Overwatered Succulents: How To Identify, Treat and Prevent It


Succulents are popular plants for gardeners because they require little water and can survive in most climates.

However, succulent care is not as simple as it seems. It’s easy to overwater succulents, which leads to root rot or other issues that can be difficult to identify early on.

This article will teach you how to identify the signs of an overwatered succulent.

Additionally, this article will show you how to treat an overwatered plant and prevent future occurrences from happening again!

What Are the Risks of Overwatering Succulent Plants

Overwatered and underwatered succulents can both be signs of poor care.

However, overwatering is the most common mistake made by succulent owners and growers.

An overwatered succulent is typically due to watering it too often or the soil staying wet for too long.

This can lead to root rot and other fungal diseases that may ultimately kill succulents if not corrected soon enough.

An overwatered succulent is not only unsightly, but it can also cause severe problems for the health of your succulent.

Overwatered succulents cannot properly absorb water or take in nutrients through its roots. This will lead to root rot and nutrient deficiencies which are very difficult if not impossible to treat at this point.

An overwatered plant is under too much water stress, and it may ultimately die.

The main problems with overwatering succulents is root rot, fungal diseases, nutrient deficiencies, and pest infestations.

Root Rot

This is a common problem with succulents that are watered too often or kept in wet conditions for too long.

The soil stays soggy because your plant’s roots absorb water faster than its ability to drain it out through the bottom of the pot. As such, fungus and bacteria can quickly grow in the wet soil and cause root rot.

Since this is a fungal disease, not much will happen until it has taken over your plant completely.

At that point, you may notice discoloration of the leaves or low growth rates due to insufficient nutrients from the decomposing roots.

In any case, if overwatered succulents have been left too long without proper care, they should be thrown out since there’s no way to save them at that point.

Fungal Diseases

The most common types of fungus associated with succulent plants are fusarium and pythium.

Fusarium species prefer slightly acidic conditions, while Pythium prefers higher pH values.

Both of these fungi are capable of causing root rot in succulents, but they also have other effects that may be noticed before the plant starts to suffer from rotting roots.

Affected leaves will develop yellow or brown spots, which later turn into holes as the fungus spreads throughout the rest of your succulent tissues.

The bottom line is that if you see any signs of fungal diseases on your plants, you should remove them immediately since there is no way to save this type once it has started spreading its spores around.

Nutrient Deficiencies

One of the most common signs that you’re overwatering your succulents is if their leaves start becoming yellow or pale.

This happens because waterlogged roots cannot get enough oxygen and nutrients, causing them to die off – which in turn affects the rest of the plant’s tissues since they become unbalanced.

Mild nutrient deficiencies can be treated by repotting your plants into new soil, where they will have better drainage and airflow around their roots, so they don’t stay soggy for too long.

Some fertilizers may also help improve growth rates in these cases, but more severely affected specimens should be discarded unless all other factors are ruled out first (like root rot).

Pest Infestation

The most common pests found among overwatered succulents are mealybugs and scale insects.

These sap-sucking intruders aren’t usually very harmful by themselves, but they multiply quickly and can spread plant diseases if not treated.

Mealybugs are small, white insects that live in colonies and will cover the leaves of your succulent with sticky honeydew excretion.

Scale insects look like bumps on the leaf’s surface and may also secrete honeydew when they’re feeding off sap from under its shell.

Both types of pests should be removed by hand using cotton swabs dipped into alcohol or soapy water to kill them before they cause any further damage to your plants.

How Does Overwatering a Succulent Occur

Overwatering is a common mistake that most people make when caring for succulents.

Succulent plants and cacti are desert-dwelling, which means they require less water than other types of houseplants or vegetation outside in the garden.

They will not thrive if overwatered because their root systems cannot process large quantities of water quickly enough to survive.

Particularly with indoor container-grown succulents, an overwatered succulent plant is likely if the soil becomes saturated with water and can no longer absorb more.

The excess water pools at the bottom of the container then leech back up into the roots through capillary action that pulls it upwards to all parts of the plant’s root system.

If this frequently occurs enough over time, your houseplant may begin to show signs of rot or mold issues because its cellular structure cannot function properly due to constant wetness.

Some common reasons why a succulent may be overwatered include:

  • The succulents are watered too frequently.
  • The potting soil mix does not drain properly, and the plant’s roots become waterlogged.
  • A humidity tray has been placed underneath the container that holds the soil mix, causing it to stay wet for a more extended period than usual.
  • The succulent is in a container that does not have drainage holes and the excess water pools at its base.
  • The plant was left to sit in water, and the roots absorbed so much of it that they began to rot.
  • The plant’s leaves are constantly wet due to being placed in an area with a lot of condensation.
  • The room where the succulent is located has very high humidity levels, or it’s placed too close to an air vent that constantly blows hot air.
  • The plant has been placed in a container that’s too small for it, causing its root system not to have enough space to spread out and function properly.

How To Tell If Your Succulent Is Overwatered

It is essential to be able to identify an overwatered succulent. If you do not, it will lead to a dead plant, and not knowing what happened is the worst part.

There are several symptoms to look for when you think your succulent is overwatered.

It may be difficult to tell if the plant is overwatered at first, but checking for these signs will make it easier.

Signs of Overwatered Succulents

An overwatered succulent can be identified by several symptoms.

It is essential to identify an overwatered succulent right away because if you continue to water them while they are in this condition, it will lead to more severe problems.

The symptoms of overwatering are:

Leaves Turning Yellow and Falling Off

When the roots do not absorb water appropriately, the plant’s leaves will turn yellow and fall off.

When this starts happening, you need to stop watering immediately because it damages the plant on a cellular level.

Stem Turning Mushy

If your succulent has mushy stems, then that means they have been sitting in too much moisture for a long period.

This will lead to root rot and eventually death.

This is a significant sign that your succulent needs immediate action because it will not get better on its own, only worse with time.

Plant Smelling Moldy

If the plant in question has been sitting for too long in the water, then there could be a chance of developing black or white mold on top of their soil, which can harm them if left untreated.

If the plant smells musty when you lift some potting mix, this is an indicator of mold growing underneath as well.

To fix this problem, all excess moisture from the roots need to be removed entirely so they can no longer grow any more fungus under the surface.

Leaves Have Brown Tips

If the leaves at the very tips of your succulents are turning brown, it can indicate that there is too much salt in their soil.

Even if you water succulents regularly, this will happen because they take up most nutrients from a plant and do not allow for proper absorption of minerals.

If this problem happens, stop watering until all salts have been removed completely to prevent further damage.

Leaves Are Limp and Squishy Instead of Firm or Rubbery

If you squeeze the leaves of an overwatered succulent, they should spring back into shape quickly.

If they are very squishy or limp instead, then this is a sign that there has been too much water absorbed for them to bounce back properly.

This means it needs to be dried out completely before being watered again.

Roots Are Slimy or Rotten

If the roots are rotting, slimy, and smelly instead of dry, it is a major sign that they have been sitting in water for too long.

If you see this type of problem, then you need to stop watering immediately because your succulent will not recover on its own from this condition.

Seeds Germinating Inside Soil

When seeds start sprouting inside their container during the winter months, overwatering is usually an issue.

Even though most people do not realize this at first since all plants tend to slow down growth during colder months anyways.

If you have been noticing your succulent seeds sprouting repeatedly, then it is a sign that they are being watered too much.

Leaves Die Back to the Base

This is another indicator of overwatering because leaves do not tend to go from green on top to yellow underneath without there being an issue with their roots absorbing water properly in between.

This can be caused by several different reasons like bad soil or lack of sunlight.

But if this symptom continues after correcting these problems, it means your plant needs more drainage holes at the bottom.

This will allow for proper airflow when watering, so any excess moisture does not become trapped inside where rot begins.

White Spots on Leaves

If you notice white splotches of fungus growing on your succulents, then this is another sign that there has been too much moisture in the soil for their roots to absorb correctly.

If left untreated, it can cause irreversible damage, so stop watering immediately until all soil moisture has dried up entirely before re-watering again.

Leaves Appear Dry and Wrinkly Even if They Are Watered Regularly

If you have some dry leaves but are still getting regular waterings, this is because there might not be enough drainage holes at the bottom.

This can allow any extra liquid to flow out instead of sitting inside where it will rot.

This causes them to wilt under the surface because their roots cannot absorb water properly when sitting in the soil for too long.

Leaves Are Brown and Dying

If you see that your succulent leaves are brown underneath, it is a sign that there are more holes at the bottom. This will help prevent excess moisture from rotting your succulent from below.

If you notice any signs, stop watering your plants until you add proper drainage. If you water the plants when there is no drainage, they may die from fungus or rot.

Leaves Grow Mold

Another issue happens when there are no drainage holes at the bottom, which causes water to sit inside for too long and creates a perfect environment for fungus or rot.

If you see any of these signs, stop watering until proper drainage has been added. Fungus or rot will make the plants die even if they are watered again and again.

How To Save an Overwatered Succulent

When you have an overwatered cactus or succulent, it is essential to act fast. The sooner you save your plant, the better chances of recovery are!

There are a few things you can do to save your plant:

Remove the Excess Water From the Container

You may use a spoon or a small piece of paper.

Be careful not to damage it further, though! If that is already too late and leaves are turning yellow at their tips, cut them off completely – this will make room for new growth.

Place the Plant in a Bright and Dry Area

The best place to put your succulent is by a sunny window.

The sun will not only provide the necessary light, but it can also dry out the soil faster.

Prune Away Any Damaged Leaves or Stems

It is important to do this as soon as possible.

If you leave them on, the plant will rot and die sooner than it should! You can also use your fingers or a pair of clippers for this task.

Do Not Water It for a Few Days, Maybe Even up to Two Weeks

You may check if the soil is moist or dry by gently touching the top of the soil visible on top of its container.

If it feels damp and spongy when touched, do not add any more water. If it is dry, water your plant with tepid or room temperature water.

Once the soil feels completely dried out, and there are no visible signs of rot on its leaves, roots, or stems – you can start watering again!

Make Sure To Use Well-Draining Soil

Succulents require a particular type of soil that will allow for excess water and oxygen flow in it.

This is necessary so the roots can easily access both if needed!

A succulent soil mix is recommended for these types of plants.

Replant It in a Larger Container

A succulent planted in too small of a pot will hold onto its roots for longer than necessary, causing it to rot and be unable to absorb water so easily!

When you replant your plant into the new fresh soil mix with proper drainage holes – try not to disturb or remove any of its old root systems.

Do Not Water Until the Soil Is Completely Dry

Succulents require very little watering, so it is crucial never to overdo it!

Water your plant only when all of its soil has dried out – this will prevent any fungal infections and other types of rot that can affect a succulent’s health if left untreated for too long.

How To Prevent Overwatering a Succulent

There are several ways to prevent overwatering a succulent. The easiest method is to understand how often a succulent plant should be watered and how to water it correctly.

Succulent plants need to be watered when they are dry about an inch below their soil surface.

Succulents should be watered once every one to two weeks for most plants and more frequently if planted in a small container or during warm summer temperatures.

When plants are dormant during the winter months, succulents should be watered less frequently so the soil can dry out completely.

When watering succulents, water thoroughly to saturate all the soil immediately around the roots and allow excess moisture to drain from the bottom of the pot before re-watering.

Water slowly so it does not create puddles around your plant, which can cause root rot diseases.

Succulent plants need well-draining soils with coarse particles like sand, cactus mix, or crushed stone to help prevent overwatering your succulent by allowing excess water to drain through them quickly instead of pooling over long periods.

A healthy succulent requires good drainage, so using the appropriate container for your plant’s size is essential.

Succulents can be planted in decorative containers, but they need a good drainage system so excess water doesn’t pool around their roots and cause rot diseases.

Good drainage holes are key when planting succulent plants indoors or outdoors because it helps prevent overwatering and root rot.

Another way to prevent overwatering succulent plants is by placing them in an area with bright sunlight and more airflow.

Water evaporates quickly from the soil under hot, bright conditions, so plants do not stay wet long enough to develop root rot diseases or other problems associated with overwatering succulent plants.

In short, succulent plants should be watered once every one to two weeks and when watering, allow the soil around their roots to dry slightly between waterings.

Succulents require special attention when it comes to watering and drainage. The best way to prevent overwatering succulents is to provide them with the proper amount of water and drainage.

Final Thoughts

Taking care of succulents is easy but requires a little bit of maintenance and knowledge to ensure they remain healthy.

Succulents require less water than other types of houseplants or vegetation outside in the garden, so they should always be allowed to dry out in between waterings.

Overwatering is a common mistake that most people make when caring for succulents, and it is not difficult to avoid.

The best way to ensure that you’re watering your succulents correctly and enough, but not too much, is by sticking to a regular schedule for watering them.