Succulent SOS: How to Bring Your Plant Back to Health

Are you a succulent lover? If you’ve been growing succulents for a while and find that some of your plants are looking weak and limp, here are the steps to help you revive a succulent plant.

Nothing feels worse than going to check up on your beloved succulent plant only to discover that it is dying. The feeling is even more painful if the plant seemed fine the last time you checked it. Unfortunately, it can take a couple of days or weeks for succulent plants to show signs of stress which could easily lead to death. If you catch the decline in time, there is still hope for your succulent plant if you act quickly.

So, how can you revive a succulent plant? The first thing you need to do is establish the cause of the decline. Are the leaves getting mushy? Is it getting too much or too little sunlight? Is it overwatered or underwatered? Knowing why the succulent is dying will help you take steps to revive it. Once you have identified the cause, you can rejuvenate your succulent plant. For example, if your succulent gets too much sunlight, move it to a spot with more shade. If it’s being overwatered, repot the plant in dry soil and stop watering until completely dry. If it looks limp or lifeless, give it deep watering, and it will be fine.

This blog post discusses the different ways of reviving a dying succulent plant. Read on to find out everything you need to know.

Reasons Your Succulent May Be Dying and How to Revive It

The first step to reviving a dying succulent plant is figuring out what is ailing the plant.

Typically, succulent plants die when forced to live in conditions significantly contrary to the conditions in their natural habitats.

A minuature succulent.
If overwatering continues, parts of the succulent such as the stem and leaves will turn black or brown.

To save a dying succulent, you must try to recreate the conditions found in its native environment. Here are some of the most common reasons succulents die and how you can revive your plant:

1. Overwatering

One of the most common causes of succulent death is overwatering. Succulents are drought-loving plants that prefer less water compared to other houseplants.

If you put your succulents on the same watering schedule as your other non-succulent houseplants, your succulents will likely be getting excessive water.

Besides too much water, overwatering can also be due to poor soil quality and using a pot without enough drainage holes.

If the potting mix doesn’t drain well and fast enough, you risk your succulents sitting in water for too long which can lead to root rot.

The type of pot you use plays a critical role in ensuring that your succulent plants won’t get overwatered. It promotes air circulation that helps the soil to dry faster.

Succulent plants with densely packed or compacted roots may also suffer from overwatering issues because the dense roots may block the container’s drainage holes, causing an excessive buildup of unwanted moisture in the soil.

Watering a plant.
If overwatering continues, parts of the succulent such as the stem and leaves will turn black or brown.

Some early signs of overwatering are discoloration and a massive change in the leaf’s form. The plant’s leaves may turn pale or yellow from the bottom.

The next thing that happens is that the leaves will start dropping quickly. A slight sway or touch will get them off the plant.

If overwatering continues, parts of the succulent such as the stem and leaves will turn black or brown. Unfortunately, you may not be able to save your succulent if it reaches this point.

Change of color only begins if your succulent is rotting or has developed a severe fungal disease caused by too much water.

How to Revive an Overwatered Succulent

The best way to revive an overwatered succulent is to remove it from the growing container and let its leaves and roots dry. However, it would be best if you remembered that not all overwatered succulents could be revived.

Carefully remove your succulent from the growing container and shake off any excess soil. Rinse off the roots with tepid water and remove all the debris.

Please leave it in a warm and dry place for at least 4 to 6 hours to recover from the shock of being moved.

Once dried, put your succulent in fresh potting mix and repot it. Ensure the pot has enough drainage holes so that excess water will drain out effectively.

Reduce watering frequency to once a month during winter and twice a month in summer during recovery. After about two months, you can resume your regular watering schedule for succulent plants.

2. Underwatering

Since most cacti species are drought-tolerant, many gardeners mistakenly believe that they don’t need to water them.

However, even the hardest succulents need some water during their growth cycle. Otherwise, they will start wilting and slowly wither away until they die entirely if you don’t water them.

Knowing the difference between a healthy look and an unhealthy one is essential since it can help determine when your plants need more water.

An underwatered succulent usually looks dry and shriveled. The leaves of your plants may also start turning yellow or brown as an indication that they need to be watered.

How to Revive an Underwatered Succulent

To revive an underwatered succulent, water it deeply and let the excess water drain completely. Wait to water your plant again until the soil is dry to prevent overwatering.

A person watering a rosemary in a pot,
Many gardeners mistakenly believe that they don’t need to water them.

Consider soaking the roots of your succulent in water for about 20 minutes before planting it in fresh potting mix. This will help rehydrate the plant and give it a fresh start.

Once you’ve repotted your succulent, water it once every one to two weeks depending on the season.

Ensure the soil is thoroughly wet or soaked before draining the excess water. You can also mist your plants occasionally to help them retain moisture if needed.

Resume the regular watering schedule based on the plant’s requirements once it shows signs of revival.

3. Too Much Sunlight

Succulents exposed to too much sunlight may also suffer and eventually die. Too much direct sunlight can cause the leaves of succulents to burn, leading to water loss and dehydration, ultimately killing the plant.

The symptoms of a succulent getting too much Sun include yellow patches on the leaves, discoloration, and wrinkled or brittle leaves.

How to Revive a Succulent That Has Been Exposed to Too Much Sunlight

If your succulent has been exposed to too much sunlight, you can move it to a shadier spot with indirect light. Also, ensure the plant does not get direct sunlight for more than 4 hours daily.

String of pearls in a pot exposed to sunlight.
Succulents exposed to too much sunlight may also suffer and eventually die.

You can also wrap your succulent in a wet cloth or newspaper to protect it from the Sun and to help retain moisture.

Water your plant only when the soil is completely dry so you don’t risk overwatering it. You may need to reduce watering frequency during the recovery period.

Once your succulent has recovered, you can move it back to a spot with more sunlight and follow its regular watering requirements. Ensure it only gets exposed to four hours of direct sunlight per day.

4. Pest Problems

Some succulents are prone to pest problems. Common pests that may attack your succulent plant include fungus gnats, mealybugs, scale, and spider mites.

Mealybug on a plant.
Mealybugs are the most common succulent pest.

These pests usually feed on the sap of your succulent and can weaken it, leading to death in extreme cases.

The symptoms of pest infestation include discoloration, wilting, and yellowing of leaves. The pests may leave a sticky substance behind, which indicates that you have a problem.

Mealybugs are the most common succulent pest that usually appears as tiny, cottony pests on your plant.

Depending on the species, they are brown, gray, or white. Mealybugs produce a sticky substance that may attract ants to your plant.

Spider mats usually create a web-like structure on your succulent. They feed on your plant leaves, leaving behind yellow or white speckles called stippling.

Scales are small grey or brown oval-shaped bugs attached to your plant’s leaves and stem. They feed on the sap of your succulent, leading to discoloration or wilting.

How to Revive Your Succulent from Pest Problems

The best way to get rid of pests attacking your succulent is by using natural pest control methods such as neem oil, rubbing alcohol, or insecticidal soap sprays.

You should also inspect the plant regularly and remove any visible pests with a cotton swab dipped in rubbing alcohol.

Moreover, you should ensure your succulents are not overcrowded and receive enough air circulation.

You can also try adding some companion plants to help attract beneficial insects, such as ladybugs or predatory mites which prey on pests.

Lastly, ensure that the soil of your succulent has good drainage and is not too moist so that you don’t risk mold formation or mildew. This can attract more pests and make it difficult for your succulent to recover.


Succulents are some of the hardiest plants but still require care and attention to keep them alive and healthy.

Pay close attention to your succulent’s needs and ensure it is not getting too much or too little sunlight, water, or space.

Furthermore, inspect your succulent for pests regularly and take steps to eliminate them.

With some patience and care, your succulent should be able to recover from any issues before long!

Last update on 2024-02-06 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

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