Succulents are low maintenance plants that can adapt well to harsh conditions. However, they are sensitive to various doses of watering and shows numerous color changes as a result of the sensitivities. So…
Why Succulent leaves are turning black? The most common reason for which succulent leaves turn black is overwatering. Succulents are not like usual tropical home plants that need to be watered regularly. They are xerophytes plants that are naturally adapted to drought conditions. If you see the leaves turning black it can mean that the succulent is slowly rotting up through the roots cause it’s receiving too much water.
So the best way to make any plant species thrive is to provide them with care and an environment as close to as its native place. Succulents are extremely sensitive to overwatering and doing that continuously will slowly kill your plant.
Why my Succulent leaves are turning black and falling off?
Well, there is no need to get alarmed because plants naturally shed leaves and branches from time to time and those are replaced with newer ones.
However, you need to see if those leaves feel extremely dry, crisp or they seem moist, wet, and fluffy.
- If it’s the first case then the plant may be underwatered. If it’s the latter then the plant is being overwatered.
- Luckily underwatering is quite easy to fix. You just need to take a proper look at your watering schedule and water the plant more frequently.
If the leaves are turning yellowish at the tip of the plant, it’s likely that the plant is suffering from nutritional deficiency.
In the case of overwatering, leaves will change color starting from the bottom. The most common reason succulent leaves turn black is because of overwatering.
If the symptoms match overwatering then it’s a bit tough to solve as it will depend upon a lot of factors as discussed below.
How do you know if your succulent is overwatered?
- The leaves will feel extremely moist and saggy.
- The leaves will drop off easily when touched
- The leaves are starting to get a yellowish or blackish vibe especially from the bottom
- The stem and the leaves can look pale
- In the worst-case scenario, you will find the odor of root rot coming off the soil
How do you fix Overwatered succulents? What to do if your succulents start turning black?
Stop watering the plant for about a week and see if the conditions improve or not.
- After a week use a moisture meter or your fingers to determine the dryness of the soil. If the soil feels dry then go ahead and water them. However, if the soil still feels wet then consider changing the soil.
If you see no improvement, Repot the succulent in fresh soil after keeping it under shade for a day or two. This process is termed healing.
- While repotting carefully remove the traces of old soil from the roots. Also, give a thorough look for signs of root rot. If the roots feel mushy and wet and look worn out and black then you need to do a bit of cutting with sterile scissors and get rid of all the affected parts.
Use proper succulent friendly soil, keep it in a place where it receives adequate indirect sunlight.
- Wait for around 4 to 7 days and then start watering the plant only when the soil feels dry hereon.
How to know if your succulent has root rot?
Well, it will be prominent based on the symptoms. The growth will be stunted. The succulent will look worn out. The lower body leaves will slowly turn black or yellow and the leaves will fall off very easily. There will be black spots developing on the stem.
You can then pluck the succulent out of the soil carefully and remove the wet soil attached with the roots. Now have a proper look at the roots. If they have turned black or brown and feel mushy it is quite evident that it has been rotten.
What you can do to save your succulent from the rot?
- Well firstly, collect as many healthy leaves as you can and consider propagating with them
Now try the “No watering method” for at least a week and see what happens. However, this method will work best if the rot has not spread to the stem and the leaves.
- What you can do best in this situation is to totally repot the succulent after keeping it unplugged off the soil for a few days. Even after repotting in the new soil wait for a week or so before watering it.
While carrying out this repotting process if you find the roots are still black and rotten then go ahead and try trimming the affected areas. Make sure that there are no black spots left on the plant body. Always keep the plant under shade for a few days before you repot it for healing. This step is immensely important and never skip it.
If you need a helping hand while trimming the rotten portions of the succulent roots then refer to the below video…
By going through with this method you are giving your plant a chance to recover.
If everything goes alright then it will recover and continue to grow in the new pot. However if it does not survive by any chance, you already have propagated the unaffected leaves and stems which can grow into a new plant very soon.
How to prevent Root Rot in the future
- Grow your succulent in a proper succulent friendly soil mix that favors drainage. You can use cactus mix soil for growing all your succulents. Alternatively, you can make your own potting mix at home. Mix 25% potting soil with 40% coarse sand and 35% pumice and other crashed granites, volcanic rocks, and pebbles.
- Design your pots for better drainage. Instead of using plastic pots consider using terra cotta pots as the latter absorbs water faster from the soil. Also, have drainage holes at the bottom which will help in getting rid of water much faster.
- Only water succulent when the soil is dry. I cannot stress how important this is. If you can take anything away from this post then it is this point! Use a moisture meter to be sure of the soil dryness. Alternatively, use your fingers.
How do you revive a dying succulent?
Most times, overwatered succulents can easily come back to their earlier state with proper care and patience. But it depends a lot on the kind of damage the plant has already taken in and on its current condition.
- If you give a gap of not watering for a week and keep them in a proper place with adequate indirect sunlight, this will just provide them with enough time to get better, if root rot has not occurred yet.
- Here on only water the succulent when the potting soil is dry. They can put up with underwatering but not overwatering. So when in doubt avoid watering.
- Make sure that the potting soil is drainage friendly and has a greater content of inorganic components than organic ones. It’s best if the pot has drainage holes at the bottom. You can also check soil dryness by checking the dampness of the holes after a few days.
However, if your succulent is already in a bad shape then consider propagation by plucking as many healthy leaves as you can with the base intact. You can even use the stem if you want. Only use leaves or stems that are totally green and are not brown or black and do not show signs of distinct paleness.
How to Propagate succulents from leaf and stem cuttings
- Keep the leaves or stem cutting under the shade where it receives just enough sunlight to get dry for a few days. This is the callusing phase which is extremely vital for proper growth later on.
- Then take the callused plant leaves or stems and plant them in fresh draining potting mixture soil.
- Keep them like this for a few days and place them near a window where it gets indirect sunlight.
- After a few days start misting the soil and continue this process whenever the soil feels dry.
- With proper luck, roots will slowly emerge and a new plant will come out through the soil. After the roots develop, give up on misting completely and start watering properly.
You can also refer to the below video on how to propagate succulents properly…
So what is the right way to water succulents?
All succulents are different and the watering needs of the plant depend on the type of succulent it is. So firstly you should:
- Contact the nursery or garden home from where you brought the succulent and learn everything you possibly can regarding providing the right kind of care to your plant. This includes the amount of sunlight it needs, the fertilizer you should use, whether it grows actively during the hotter months or the winter months, etc.
- Use the power of the internet to know a bit more about your succulent variety in minute details to understand its needs better.
Roughly you can stick to the process of watering your succulents only when the soil feels dry. This will ensure that you never overwater your plants. Again try to have really good drainage-friendly soil that gets rid of the water fast. The more time the succulent sits in damp conditions, the greater the chances are for acquiring root rot.
The watering frequency will have to be changed during the colder months as the soil will take time to dry up.
- 5 Reasons Why You Should Not Water Succulents at Night
- When Should Succulents be Watered? (At What Time of the Day)
While watering you should aim for the stem base and the soil instead of the leaves and branches. Succulents absorb water through the roots and watering the leaves heavily is kind of pointless and can also lead to fungal infections as they prefer moist surfaces to grow on.
- Use a succulent watering sprinkler which will provide you with better control.
How often should indoor succulents be watered?
How frequently you need to water your succulents depends on many variables like:
- The type and size of the succulent
- Whether it is placed inside or outside
- The kind of soil you have put it in
Roughly most succulents having proper exposure to sunlight and drainage friendly soil like to get watered once every 5 days or once a week in the summer months and once in 9-18 days in winter.
The best way to figure out your watering schedule is to figure out how long it takes for the potting soil to dry up properly both on the upper surface and deep down. You can use a moisture checker tool to figure this out or you can just put your finger down the soil 2 or 3 days after watering and see if it still feels damp or dry.
Best Watering Tips for succulents
- Have drainage holes below the pot and this is extremely vital as, without proper drainage in place, it will lead to waterlogged conditions that will rot the roots and end up killing the plant. If your pot has no holes, go ahead and make small sized 3 to 4 holes at the bottom.
- Instead of using Tap water if possible use distilled water or water from reverse osmosis filters. Tap water contains uncontrolled amounts of magnesium, calcium, chlorine, etc. which will accumulate in the soil and end up disturbing the growth and later on the health of the plant
- Avoid watering in the afternoon or late in the evening as the succulent will stay in waterlogged conditions for a long time if you water them around sunset. If you wanna know more about what time you should water your succulents, consider this guide.
Watering Succulents is a bit different than watering other tropical plants. They are highly sensitive to overwatering and hate wet soil. Overwatering can cause succulent leaves turning black or even turning yellow or purple.
So by taking basic precautions like Using succulent friendly soil, Having drainage holes in the pot, Only watering when the soil feels dry, and placing the succulents someplace sunny you can save a great deal of damage from occurring.