Why Are My Succulents Dying?

Why Are My Succulents Dying?

For most of us who love having plants in our home, we have been provided conflicting information about succulents. Some people praise the ease of growing and taking care of these plants, but others believe them to be challenging to keep alive and well. As with most things in life, the truth about succulents lies somewhere in the middle.

The most common reason for the failing health of your succulents is due to overwatering. Unlike most other plants, most succulents do not require significant amounts of water, which may feel unusual for people who are not used to these species. 

While overwatering is by far the most ubiquitous reason for succulents dying, it is not the only challenge that these beautiful plants present. Read on to learn how to ensure your succulents health so that they will thrive for many seasons to come!

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How to Tell If I’m Overwatering

Woman Watering Succulent Plants

It’s easy just to say that succulents can’t handle overwatering, but you may be wondering how to recognize the signs to determine if that’s the issue or if you can rule it out. The most apparent indication of overwatering is leaves dying on the top of your plant.

It’s important to note that, like all plants, the leaves of your succulents will naturally wither and fall off throughout their lifespan. However, the natural loss of leaves will be towards the bottom of the plant as new leaves develop at the plant’s top. This progression is a natural part of the lifespan of most vegetation, and overwatering shows itself by the symptom of leaves on the top of the plant beginning to wither and die. 

Touch the leaves of your succulents to determine if they feel squishy or soggy. If they do, immediately stop watering and research the particular variety of succulent (like the jade plant or aloe vera plant) that you have to find out how regularly it needs to be watered. Consider creating a schedule based on this information to ensure that you are only watering your plants when they need to be watered. 

It is vital to remember that not all plants are created equal, and if you want to ensure the success of your succulent garden, you will need to accommodate each individual species’ needs.

How to Find The Right Planting Container

Succulent Plant in Pot

Although overwatering is a highly prevalent cause of succulents dying, it is far from the only reason. If you have reviewed your plant garden’s watering schedule and ensured that it is correct, but they are still not coping well, the next step is to check their planting container. 

Many succulent owners like to place their plants inside aesthetically pleasing containers to suit their endearing nature. However, succulents require specific qualities in their planting containers, so it is vital to either place your succulents inside more traditional containers or adapt their existing containers to suit their needs.

These needs generally fall into two different categories regarding planting containers. The first is the importance of drainage. 


Looking online, it’s not uncommon to see succulent owners placing their plants inside of teacups or other cute containers. Unfortunately, these containers can be very detrimental to the health of your succulents. This need ties into the exact requirements of their watering schedule. 

Remember that succulents are a variety of cactus, and they cannot handle standing water without it adversely affecting their health. If you water your succulents according to their needs and schedule, but their container does not have suitable drainage holes for excess water to escape, they will be unable to thrive in that environment. 

If you can’t add drainage holes to your existing succulent container, consider moving them to another pot with premade holes. Suppose you really want to keep them in your aesthetically pleasing container. In that case, you can use netting or similar material like pantyhose to hold the soil in place but still allow water drainage.

Container Size

A considerable part of succulents’ appeal is their appearance when they are tucked into a container that matches their small size. Unfortunately, although it may seem like your plants fit nicely into these tiny containers, succulents require plenty of room for their roots to grow in order to thrive.

The basic requirements in terms of the size of your succulent planting container should include the following:

  • The container’s depth should at least twice as deep as the roots of the plant already extend.
  • The container’s width should be at least three times as wide as the existing root structure’s width.

You may find that some of your existing containers don’t quite meet the mark by following these requirements. However, if you want to ensure the growth of your succulents, you may need to consider transplanting them into larger containers to give them space to thrive.

This consideration also applies to succulent gardens, which are large shared containers with many different varieties of succulents inside of them. Quite often, newcomers to growing these delicate plants crowd them together inside these large containers to make them as aesthetically pleasing as possible. However, you will be doing your plants a favor if you allocate plenty of space to each succulent inside of their container and allow them to grow to fill the area naturally. 

What About My Succulent’s Soil?

Potting a Succulent Plant

If you have followed the steps so far, but your succulents are still struggling, it may be time to review the soil itself. More so than most plants, succulents require nutrient-rich soil to flourish, and generic potting soil may not be enough on its own. Depending on what kind of stores you have access to, you may be able to buy specific cactus or succulent potting soil from your local garden center. Don’t worry if you can’t, though, as you improve your existing potting soil with the addition of organic matter and minerals!

If you can’t purchase potting soil specific to succulents, try to mix in some compost or other organic matter, in addition to mineral components like perlite. Perlite, in particular, can be effective by creating further aeration in the soil and promoting drainage. 

Balancing Your Succulents Temperature

Potted Succulent in the Sun

As mentioned above, your succulents are a kind of cactus, and like most cacti, they enjoy warm weather and plenty of sunlight, but above all, they need consistency. Your succulents will thrive if they stay away from drafty windows and parts of your home where the weather and the temperature keep changing. 

Try to position them in a place where they will receive consistent sunlight, but open windows won’t affect them. Also, keep the seasons in mind based on where you live. If you live in a climate with hot summers and cold winters, the windowsill that your succulents live on throughout the hotter months will likely not be a suitable place when the weather begins to turn. 

Treat your plants with the attention and the respect that they need to live. While many people invest in succulents because they have heard that they require little maintenance and upkeep, the fact of the matter is that these plants are living things and always require a certain degree of focus.

Succulent Satisfaction

While succulents may not be the plant-and-forget project that many people believe them to be, they are still one of the easier plants to manage as long as you keep their needs in mind. Keep this article handy, and read through it whenever you find one of your succulents beginning to suffer. With a little bit of attention to their needs, your gorgeous garden will be able to thrive and succeed!

Kate Inskeep

Kate Inskeep is a mom of three from Illinois who loves growing things. She fell in love with houseplants after a friend gifted her some succulents. Before long, her windowsills were full of plants, and she was hooked.

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