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How to Save a Succulent Whose Leaves are Turning Yellow

How to Save a Succulent Whose Leaves are Turning Yellow


Succulents grow either as houseplants or as outdoor plants in warmer climates. Generally, low-maintenance plants that store water in their leaves or stems, succulents grow indoors everywhere and, depending on the plant, can grow outdoors in USDA plant hardiness zones 8 through 12. Succulents generally require little special care, but they can develop yellow leaves when growing conditions do not meet the plant's needs.

Succulents store water in their thick leaves and stems. Most of these plants are naturally green, some with variegated leaves and occasionally other colors mixed with green. If you notice some leaves beginning to turn yellow, it is time to step in and quickly fix the problem to prevent extensive damage to the plant.

Checking the Soil

Overwatering is the most common cause of yellowing leaves on a succulent plant. Constantly wet soil can rot the plant's roots, interfering with its ability to take up water and nutrients from the soil. This interrupts photosynthesis, or energy production, in the plant's leaves and other above-ground parts, and its green color fades to yellow. If left untreated, overly wet conditions can cause leaves to fall or the upper parts of a succulent to soften and rot, eventually killing the plant. Check your plant's soil with your fingertip and, if it feels wet, overwatering is a likely cause.

Correcting the Problem

If a succulent has only a few yellow leaves, the problem may correct itself if you stop watering until the soil dries out and then water only when the top 1 to 2 inches (2.5 to 5 cm) of soil feels dry. When a plant starts to drop leaves, it might be necessary to change its soil by removing it from its pot and gently shaking soil from the roots. Repot the plant in a commercial mix designed for succulents or make your own. Repot the plant in a container with a large drainage hole and use an unglazed ceramic pot, which allows the soil to dry quickly. When watering the repotted plant, ensure it does not sit in a water-filled saucer.

Checking for Other Problems

If your plant's soil is a well-draining mix formulated for succulents and overwatering is not the cause, the problem could be the lighting conditions. Most succulents can handle lots of light, but a green succulent that begins to take on a lighter, bleached-out, yellowish color when grown in too much light, such as full sun for the entire day. Moving the plant into a spot that gets bright, indirect light should correct this problem.

A succulent infested with pests might develop yellow leaves, a sign of general distress. For example, mealybugs, which form a cottony covering on leaves or spider mites, tiny insects that can cause yellow spots as they feed, could cause the problem. Spraying a plant with ready-to-use insecticidal soap kills these pests.

Source: sfgate.com

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3. How to Save Sunburned Succulents

Even though succulents love the sun, they can get too much of it, especially if you keep them outdoors during the summer! Putting your succulents in full, blazing sun for more than a few hours a day can sunburn them, which can be dangerous for their health.

Succulents can’t use sunburned tissue for photosynthesis, so if most of your succulent’s leaves get sunburned and scarred, your plant may not be able to make enough nutrients to sustain itself.

Some varieties can handle more sunshine than others. Aloe and agave, for example, are used to full desert sunshine, but more sensitive, tender plants like echeveria will burn in the same conditions. Some succulents can even burn if you keep them on your windowsill in bright, direct sunlight during the summertime, but this is rarer.

If you notice patches of discoloration on your succulent’s leaves in colors like beige, brown, or black, your succulent is probably suffering from sunburn. In an advanced case, the leaves will even look dry, crispy, and collapsed—a far cry from their usual plump, healthy appearance. Its time to start saving your dying succulents!

If there’s only pale discoloration on some of the leaves, you can usually save your succulent by giving it more shade immediately. You can do this by using shade cloth, bringing your plant inside, or putting it under an awning.

Advanced signs of sunburn

If your succulent is showing more advanced signs of sunburn, like discoloration on most of its leaves in darker colors like brown or black, you may not be able to save it. Bummer, right? Succulents in this condition may benefit from water therapy (mentioned above), though, so it’s worth giving it a shot!

To prevent this from happening again, research what level of sunlight your particular succulent needs. Not all of them can handle full, blazing sun, so install some shade cloth over your more sensitive succulents or move them indoors so they can thrive! Growing your succulent indoors? Check out “Best Grow Lights Reviewed by Succulent Lovers” for tips on buying an indoor light source.


How to Save a Succulent Whose Leaves are Turning Yellow - garden

Succulents leaves are the biggest concern when it comes to taking care of this type of plants. They store the water in their stems and their thick leaves. That is why most succulents have that vibrant green on the leaves. However, when the leaves are turning yellow, there is a cause for concern. Thus, what to do when succulents leaves are turning yellow? Well, keep reading to learn how you can step in and fix this issue and also to prevent more damage to the plant.

1. First off, take a look at the soil

Most of the times, the soil will take you what’s wrong with your plant. In this case, you might notice there was some overwatering. Hence, as you can see, constant watering can make the soil rot until it gets to the roots. Hence, this rot will interfere with the plant’s ability to get the water and nutrients it needs from the soil. Thus, if you touch the soil and you can see the overwatering is the cause, take a step back. Let the soil dry and then see how the plant reacts with smaller amounts of water on several days. Sometimes, this is all it takes.

2. Changing the pot and making your own potting mix

If overwatering wasn’t the problem, that means it might be necessary to change the soil entirely. Thus, it is time to remove the soil from the pot and shake the debris from the roots. Then you can proceed with repotting the succulent in a new pot making your own potting soil mix. You can do this by incorporating 1 part perlite, 2 parts potting soil, and 1 part coarse sand. Make sure the container has a large drainage hole. My favorite kind of pot or succulent is the unglazed ceramic one because it will allow the soil to dry quickly.

3. Check the lighting

If you still notice rotten black stem, then the problem could be the lighting. Most of the succulents will be able to handle a lot of light. However, there are others that need a more gradual approach. Thus, make sure you are constantly moving the plant into a brighter spot and in indirect light.


Use This quick symptom checker to diagnose the cause of your succulents yellow leaves

Look for the symptoms that match your plant and we’ll help you diagnose the problem and suggest the best treatment plan.

Crispy, shriveled leaves at the base of the succulent

Old leaves are dying away naturally

Simply remove the dead leaves

Leaves are yellow and mushy to touch

Leaves look shrunken and wrinkled

Leaves are soggy and/or roots are rotting

Wrong pot or potting medium

Move to a pot and potting medium with better drainage

Leaves deformed and yellowing. Powdery white substance visible

Apply insecticidal soap and/or soak the roots in diluted pesticide*

Leaves turning yellow and fine webbing on the plant

Apply a miticide* or predatory mites as a biological control

Plant is pale and yellow and has stretched-out growth

Move the plant to a sunnier position

* When using pesticides always read and follow instructions carefully.


My Succulents Are Turning Yellow

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Succulent plants grow either as houseplants or as outdoor plants in warmer climates. Generally low-maintenance plants that store water in their leaves or stems, succulents grow indoors everywhere and, depending on the plant, can grow outdoors in U.S. Department of Agriculture plant hardiness zones 8 through 12. Succulents generally require little special care, but they can develop yellow leaves when growing conditions don't meet the needs of the plant.