touch leaves, then you can follow the practices mentioned below to save them from dying.

Check to See if an Overwatered Succulent Is Rotting

There are three main types of rotting that you will see in an overwatered succulent.

Leaves Falling or Rotting Leaves

As the name suggests, the succulent leaves absorb too much moisture and get infected. Excess water causes a fungal infection that leads the leaves to rot and leaves falling.

How to Fix Succulent Leaves Falling or Rotting Leaves

Overwatered Succulent with wilting leaves

The immediate action must be removing the infected leaves. You’ll also need to make sure whether the stem or root is infected or not.

If the rot is severe on and falling leaves, then remove the healthy ones and let the plant dry so that they are callused over, and you’ll see that they will start growing roots in about a week or so.

Succulent Stem Rotting

In order to observe the succulent stem rotting, you need to remove it from the pot. If the succulent stem is rotting, then black or brown spots will appear from the inside.

The color of the stem will also change and be very noticeable compared to a healthy plant.

How to Fix Succulent Stem Rot

If the stem rot is not severe, you can dig up the plant from the soil. You might notice that the stem is a little squishy and discolored.

Removing the infected parts will usually do the job.

On the other hand, if the succulent stem rot is severe enough that it has started rotting the succulent stem from the inside or core, you’ll need to cut away the completely rotten areas completely off.

Now, you’ll need to leave it for a couple of days (or more) in order to let the cut callus over. 

Once it’s done, plant the succulent in a pot with fresh succulent soil or cactus mix. You can also add a little rooting hormone to help stimulate the growth of the roots.

Within a few weeks, you’ll start noticing that the succulent recover by seeing new growth of small firm leaves.

Root Rot

Root rot is by far the most severe of rotting in any plant. Root rot can cause the whole plant to die. Root rot basically stops the plant’s nutrient and water intake. The result is that the plant shrivels up and dies.

Root rot is very tricky to detect because when the plant shrivels up the plant appears to be underwatered due to the lack of water and nutrients.

But in fact, the opposite is true – the cause is over watering succulents.

Root Rot in Overwatered Succulent

How to Fix Root Rot in an Overwatered Succulent

Once you have removed your succulent plant from the container, the first thing that you need to do is to shake the excess soil from the roots.

Discard the soil as it may be infected with fungi. Also, wash the container thoroughly or get yourself a new pot.

Afterward, rinse the roots carefully and shake off any excess water.

Examine the roots, if root rot in your succulent plant is severe and has already damaged most parts of the root.

Next, carefully cut off any rotted roots – they’ll be brown or black in color.

Now place your succulent plant on a screen or a strainer for about two days to let the roots dry completely. 

Meanwhile, prepare the container for your succulent with fresh soil (or succulent mix). In order to ensure more safety, you can also treat it with a copper fungicide as well.

Repotting Overwatered Succulent

What to Do To Prevent Overwatering Your Succulent?

Once you have replanted your succulent plant that just recovered, you don’t need to water it again instantly. Wait for about a few days to about a week and perform the following.

Water the Succulent Plants Sensibly

In order to prevent adding too much water to the succulent plants, take some precautionary measures. One of the most important ones is proper watering techniques.

This means the best way to water your succulents sensibly is to create a schedule to prevent frequent watering and make sure you stick to it.

After repotting, and a few days have passed and you still see dead leaves, especially on the plant’s upper leaves, consider it a red flag.

The culprit this time can be either too much water or not enough.  

Avoid Over Watering

As mentioned, following a watering schedule can help you a great deal in order to keep your plants from being overwatered in the future.

Bear in mind that your watering schedule will also vary depending upon the climate of your area. 

In a place with more humidity, the plant will need less water and vice versa.

Moreover, your schedule should also change with seasons as in summers you’ll need to water your plant more frequently than in winters.

The best way to make sure whether a plant needs water or not is to check the soil each time before watering. You can also use a chopstick or a knife to check the soil in your pot.

Other than that, the soil that you used for replantation can also cause some problems. If you experience the same signs as leaves start to appear translucent and yellowish and fell soggy and mushy.

Then, the problem is yet again overwatering. You should also look for the black spots as well as it also happens many times in overwatered succulents.

The best method that you can follow is not to water your succulent until the soil is completely dried.

You do not want wet soil!

Keep in mind that most succulents can easily stay healthy for a few days (4 to 7 days) without water.

If you see any rotting – even if you’re following proper watering techniques – we recommend you cut back on watering succulents.

Consider replacing your soil with a succulent mix or fresh succulent soil with some cactus mix or coarse sand.

An easy solution to prevent overwatering your plant is to get a self-watering succulent planter. We suggest this self-watering planter as we’ve had some good success with them.

Ten-stone 17 Inch Rectangular Self Watering Planter Indoor,Windowsill Herb Planter Box,...
  • This rectangle plant pot with a visual water level window, you can easily...
  • There is a drain hole on the side, you can open it outdoors without letting...
  • Suitable for your indoor and outdoor porch windowsill table and other...

Avoid Under Watering

As mentioned, under watering can also be the culprit if your succulent plants appear to be sick. That’s because many succulent plants are equally sensitive to under watering as well.

There are some species of some succulents that need more watering as compared others, so it’s important to learn about the type of succulent plants you have.  

There is a rule of thumb that if the upper leaves are beginning to appear dry with wrinkles, it most likely means that you need to water them. 

You also may notice that leaves start to shed because the plant is trying to conserve moisture.

Don’t Place Your Overwatered Succulent Under Direct Sunlight

You might already be thinking that in order to dry the succulent quickly, placing it under direct sunlight can be a great idea. In fact, it is actually more harmful to the succulent.

That’s because the plant is already trying to rid of the excess moisture in its leaves and stem. Direct sunlight will exacerbate the ridding of excess water.

Most succulents do best under indirect sunlight or partial sunlight.

Related post: Best Succulents that Do Not Need Much Sunlight

Pro Tip: placing the plant in a dry place where it’s also exposed to bright indirect sunlight can increase the healthy recovery process. Additionally, avoid placing your sick succulents in a damp place.

Observe Water Drainage

If you don’t want to face another issue with your succulent, then observing the drainage is essential. You can also use the pot or a container with multiple drainage holes to improve the drainage process.

This way, the excessive water will drain at a faster rate to help the root system recover quickly.

We particularly like this pot for our succulents because it looks good and it also drains well.

10 inch Rectangular Modern Minimalist Turquoise Ceramic Succulent Planter Pot/Window Box...
  • Bring clean lines and minimalist style to your home decor with this modern...
  • Features a distinctive rectangular design, a removable draining tray, and 2...
  • Perfectly for displaying live potted plants, flowers, or even home decor...

Use Fresh Soil

Using fresh soil for your overwatered succulent plants is also very important because the old soil may possibly harm the plant – especially when it’s struggling to recover.

But if you use a good quality succulent mix, you’ll not need to dump the old soil completely, as scooping out only the infected soil will do the magic.

It’s also important to use well-draining soil instead of the general potting one. Here’s the most useful mixture that you should use for your succulent plants.

  • One-part pumice, perlite peat moss or coco coir
  • Two parts coarse sand
  • Three parts potting mix

Alternatively, we suggest this soil because it is specifically designed for succulent plants – plus we have had great success planting our own succulents in it.

Hoffman 10404 Organic Cactus and Succulent Soil Mix, 4 Quarts, Brown/A
  • Organic cactus and succulent soil mix
  • Professionally formulated for use with both jungle and desert cacti
  • Provides the drainage cacti need to flourish; ready to use; pH balanced

The Last Resort: Propagating to Grow a New Plant

Your final option is to grow a new plant by saving what is not rotted and cloning your sick plant by propagating the mother plant into new plants.

Be warned that if the plant has already been rotted down to the meristem tissue – you’ll definitely see discoloration – it means that these rotted portions can not be used for propagating.

The meristem tissue is responsible for the new growth of roots and leaves. So, don’t expect rotted meristem tissue to develop into new succulent growth.  

But the leaves on the other side might appear healthy, which are located above the stem rot of the plant.

You can stem cut or remove these healthy leaves and let them heal for a few days but definitely about a week or less.

This way, they will form a callus which you’ll need to plant by following the best practices to plant your succulent. 

Related post: How to Propagate Snake Plants Three Different Ways

Tips to Keep Your Plant Healthy

Regardless of the situation, the problem of overwatering succulent will happen.

A few things to remember, you can minimize its frequency and damage by following the best practices mentioned below.

  • Always consider planting your plant in the fresh and proper soil
  • Keep an eye on the health of your plant with your sight and touch senses
  • Water your plant only when it’s needed (when the soil is dry)
  • Pluck the plant from the soil even if you have the slightest doubt regarding their health to examine roots and stem properly
  • Radically remove the rotting parts (stem, roots, leaves), if necessary, to save the remaining plant
  • If there is a root or deep stem rot, then discard the infected parts and used soil and make sure that the flesh is firm and healthy and plant it in another pot with fresh soil
  • If you desire, you can propagate the firm and healthy leaves into new plants

Conclusions

A succulent collection will undoubtedly make our surroundings a better and more pleasant place to live.

If you’re a succulent plant enthusiast, you’d already know that they add more beauty and character to your home.

Follow these practical and effective steps to diagnose whether you have an overwatered succulent plant. If there are signs of overwatering, immediately take action – even if you have any doubt.

It will allow you to help save your rotting and dying succulents before things get out of control. 

This guide will help you to understand how give good succulent care and deal with any overwatered succulents.

For other general tips, check out our other post on how to care for succulents guide.

Lastly, we hope that it will also allow you to grow healthier and more beautiful succulents by keeping all these details in mind.

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