How To Revive A Dying Succulent Plant (10 Easy Fixes)

Succulents, with their captivating appearance and reputation for minimal care, have become beloved indoor plants for both novice and experienced plant enthusiasts. However, even the most hardy plants can face challenges, and reviving a dying succulent requires a tailored approach. In this guide, we will walk you through the steps to breathe new life into your struggling succulent. From understanding the basics of succulent care to identifying and solving common issues, you’ll be equipped with the knowledge to revive your succulent and restore it to its former glory.

Succulent plants in new pots after being repotted, surrounded by gardening tools.

Basics of Succulent Care

To successfully revive a succulent, it’s crucial to have a solid understanding of the fundamental aspects of succulent care. These key principles serve as the bedrock upon which you can build a thriving and healthy plant. By mastering the basics, you’ll not only nurse your struggling succulent back to health but also prevent future issues from arising.

1. Understanding the Natural Habitat:

Succulents are nature’s adaptation to arid and semiarid environments, where water is scarce and conditions can be harsh. This innate adaptability is what makes succulents such unique and fascinating plants to grow. By understanding the conditions they naturally thrive in, you’ll be better equipped to provide the care they need.

2. Providing Adequate Light:

Succulents are sun-loving plants that have evolved to thrive under intense sunlight. When considering their light requirements, it’s important to strike a balance between too much and too little. Placing your succulent in a location where it receives bright, indirect light is optimal. This can be a windowsill with filtered light or a spot that receives several hours of morning sunlight.

3. Mindful Watering:

The way succulents store water is one of their defining characteristics. However, this water storage can also be a source of potential trouble. Overwatering is a common mistake that succulent enthusiasts make, often stemming from the assumption that succulents require minimal care. While they’re more forgiving than other plants, proper watering is still crucial.

Water your succulent thoroughly but infrequently. Allow the soil to dry out between waterings, which prevents the roots from sitting in waterlogged soil. Testing the soil moisture with your finger or a moisture meter can help you determine when it’s time to water again.

4. Selecting Well-Draining Soil:

The type of soil you choose for your succulent plays a significant role in its overall health. Regular potting soil retains moisture for longer periods, which can be detrimental to succulents. To mimic their natural environment, opt for a well-draining succulent mix. You can create your own mix by combining potting soil with materials like sand, perlite, or pumice. This blend encourages excess water to drain away from the roots, preventing rot.

5. Temperature and Humidity:

Succulents flourish in moderate to warm temperatures. While they can withstand a range of conditions, they are generally sensitive to extreme cold and frost. If you live in an area with colder winters, consider bringing your outdoor succulents indoors or providing them with some protection. Additionally, succulents appreciate lower humidity levels, which align with the arid environments they naturally thrive in.

6. Regular Pruning and Maintenance:

Keeping your succulent well-maintained is essential for its overall health and appearance. Pruning not only removes dead leaves but also encourages new growth. Trim off any succulent leaves that have turned yellow or become mushy, as these can attract pests or spread disease. Regularly cleaning the leaves with a soft brush or cloth also helps the plant breathe and prevents the accumulation of dust.

A collection of succulent plants in different colored pots.

Common Causes for Dying Succulents and How to Revive Them

Succulents, known for their adaptability and resilience, can still face challenges that affect their health. Identifying these issues, understanding their causes, and implementing effective solutions are crucial steps in reviving a dying succulent. Let’s delve deeper into the most common reasons succulents die, exploring their identification, causes, and remedies.

1. Overwatering and Poor Drainage:

Identification: Mushy leaves, black spots, and a foul odor near the soil are telltale signs of root rot caused by an overwatered succulent. These symptoms occur when excess moisture becomes a breeding ground for fungal pathogens, compromising the plant’s root system. For help diagnosing whether your succulent has root rot, read our helpful guide ‘What Does Root Rot Look Like In Succulents? (Easy Guide)‘.

Causes: Enthusiastic watering or using pots without drainage holes can lead to poor drainage and overwatering. Over time, water accumulates at the bottom of the pot, suffocating the roots and causing damage.

Solution: To revive a succulent that has been overwatered, it needs to be repotted in well-draining soil and a new pot with drainage holes. Gently remove the plant from its current pot, trim any affected roots, and allow the plant to recover before repotting. A pot with good drainage will prevent water from pooling, promoting healthier root growth. Adjust your watering routine by allowing the soil to dry out between waterings. A finger test or moisture meter can help you determine the right time to water.

2. Insufficient Light:

Identification: Succulents stretching or leaning towards the light source, along with pale or etiolated growth, indicate inadequate light. In their natural habitat, succulents receive ample sunlight, and a lack of it can lead to weakened growth.

Causes: Placing succulents in low-light areas or inadequate light exposure can result in poor growth and stretching. This occurs as the plant stretches towards the available light in an attempt to photosynthesize effectively.

Solution: To ensure the succulent has enough light, relocate the succulent to a spot with bright, indirect sunlight. Rotate the plant periodically to ensure even exposure on all sides. If you’re growing succulents indoors, consider using artificial grow lights that mimic natural sunlight. These lights can provide the necessary light spectrum for healthy succulent growth, especially in spaces with limited natural light.

3. Pest Infestations:

Identification: Yellowing leaves, tiny webs, or sticky residue on the plant are signs of pest infestations such as spider mites or mealybugs. These unwanted guests can weaken the plant and spread to other succulents if not addressed promptly.

Causes: Pests can be introduced through new plants or poor quarantine practices. Additionally, bringing outdoor plants indoors can inadvertently introduce pests to your indoor succulents.

Solution: Treating pest infestations involves a multifaceted approach. To revive your succulent, start by isolating the affected succulent to prevent the infestation from spreading. Inspect the plant thoroughly, paying close attention to the undersides of leaves and the base of the plant. Treat the succulent with neem oil or insecticidal soap, ensuring full coverage. Repeat the treatment as needed, usually over the course of several weeks. Regularly monitor your other plants for signs of infestations and quarantine new plants before introducing them to your collection.

4. Underwatering:

Identification: Shriveled, wrinkled leaves and slow growth are indicators of the succulent not having enough water. While succulents have adapted to be drought-tolerant plants, chronic underwatering can stress the plant and hinder its growth.

Causes: Infrequent or insufficient watering can lead to dehydration and stress. In some cases, succulents may not show immediate signs of distress, making it challenging to identify the problem until symptoms become more apparent.

Solution: The best way to revive a succulent that has been underwatered is to gradually increase the watering frequency. When you water, ensure that the soil is thoroughly moistened. However, avoid soaking the soil excessively, as succulents prefer to dry out between waterings. Maintaining a consistent watering schedule, even during their dormant period, ensures your succulent receives the hydration it needs for optimal growth.

5. Poor Air Circulation:

Identification: Yellow leaves, discolored patches, and a general lack of vitality can indicate poor air circulation around your succulent.

Causes: Stagnant air can lead to moisture accumulation on the leaves and create an environment conducive to fungal growth. Over time, this can weaken the plant’s overall health.

Solution: Ensure your succulent is placed in an area with adequate air circulation. Avoid crowding plants too closely together, especially in humid environments. Gentle air movement from a fan or open windows can help prevent excess moisture buildup and improve the overall health of your succulent.

6. Root Bound Conditions:

Identification: Slow growth, cramped root systems protruding from the drainage holes, and reduced overall health are indicators of a root-bound succulent.

Causes: Over time, succulents can outgrow their pots, leading to densely packed roots that have limited space to grow. This hampers nutrient absorption and can cause the plant to become stressed.

Solution: If you notice signs of root-bound conditions, it’s time to repot your succulent into a larger container. Gently loosen the root ball and trim any circling roots to encourage new growth. Choose a pot that provides ample space for the roots to expand, and ensure it has proper drainage. After repotting, allow your succulent time to adjust to its new space before resuming regular care routines.

7. Fungal Diseases:

Identification: Powdery white or gray spots, brown patches, or unusual growth on leaves can indicate the presence of a fungal disease such as powdery mildew or leaf spot.

Causes: Fungal diseases thrive in environments with excess moisture and poor air circulation. Overhead watering, high humidity, or using contaminated tools can contribute to the spread of these diseases.

Solution: To revive a succulent that has a fungal disease, adjust your watering routine to minimize overhead watering and avoid wetting the foliage. Improve air circulation by providing adequate spacing between plants and using a fan. If fungal symptoms are present, remove affected leaves promptly and treat the plant with a fungicide. Quarantine affected plants to prevent the disease from spreading to others.

8. Improper Temperature Extremes:

Identification: Discoloration, browning, or damage to the leaves can indicate that your succulent has been exposed to extreme temperatures, either too hot or too cold.

Causes: Placing succulents in environments with temperature extremes that are outside their tolerance range can cause stress and damage to the plant’s cells.

Solution: Understand the temperature preferences of your specific succulent species. Shield your plants from direct exposure to extreme heat or cold, especially during heatwaves or cold snaps. During winter, bring outdoor succulents indoors or provide protection from frost. Create a stable microclimate for your succulents by using temperature-regulating tools like shade cloths or frost cloth.

9. Nutrient Deficiency:

Identification: Yellowing leaves, stunted growth, or fading leaf color can indicate that your succulent is not receiving adequate nutrients.

Causes: Over time, the nutrients in the potting mix may become depleted, especially if your succulent has been in the same pot for an extended period. Additionally, using a potting mix that lacks essential nutrients can contribute to nutrient deficiency.

Solution: Consider repotting your succulent using fresh, nutrient-rich succulent soil mix. You can also supplement your succulent’s diet with a diluted, balanced liquid fertilizer during the growing season. Follow the recommended application rates and frequency on the fertilizer label to avoid over-fertilizing, which can be detrimental to your succulent’s health.

10. Overcrowding and Competition:

Identification: Succulents growing close together, struggling for space, and showing reduced growth or vigor are signs of overcrowding and competition.

Causes: Over time, as succulents grow, they can become overcrowded, leading to root competition for nutrients and space. This can hinder their growth and overall health.

Solution: Regularly assess the spacing between your succulents and provide adequate room for each plant to grow. If you notice overcrowding, consider repotting or dividing larger clusters of succulents into separate pots. This allows each plant to have sufficient access to nutrients, water, and sunlight, promoting healthier growth and reducing competition.

Small succulent plant in nursery pot

In the world of plant care, challenges can arise even for the hardiest of succulents. The good news is that there’s always a way to revive a succulent and restore it to its former beauty. Armed with knowledge about succulent care basics and the ability to address common issues, you can guide your struggling plant towards growing new leaves. Each succulent is unique, so be patient, observant, and adaptable. With a little TLC and the right interventions, you can witness their transformation from weakened to thriving. Whether you’re combating overwatering, insufficient light, pest infestations, or other challenges, remember that you’re not alone in this journey. Each step you take to revive your succulent brings life back to a remarkable plant that has adapted to survive. Through your good care, your succulent can flourish once again, reminding you of its enduring beauty and the incredible journey to regain health.

Scroll to Top