12 Tips To Save Overwatered Succulents

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If you or your friends are keen gardeners, then we wrote this with you in mind. We all get busy and although we know exactly what to do, when we’re overbusy we second guess ourselves and that’s when we tend to make mistakes! If you’ve absent-mindedly overwatered your succulents – don’t worry. Many people do it and now we’re here to help you save your superb succulents!

Identify the problem from the list below. Follow the instructions to apply the remedy. Care for your ‘patient’ as described. While they convalesce follow the instructions for care maintenance. Keep an extra watchful eye on them until they’re ‘out of the woods’. Well done! You saved the life of a plant!

Tips On How To Save Overwatered Succulents

First, maybe you need to see what an overwatered succulent looks like!

To save an overwatered succulent, you must remedy the specific problems it possesses. We have three categories of overwatering symptoms: root rot, stem rot, and leaf rot.

We will name the changing of colors of the leaves as well as becoming mushy as leaf rot for uniformity and besides that is how leaves rot when overwatered.

1. Root Rot Remedies

Root rot is undoubtedly the most difficult to determine among other rots when succulents are overwatered because it is beneath the soil.

You cannot see what is happening under the soil until it began to appear on the body of the plant. Sometimes, you notice them too late and the rot is completely rotted away.

Nevertheless, you can still revive the plant whether the root rot is light or severe. In both cases, you may perform the following steps:

• Dig The Succulent Out 

The first step is digging the succulents out from the pot to determine the status of rotting.

It doesn’t matter whether the root rot is light or severe because either way the roots are rotted. In that case, you need to cut away the rotted roots.

• Cut The Rotted Roots

Use a sterilized sharp knife or scissor to cut the rotted roots away to save the remaining healthy roots.

Remember, roots are the most essential part of every plant because they absorb the nutrients from the water. Hence, you must save the parts that are not rotted.

• Dry The Container And The Roots

If the rotting is light, you may only squeeze the roots after removing them from the pot, remove the rotted parts and wait for the pot to dry.

You need not change containers because the rotting is not severe, so you only need to remove excess water by allowing the pot to dry and replant the succulent again.

However, in severe cases, you need to discard the container and plant the succulents in a new different container with fresh soil.

The problem with the previous container might be the draining system of the soil, or it may contain numerous fungi leading to severe root rot of your succulents.

• Replant The Succulent After Drying

Once the container and roots have dried, you can now replant the succulent again. Remember, the soil should be perfect for preventing your succulents from suffering from root rot.

2. Stem Rot Remedies

The following symptom of overwatered succulents is stem rot. It starts with the roots and travels to the stem and leaves.

If the rot reaches the stem, that means the rotting is severe and infects the roots ultimately.

Again, the rotting in the stem can be severe or light, but it is better to notice stem rot early to have higher chances of saving the plant.

In such a case, you can resort to the following steps to protect the succulent:

• Cut The Rotted Part Of The Stem

The only way to save the uninfected parts of the plant is by removing the rotted part.

Use a sterilized sharp knife or a pair of scissors for precise cuts and do not forget to wear your gardening gloves for safety purposes.

Don’t worry about cutting them because it is simply doing a similar process to propagation.

After cutting the rotted stems, make sure to see the insides of the stem of the savable parts because it might be rotted also although it never appears outside.

You can use a stick to remove the rotted area or cut the area completely.

• Let The Stem Calloused

Similar to propagation, you must allow the stem cuttings to dry or calloused to prevent infection.

Leave them in one area with good sunlight and proper aeration for a few days. Once done, you can now replant them.

Replant The Stem Cuttings In A New Container

A new container with fresh and well-draining soil is the perfect match for saving your once near-to-death succulent.

This is to prevent the succulent from experiencing another episode of root rot. Most importantly, to never overwater your succulent again.

Moreover, you can also use the rooting hormone to quicken the rooting process of the stems and help the plant to recover quicker.

In a span of three weeks or more, you will begin to witness roots growing from the cut area and the succulent is growing healthy all over again.

3. Leaf Rot Remedies

When the rot has reached the leaves, that means the roots and stem are heavily infected.

Also, overwatering the succulents will make the leaves swell, feel mushy, and change in colors.

In such cases, you may perform the following steps to save the succulent:

• Look For Uninfected Leaves

The first step is to find the leaves that are savable and remove them from the infected plant.

Usually, when the roots and stem are rotted severely, the only part left to save is the leaves. It could be that all the leaves are unaffected or some of them are affected.

Nevertheless, you will have to remove all uninfected leaves but it does not mean they can be planted all over again.

There might be leaves that are not mature yet, so they might not survive living on their own.

• Let The Leaf Cuttings To Callous

Again, cuttings should not be planted immediately in the soil without letting them dry, or else the wound will get infected.

Leave the leaf cuttings in an area with good lighting and proper aeration for a few days.

• Replant The Leaf Cuttings In A New Container

Their previous container is no longer ideal for them because the soil may have several problems making it toxic for succulents to thrive.

Although you can still use the container itself but make sure to wash it thoroughly to remove fungi.

Put a fresh and well-draining soil to give the succulent another chance to grow.

Remember, overwatered succulent cases are different from one grower to another.

Some might be severe while some are not. So, the remedies to enforce differ as well and as the remedies provided herein are enough to save your succulents. Find the perfect approach to match your overwatered succulent case.

How to Prevent Overwatering Succulents

Succulents are pretty sensitive to wet environments, that is, they prefer to thrive in dry conditions than being soaked in wet.

Most of them can tolerate neglect but not overwatering. For this reason, you have to know how to prevent overwatering your succulents and save yourself from all the troubles of saving them from root rot.

4. Use A Well-Draining Soil

It is a golden rule to use well-draining soil when growing succulents. This type of soil is capable of keeping the succulents moist and absorb nutrients without soaking them in water.

An example of well-draining soil is a cactus potting mix because they are designed to match the soil conditions that succulents demand to grow.

You can mix it with perlites or coarse sand to improve the drainage system. But it is only necessary depending on your area.

If you live in an area with high humidity, the moisture tends to remain longer even if you are using a cactus potting mix.

In that case, you can add perlite or coarse sand using a 1:1 ratio of cactus potting mix and perlite or coarse sand to improve drainage and dries the moisture in the soil in a reasonable time.

On the other hand, it is different in areas with higher temperatures.

Although you still need well-draining soil, it is not necessary to improve the draining system since the heat will dry the moisture quickly.

If you cannot find a cactus potting mix in your area, you can still use the regular soil in your area and mix it with perlite or coarse sand to improve drainage.

Again, well-draining soil is a must for succulents!

5. Use A Pot With Good Drainage

When you choose to grow succulents in individual pots, make sure it has few suitable holes underneath where the water can drain freely.

You can use plastic or clay containers but make sure they have holes that cannot be blocked.

When these holes are blocked, it could mean a disaster for the succulents, and you don’t want that to happen.

Also, place the containers in an area with good lighting conditions to help the moisture dry. You will notice if the holes are blocked when you don’t see water running from the bottom.

Alternatively, if there is little water flowing even though you put enough water. In that case, you have to poke the holes with sticks and hope that the problem is the holes and not the whole soil itself.

6. Always Check The Soil First

The most important thing to do before watering the succulents is to check the soil. It is straightforward to do but has a huge help in preventing the ground from being overwatered.

You can use a stick or your bare hands to see if the soil is dry underneath. When the soil is dry two to three inches from the surface, that is the time you need to apply water to them.

When using your hands to check the soil, always wash your hands afterward to remove bacteria.

Again, when you water them, see that the water drains from the bottom of the pot. That way, you’ll know the succulent is watered properly without soaking them.

7. Set A Watering Schedule

Once you know the proper watering cycle for your succulents, consider how many days the soil will dry with respect to your local temperature.

You will then make a schedule out of it. Most succulents are scheduled to receive water once a week, but it still depends upon the temperature in your area.

However, your watering schedule is not applicable for all seasons. In winter, succulents go in a state of dormancy, which means there is less activity for them, and they don’t need that much water compared to their active days. But they still need water in winter if the soil is parched.

Additionally, you may adjust the watering schedule depending on their active growth period. When they are growing actively or blooming, they need enough nutrients, mainly when producing flowers.

Getting familiar with all of these can be difficult at first, but you will get used to it eventually.

8. Be Mindful Of Seasonal Change

Again, succulents don’t need that much water in winter, and this is the season that overwatering usually occurs, so you better watch out.

Meanwhile, the summer season is the exact opposite of winter.

Succulents grow actively in summer, and together with the increasing temperature of summer, succulents need water regularly.

Equally important, you don’t want to underwater your succulents as much as you don’t want them to be overwatered.

In summer, you may adjust the watering schedule for shorter periods depending on the temperatures in your area.

Either way, the rule of checking the soil first always apply in all season, so don’t forget to make extra sure you won’t overwater them.

How to Spot Overwatered Succulent?

When growing succulents, it is necessary to have an eye that determines whether your succulents are overwatered or not.

The common and greatest enemy of succulents is overwatering, therefore you must know the signs of what an overwatered succulent looks like.

The Following List Presents All The Signs Of An Overwatered Succulent:

9. The Leaves And Stems Start Turning Brown And Black

Succulents began to change colors when overwatered and this is due to root rot.

The roots of succulents will rot when overwatered because succulent roots are sensitive to wet environments. To name few root rots such as helminthosportium stem rot, and black stem rot are the ones causing havoc on your succulents.

10. The Leaves Turn Transparent

As a sign of holding too much water, the leaves of succulents will become transparent. Succulents lose their color when too much water is applied to them.

The leaves will then expand until they can no longer hold their size and began to drop or even burst when the amount of water inside them is extreme.

The leaves turning transparent is the first phase of their changing colors due to overwatering. Eventually, it will turn brown and black and later die if left untreated.

11. The Leaves Become Mushy

The leaves of succulents are initially firm and stiff but they tend to become mushy when overwatered. That is because the water inside of the ruins and makes the leaves mushy.

You may not see this from afar because mushy leaves sometimes remain green in color and only a touch could sense it.

But you can also spot it from looking closely at the succulent. If you notice a curve in the leaves, that could mean they are mushy and overwatered.

Succulent leaves are usually firm and straight-growing. You can also pinch the leaves to know if they are mushy if eye-sighting does not work for you.

12. The Leaves Are Falling From The Stem

Leaves will begin falling off the stem because their weight increases due to the amount of water in them.

On top of that, the roots will rot leading to a weak stem because rotting starts at the center. The weaker stem can no longer hold leaves with increasing weight.

That is how bad overwatering can affect your succulents. If you notice that the leaves are starting to fall and you have no idea why the most obvious answer to that is overwatering.

In that case, you have to perform the necessary steps to save the plant.

Remember, the symptoms of an overwatered plant do not appear individually. Oftentimes, they happen to appear simultaneously.

For example, mushy leaves and weak stems will first manifest and then, later on, changes their color into transparent and eventually brown to black.

Each succulent may have a different case when overwatered but the most important thing is you know the signs so you may be able to apply remedies.

After you determined that one of your succulents is being overwatered, the next step you have to do is save them which you have now learned how to do!

Final Thoughts

Here we are again – Green Garden Tribe to the rescue!

Yes! You need to know that overwatered succulents can be revived.

So don’t lose hope because you are only a few steps away from having a healthy succulent once again.

Next, stop blaming yourself or anybody else because the damage has been done already.

So get yourself ready and start the process of saving your overwatered succulent.

Jenny Marie
Tribal Writer

Edited By
Patricia Godwin

Patricia Godwin

Patricia has many years of experience as a content writer on various subjects, but her first love is gardening. She’s never met a plant she didn’t like and, consequently, she writes about every type of plant you can think of. Once an avid gardener with a herb garden, a succulent rockery, and a rose garden – to mention a few. Nowadays, she’s constantly on the move searching for interesting plants to bring to your attention; and explain to you all the details you need to grow, care and maintain these plants.

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