Why My Succulents Turning Brown?

Succulent foliage comes in a wide spectrum of colors. Most of the time, the colors are very specific to the variety, but there can be many different causes for leaves turning yellow or brown. In this post we will go over some of the most frequent reasons and how to fix them so you can enjoy your succulents again.

Succulents- they’re resilient, they’re low maintenance, but they’re also known to turn brown. You’ve made sure to not over or underwater. You have good soil and optimum growing conditions, but what could be making those succulents of yours brown?

Why My Succulents Turning Brown? There are multiple things that could turn your succulents brown. They could be getting too much sun, or the browning might result from a pest infestation. Browning succulents are also an indicator of root rot. Some of these have better chances for revival than others do. 

We all want to see our succulents beautiful and flourishing; fortunately, there are things you can do to bring your beloved succulents back to their beautiful aesthetic that we love them for. We’ll cover what you can do to try to fix any of these issues and how to prevent them from happening in the future.

What Causes Succulents to Turn Brown?

There are many factors that can make your succulent start to turn brown. The most common issues that cause succulents to turn brown are:

With early detection and some extra care, you should be able to revive your plant from almost all of these.

Sunburn

Yes, even these resilient little plants can get sunburnt! It is common for these plants to start sunburn once temps start to get over 104 degrees Fahrenheit. It can also happen if you don’t properly acclimate a succulent to the level of light and heat you introduce it to.

Sunburn is one of the most common reasons why your succulent is turning brown.

What Does Sunburn Look Like on a Succulent?

There are a few telltale signs that let you know your succulent is suffering from a sunburn, beyond the browning:

  • Brown and dark spots
  • The plant is soft and mushy
  • Plant may collapse

Even though we think of cacti as made for the heat and dry climate, they still aren’t invincible.

How Can You Prevent Sunburn on Succulents?

You can do a few things to prevent your precious succulents from getting sunburnt. These things include:

  • If they are in pots, move them to a shadier area.
  • You could buy a shade cloth to block out some of the suns.
  • Allow more time for the plants to acclimate.

Acclimation will be important, especially if you’re moving a succulent into any drastic temperature change. We may not have sunscreen for our succulents yet, but we can do what we could to at least make their lives easier.

Frost

Frost will damage succulents similarly to sunburn. They can turn brown and end up collapsing. How can you prevent frost damage?

  • Bring them inside if possible
  • Buy a frost cover to cover them with
  • Keep away from windows during extra cold periods
Just as sunburn, frost can damage your succulents and the plants will gradually change their color to brown.

Succulents are quite resilient and can withstand high temperatures and really low temperatures, but like everything could only take so much.

Pests

Pests are just as gross as you’d expect. And your succulents don’t like them any more than you do. There are many pests that will mess with your succulents. These pests include:

  • Aphids
  • Mealybugs
  • Slugs 
  • Grasshoppers
  • Mice 
  • Birds 
  • Deer

There is a wide variety of pests that will come and mess with your succulents. Only a few are really common, though. Aphids and mealybugs are the most common suspects when it comes to succulent pests. 

If your succulent is not as green as it used to be, you should check if pests have damaged the plant.

Aphids are small insects that are green, black, brown, or orange. Mealybugs are small white bugs that look kind of like cotton. Aphids and mealybugs bite into the plant, and they suck sap and other juices out. They excrete those saps and juices out as something called “honeydew,” and that can grow into mold.

Getting Rid of Pests 

To get rid of aphids and mealybugs, you can do a couple of things:

  • A solution of 5% Neem oil, 95% water, and a few drops of dish soap
  • Use 70% isopropyl alcohol
  • Try an over the counter succulent pest spray

Use these substances with caution! They can kill the bad bugs, but they could also kill the plant too if you’re not careful. You could either apply this as a spray bottle or with a q tip. Make sure to clean off dead bugs, and after a few hours, rinse off any oils or alcohol you use. 

You’re going to want to quarantine those sick succulents of yours, so they don’t get any of your other plants sick. Make sure to keep an extra good eye on them for a few weeks. After the first week, give them another spray and a rinse, and then keep a good eye on them for another couple of weeks.

Over or Underwatering

Overwatering tends to be more of a problem than underwatering does, but we don’t want to do either of them. Overwatering will make your plant start to get soft and rot. Underwatering will make your plant dry and shrivel up.

To prevent your succulents from turning brown, you should only water them when the soil is dry.

How Often Should You Water Succulents?

There’s no specific amount of time you should wait to water your succulents, but a general rule of thumb is to wait until the soil is completely dry before you water again. This could be a few days to a few weeks, depending on climate and location. 

Signs of Overwatering

There are a few signs of overwatering. These signs could be:

  • During the early stage will be yellow
  • Leaves feel soft and mushy
  • A light touch could knock a leaf off
  • When severe can look brown or black

Just like a lot of these problems, early detection is the key. Once you reach severe overwatering, it could be too late to save that succulent.

How to Revive from Overwatering 

Thankfully, overwater succulents are one of the few things that they can recover from. Some things you could do to revive from overwatering are:

  • If possible, let the soil dry out 
  • After drying, change soil if the soil has bad aeration 
  • If damaged down to the stem, then cut what’s good and replant it

Soil can be a cause for issues because if it doesn’t have the proper aeration, then it could hold too much water. You want that soil to be nice and airy and be able to dry out well.

In addition to browning, there are other side effects from overwatering your succulents. Other issues overwatering can cause are:

  • Fungus infections
  • Water worts
  • Rot

Overwatering could cause a whole bunch of issues that you really don’t want to deal with. It’s important to let your soil completely dry out before you water again.

Signs of Underwatering 

Underwatering isn’t as common as overwatering, but you’ll notice underwatering if the top parts of the leaves start to dry up. Dried-up dead leaves on the bottom aren’t necessarily a bad thing, but once it gets to the top, that is an indication of an issue. 

How to Recover from Underwatering

I’m sure we could all guess this. You just need to make sure to give it a couple of waterings as you normally would, and it should start to perk back up. If the shriveling is severe, though, then your succulent could likely be past the point of revival.

Final Thoughts: So What Are Those Brown Spots On Your Succulents?

It could be many things, pests, too much sun, too much cold, over or underwatering, lack of care when handling, that is for you to judge off of this list we provided you.

 A lot of this can be taken care of with early detection or early action, but unfortunately, sometimes it can be a little too late to act, and you might have to restart with your sweet succulents. 

Hopefully, this can help you get out of a situation or prevent you from getting back into it in the future.

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