How to Save an Overwatered Succulent

How to Save Succulent Plants from Overwatering

Succulent overwatering is a real concern and a challenge to sometimes diagnose and solve. We hope to help with the following information to guide you on overcoming and overwatered succulent.

Succulents are incredibly beautiful plants with thick, robust, and fleshy leaves in various colors. They come in various shapes, sizes and colors. They add a tropical vibe to any indoor space or garden and look lovely on the windowsill, the balcony and in your backyard where you have put them up.
You give them your best TLC, but then to your dread, you notice that despite your best efforts, your plants are losing leaves fast. They also appear sick and rotting. You have overwatered the succulent plants! Don’t beat yourself too much about it; it happens even to the most experienced gardeners who have spent years growing succulents.

If you are wondering if you can save your succulents, it really depends on how far the damage has progressed. If you catch an overwatered plant in its early stages, there is so much you can do to save that plant. There are a few things you can do to salvage some parts of your beloved plant. The leaves and stems can be propagated to bring up a new plant!

Now that’s good news! Before that, however, you need to know how to identify that your succulent plants have been overwatered. Only then can you take effective measures to fix it.

Common Signs of Overwatered Succulents

How can you tell if you have ended up overwatering your succulent? Watch out for these telltale signs that are a clear indication of overwatering and not something else.

Succulent plants are native to dry, arid regions which receive only occasional rainfall. They store excessive water in their roots, stems, and leaves. Too much water, either through a mishap with the watering schedule, rain, or improper soil conditions will cause the plant to rot and eventually die. 

A healthy succulent will have fleshy, robust, and plump leaves. The leaves will have a healthy color and be firm to touch.

Signs of overwatered succulent plants

  • The leaves will be light, pale and translucent in color.
  • The leaves will be soggy, mushy and feel all squishy and soft as opposed to firm
  • The leaves drop easily with just a light touch or slight sway.
  • The plant will look sickly.
The first sign that you have overwatered your plants is discoloration. The leaves will become yellow or pale from the bottom. The leaves become translucent because they are bursting with excess water.

If you continue to overwater your plant without being aware, the leaves could turn brown or black. In this stage, your succulent is rotting or enduring a fungal disease from too much water exposure. If you inspect the stem, it will be black, brown, or mushy. This means your plant is rotting from the roots up due to excess water. You need to take immediate measures if you don’t want to be left with a plant that is rotting and a mushy mess in a few days!

You will also notice a change in how the leaves feel. They will become soft and squishy. Healthy succulents feel like rubber to the touch. If you touch the plants even lightly, you will be dismayed with leaves falling off. If you notice floppy leaves, dig the plant right up. You will see that the stem too has a squishy discoloration and looks brown. Unfortunately, this means that stem rot has set in.

If your healthy succulent plants suddenly take on a sick appearance, it could be that the plant is growing in the wrong soil, which is draining poorly. Or, it could be that you are overwatering. It could be both these reasons as well.

How to Treat Overwatered Succulents

Saving your overwatered succulents can be a delicate but very rewarding process. It can be particularly when you see your plant looking fleshy, plump, and vibrant again. The earlier you intervene, the better.

Notice soft, soggy, mushy, and pale leaves at the bottom of your plant, your bland is drenching in too much water. You need to dry them out immediately.
  1. 1
    Remove the plant and completely get rid of the wet soil from the roots.
  2. 2
    You should allow the plant to dry out. Give it anywhere between 3 days to a week.
  3. 3
    Keep the plant in a bright, but dry place so that it gets enough lighting. Do not keep it in direct sunlight – this could burn the plant and the roots.
  4. 4
    Once your succulent plant is thoroughly dry, replant in a potting mix with proper drainage.
  5. 5
    You should give it a week before you water your plant again. This time around, ensure that you don’t overwater your plant!
  6. 6
    Give your plant a thorough soak while ensuring the excess water is draining out from the soil.
If you have been bringing up your plant in the proper potting mix, but you just overwatered your plant by mistake, you don’t have to repot your plant. Allow the plant to get bone dry before you water it next. This should take around a week.

Before you water again, inspect the top inch of the soil by sticking your finger in the soil. If it feels dry, go ahead and water. If there is some moisture, you will have to repot your plant as the soil is not drying out as quickly as you would like it to.

The leaves that you have lost will grow back soon. You will observe tiny leaves along the stems in a few weeks. This is as long as the leaves have not rotted. Sprouting new leaves means your plant is on the road to recovery.

Apart from the leaves, you can also save the stems that have suffered from overwatering. Here is how you can go about it.

Treating Stem Rot in Succulent Plants

If your succulent plant is exhibiting signs of stem rot, you can take parts of it and grow a new plant altogether. If you notice black and brown spots on the stem, you have a stem rot issue. 

You need to cut off all signs of rot on the stem. Then open the stem and look inside for any other signs at the core of the stem. You need to keep cutting till you remove all signs of rot. The healthy leaves on the stems can be propagated. Just follow the steps we outlined above.
  1. 1
    Examine the stem and chop off the rotting areas (this includes the roots as well). The green and viable parts of the stem should be kept intact. You can propagate it to grow a new plant.
  2. 2
    Put up the saved stems in a dry spot away from direct sunlight. Allow it to dry anywhere from three days to a week. The stem cups should develop callouses on the edges that were cut
  3. 3
    When totally dry, prepare a properly draining potting mix and put the stems in the soil.
  4. 4
    You should mist regularly, particularly when the soil feels dry.
  5. 5
    You should keep it in a warm spot, but avoid direct sunlight to prevent your plant from getting damaged due to overexposure to the sun.
If you notice roots developing from the areas of the stem that have been cut, it is a sign that your succulent is growing again! This will happen after a few weeks.

Treating Root Rot in Succulent Plants

If you suspect a root rot (one dead giveaway is your plant looking shriveled up because of lack of nutrients) you can still save your succulent plant as long as the rot is minimal.
  1. 1
    In case of root rot, you should dig the plant out and discard the used soil.
  2. 2
    You can get rid of excess soil by rinsing the plant root. The used soil is discarded as it may contain fungi.
  3. 3
    Wash the container properly to further eliminate the presence of fungi.
  4. 4
    If there is any excess water, squeeze it out completely.
  5. 5
    You should now remove all signs of rot in the roots. Cut the roots that show signs of rot. These should be discarded.
  6. 6
    Leave your succulent out of the container for a few days.
  7. 7
    Once the roots are dry, you can pot them once more.

Watering Tips to Avoid Over Watering your Succulents

If your succulent is showing signs of distress due to overwatering, worry not. You can save your plant with the steps we outlined above. It always pays to be on top of your water schedule though so that you can prevent a problem even before it occurs.
Here is how you can prevent overwatering to grow vibrant and robust-looking succulent plants.

Stay on track with your watering routine

Most people are unsure when they last watered their succulent plants. You need to be aware of the water requirement of your individual succulent plant and stick to a proper watering routine. 

For example, Aeoniums thrive on a lot of water, but lithops, echeveria, and Sedum burritos are sensitive to water and can easily rot when overwatered.

There are other factors you need to consider, including the temperature where you live, the time of the year, the growing season, etc. For instance, during summer, you will have to water your succulents once a week; during winter it’s enough if you water once a month. 

The growth period for succulents is best in the spring and summer. They need a lot of water during this time. But in winter, the plants are dormant and don’t need as much water.

You can invest in a moisture meter or a hygrometer to stay ahead of your watering game and know exactly when to give your succulent plants a good soak. We also recommend you use measuring cups, marked pitchers or a syringe with markings so that you know exactly how much water you are giving to your succulent plants.

You must always check the soil moisture before you water your plant. You can do this by sticking your fingers into the soil. If it feels moist, avoid watering; otherwise, you can go ahead and water.

Use the Right Soil

Succulent plants love a well-draining potting mix with time to dry out between watering sessions.
Proper soil mix forms the basis of healthy succulent growth. Regular potting mix will lead to rotting because the soil will retain moisture. A soil that drains well and has enough aeration is ideal for bringing up succulent plants.

If the soil the plants sit on doesn’t drain quickly, the roots will be exposed to wet soil for too long. Under these conditions, even if you provide the right amount of water, your plant will still suffer.

You can buy a succulent or cactus soil mix from the store near your place. Alternatively, you can also build your own succulent potting medium by blending 3 parts regular garden soil, 2 parts bark fines, and 1 part perlite, sand, peat moss, or pumice.

Use a pot or container with good drainage

You need to grow your succulent plants in a pot or container with good drainage. Holes at the bottom can help to eliminate excess water. You need to use a pot that is big enough so that the roots don’t sit on excess water all the time.

Different materials are available for potting your plant. Some materials like plastic pots hold water for longer, so you should reduce how frequently you water. The most important thing to keep in mind is to allow the soil to completely dry before the next watering session.

Final Wrap

Don’t be downcast if you have overwatered your succulents. If you pay enough attention and keep a close watch on them, you can give your succulents a better chance of recovering.

Good luck and happy gardening!

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