succulent in shock

Can Succulents Go Into Shock?(Identification & Recovery Tips)

Like animals, even plants can go into a state of shock or stress. It can be due to a variety of reasons ranging from environmental causes to basic caring practices. Let’s take a deeper look at this topic. So…

Can succulents go into shock? Succulents can definitely get stressed especially due to nutritional, watering, and light related causes. Transplanting is yet another reason for which succulents can go into shock. Immediate measures must be taken to make sure the succulent does not die and seemingly transitions into its healthier state.

Firstly What Does “Going into Shock” Mean for plants?

Succulents like all plants were never meant to be plucked from one to place another and grow in a new medium. They grow and die in the exact same place in their natural habitats.

So the moment they are shifted from one place to another, they are exposed to totally new environmental conditions and hence they find themselves under stress.

Stress can occur owing to many circumstances however transplant shock is very commonly seen to occur in the case of the home and garden growing succulents.

What is Transplant Shock?

  • When a succulent is being uprooted from the soil they have spent enormous time adjusting to, its root system gets hurt in most cases if care is not being taken.
  • When you plant it in a new pot with a new potting medium, it is exposed to a totally foreign environment and the plant needs to start the process of adjusting and adapting to the new conditions again.
  • Moreover, it needs to heal itself from the damage that has been done during the transplanting process before it can return to its earlier healthy condition.

This is what a succulent which is in shock goes through frequently after the transplanting process.

What are the Common Reasons for which Succulents Go Into Shock?

The most common reasons behind a succulent going into shock include:

  • Insect or Microbial Manifestation and infection
  • Physical damage during transplantation
  • Sudden change in weather or temperature
  • Nutritional deficiency in the soil
  • Overwatering or underwatering
  • Exposure to full sun

“How do I know if my succulent is in shock?”

The most common symptoms of transplant stress in the succulents include

  • Wilting of the leaves
  • Yellowing of the leaves
  • Increase in the shedding of leaves and flowers
  • Curling of the leaves
  • The succulent will look dull and will lose its vibrancy

Stress due to full sun exposure

  • Sunburn on the leaf and stem surfaces.
  • Browning of the leaves along with many faded spots on the stem and branches

Stress caused by other environmental conditions or wrongful caring

  • Black patches can develop on the stems owing to frost damage or overwatering problems.
  • When you bring a succulent home from a nursery it can be under stress as its environment is changed suddenly.
  • Only leaf discoloration even though the plant looks healthy can be a sign of nutritional deficiency (source).
  • Stunted growth is a common sign that the plant needs more sun.

Why does the succulent show these symptoms when in stress?

Shock Due to Transplant

When the succulent is transplanted from one place to another, its root system can get damaged to some extent.

  • Also often times their root system is not extensive enough as a result of which the succulent won’t be able to absorb the water and nutrient from the soil in a proper way which will directly get reflected upon the plant health as a whole.

Malnourishment will result in lesser energy production and hence the succulent will start getting rid of plant parts to make the best of their situation.

Shock Due to Overexposure to the sun

Succulents generally prefer indirect sun for optimal growth. In times when the succulents are exposed to extreme sun, they respond variably to that.

There are some succulents that can tolerate full sun however most others start showing signs of stress initially right after they are placed under the sun. This is because the chlorophyll in the leaves starts breaking down as a result it starts turning brown (source).

Stress Due to Sudden Condition or Temperature change

Succulents need some time to adjust to the adjacent weather conditions. If you change their locations frequently it can go into a state of shock as it will have a hard time understanding the conditions.

So make sure you have them placed in a location that gets enough indirect sun. If winter is really cold in your place, bring the plants indoors right after the fall even before the temperature starts dropping otherwise the sudden temperature drop can affect their growth( unless they are cold hardy like in the case of Hens and chicks).

How long does it take for a succulent to recover from transplant shock?

It totally depends on the extent and the cause of the stress. Under most circumstances of a transplant shock, the succulent if put under optimum care can break out of it within 1 or 2 weeks.

However, if the root damage was severe (maybe it had to be trimmed owing to root rot) it can be really tricky and hard to predict. However, most nominal cases of stress like sunlight problems or locational changes can be easily sorted out if you take notice of the issue quickly.

How to Get your succulent Out of shock?

The only way to get your plant out of shock is by giving it the time to recover and to provide it with the best possible care.

  • As per Gardeningknowhow, adding a solution mixed with sugar and water helps in easing the transplanting shock right after the transplanting process. However, this is not a guaranteed way to prevent shock. You can refer to the following video if you want…

  • Giving the succulent a few days to recover and adjust in their new growing medium before watering them is regarded as a good idea. Read this post for more: Do You Water Succulents After Repotting or Before Planting?
  • Keep them near a south or east-facing window from where it can get enough sun. Water it 4 to 7 days after planting and then on only water when the soil feels dry.

If provided with the right care succulents can easily come out of the shock within a few days.

How to Safeguard and Prevent Your Succulent from getting in a shock in the future?

There is no way to guarantee that your succulents can never be in stress. Each succulent even though it belongs to the same variety is different and unique on its own.
Hence often times it is seen that the succulents living in the same area and belong to the same genus are adapting or reacting differently to the same conditions.
Even though you cant totally put off the equation of stress but you can minimize it considerably and make sure the succulent gets back on its feet quickly.


  • Hold the succulent with soft hands during transplanting it from one place to another especially during replanting it. Avoid bruising or hurting the plant and make sure the succulent doesn’t receive any major physical damage. Squeeze the succulent out from the soil using both hands and dont try plucking it out directly.
  • In case you have to trim roots or get rid of a considerable amount of roots( maybe due to pest manifestation or root rot) make sure you remove the affected leaves and branches as well. Even if the upper plant body is not affected it will be a good idea to remove some of the branches and leaves.

The logic behind this is as the root system is damaged, the succulent water and nutrition uptake through the roots will be affected.

So it will be hard for the plant to maintain a bigger structure. So removing or trimming the leaves and branches will hence help the succulent to recover in a better way as its management load will be reduced (source).

  • You should only transplant them right before their growing season so that they can overcome the stress and heal their damages faster.
  • In order to make the adjustment process easy, make sure the newly transplanted conditions are closer to the earlier environment i.e, the soil mix and drainage is more or less the same, the sunlight exposure all these are relatively the same.
  • You should only grow full sun-friendly succulents outdoors otherwise you run the risk of affecting their health. You can definitely grow the moderate or even low light friendly succulents under some kind of shade in the garden or indoors, you just need to make sure they dont get the direct sun.
  • If you wanna bring a full sun friendly succulent that you have been growing indoors to outdoors, dont bring it out directly as that will put it under shock. For a few days keep it out in the sun for about two hours and make it get accustomed to the heat slowly before transitioning it out under the sun.

Also Read: What Window is Best For Growing Healthy Succulents?

  • Bring the succulents indoors if the temperatures drop sharply in your place. Most succulents can tolerate a temperature of 10°C but anything below that is not good news for them.
  • Water the succulent 2 to 3 days before replanting it. Doing this will ensure the roots are sufficiently wet which will minimize the damage during the whole transfer process. If you water it right before transplanting the soil will cling onto the roots and it will be a hassle to get rid of the soil and to check the root health.
  • Water the succulents only when the soil feels dry. Use a moisture meter to be more systematic with this.


Succulents are highly adaptive plants and are more resilient to different kinds of stress and shocks than other plants. So even if they get into a shock if you act correctly chances are high that your plants will be okay. With the right measures, they can revert back to their earlier healthy condition within weeks.

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