How to Spot and Revive an Underwatered Echeveria Plant

By | Updated July 15, 2023

Key Takeaways

  • Wilting and drooping leaves, dry and crispy leaves, slow growth and yellowing, and shrinking and wrinkled leaves, are all signs of an underwatered Echeveria plant.
  • Environmental factors such as dry weather, low humidity levels, and poor soil quality can cause underwatering. Additionally, infrequent watering or not providing enough water are common watering habits that lead to this issue.
  • To revive an underwatered Echeveria plant, gradually increase water over one to two weeks, soak it in water if necessary, and trim off any dead or damaged leaves before repotting it in fresh soil with proper drainage. Provide adequate lighting and temperature conditions while monitoring progress closely for steady healing.

With their striking appearance and drought-tolerant nature, Echeveria plants have become popular among indoor enthusiasts. 

Yet, in our quest to avoid overwatering these beautiful succulents, we often face the challenge of underwatering them instead.

Here we’ll guide you on identifying an underwatered Echeveria, pinpoint possible causes for this issue, and, most importantly – revive your beloved plant.

Identifying An Underwatered Echeveria

If your Echeveria plant is not getting enough water, you may notice its leaves wilting and drooping, becoming dry and crispy, growing slowly and turning yellow, or even shrinking and wrinkling.

Wilting And Drooping Leaves

One common sign that your Echeveria plant is underwatered is the presence of wilting and drooping leaves. 

This occurs when the plant does not receive sufficient water to maintain turgor pressure, causing its cells to deflate and leading to drooping foliage.

For instance, you may notice that the once plump and firm leaves now appear limp, lifeless, or even curled inwards.

Catching these symptoms early on is crucial for ensuring the health of your Echeveria plant. 

Keep a close eye on any noticeable changes in leaf structure or appearance, as neglecting underwatered plants could ultimately lead to irreversible damage or even loss of the entire plant.

Dry And Crispy Leaves

One of the most noticeable indications of an underwatered Echeveria plant is the presence of dry and crispy leaves. 

This occurs when insufficient water intake causes the succulent’s cells to lose their turgidity, resulting in a brittle and fragile texture.

It’s essential not to confuse this symptom with normal aging; older leaves on healthy plants will also naturally become brown and dry as they reach maturity, making way for new growth.

However, underwatering is likely at play if you notice multiple layers of dehydrated foliage across your Echeveria.

Slow Growth And Yellowing

An underwatered Echeveria plant may display slow growth and yellowing leaves as it lacks the necessary hydration to thrive. 

As these succulents are drought-tolerant, they can withstand periods of neglect; however, a consistent lack of water will eventually take its toll on them.

Yellow leaves often indicate that the plant is not receiving adequate moisture for proper nutrient absorption, affecting its growth rate and overall health.

For example, you might notice that your once vibrant and fast-growing Echeveria has become increasingly stagnant over time – this could be a sign of insufficient watering.

If other factors, such as poor lighting or temperature fluctuations, have been ruled out, it is crucial to reassess your watering habits and modify them accordingly to ensure your succulent returns to optimal health.

Shrinking And Wrinkled Leaves

Shrinking and wrinkled leaves on an Echeveria plant are a sign of dehydration due to lack of water. 

When the plant does not get enough moisture, it experiences a drop in internal water pressure, causing the leaves to shrivel and wrinkle.

If left unaddressed, this can lead to permanent damage or even death of the plant. 

Over time, underwatering can also cause the roots to die back, making it difficult for the plant to absorb water even when you start watering regularly again.

To revive your underwatered Echeveria plant, gradually increase your water until the soil is moist but not soaking wet.

Causes Of Underwatering

Underwatering may be caused by environmental factors such as dry weather, lack of humidity, poor soil quality, or watering habits like infrequent watering or not providing enough water.

Understanding the causes will help prevent this problem from happening to your precious Echeveria plants.

Environmental Factors

The environment plays a crucial role in the growth and health of Echeveria plants. 

Factors such as temperature, humidity, and airflow can all affect their watering needs.

For example, Echeveria plants require more frequent watering during hot summer when temperatures are higher than during cooler seasons.

In addition to temperature and humidity, airflow is an important environmental factor. 

Poor air circulation can lead to stagnant moisture around the leaves, which increases the risk of fungal diseases like powdery mildew or botrytis.

Watering Habits

Proper watering habits are crucial for the health and survival of your echeveria plants. 

Overwatering or underwatering can cause significant damage to these succulents, leading to rotting roots, brown spots on leaves, and even death.

To avoid this, it’s essential to water your echeverias only when the soil is dry, and the plant shows slight signs of dehydration.

Additionally, ensure you use a well-draining potting mix and a container with drainage holes. 

This will prevent excess moisture from getting trapped in the soil and causing root rot or other issues.

Remember not to overdo it – succulents like echeverias prefer drier conditions; therefore, they don’t need as much water as other indoor plants.

How To Revive An Underwatered Echeveria

If your Echeveria has been underwatered, you can revive it by gradually increasing the amount of water you give it throughout one to two weeks. 

You should also soak the plant in water, remove dead or damaged leaves, repot it in fresh soil that drains well, ensure it gets the right amount of light and temperature, and monitor its progress.

Gradually Increase Water

One of the most crucial steps is to increase water to revive an underwatered Echeveria plant gradually. 

Pouring a large amount of water all at once may cause further damage to the plant.

Instead, give your succulent a little water every few days for 1-2 weeks until it shows signs of new growth and recovery. 

It’s important to remember not to overwater as well since excess moisture can lead to root rot.

Checking soil moisture regularly is essential; if the top inch feels dry, it’s time to add a small amount of water and wait for it to soak in before adding any more.

Soak The Plant In Water

Try soaking the plant in water to revive an underwatered echeveria. 

In a shallow tray or bowl, fill it with enough water to cover the pot’s base and let it soak for about 30 minutes.

The soil will absorb moisture slowly without overwatering the Echeveria plant.

It is important not to leave your Echeveria in standing water as this may lead to root rot. 

Ensure proper drainage by providing your plant with well-draining soil and a pot with suitable drainage holes at the bottom.

Trim Off Any Dead Or Damaged Leaves

Trimming off dead or damaged leaves from your underwatered Echeveria plant is crucial to reviving it. 

This can help the plant focus on producing new growth rather than putting energy into trying to heal or sustain damaged parts.

It might seem daunting to cut off healthy-looking leaves, but it is necessary for the plant’s overall health. 

After trimming off the dead or damaged leaves, let the cutting dry for three to five days before attempting to water again.

If your Echeveria has been underwatered for an extended period, you may need to trim more extensively, including cutting back some stems.

Repot In Fresh, Well-Draining Soil

If your underwatered Echeveria is not showing signs of recovery, it might be time to repot the plant in fresh, well-draining soil. 

This will help the roots recover and promote healthy growth.

To do this, gently remove the plant from its current pot and examine the root system for any signs of rot or damage. 

Trim off dead or damaged roots before repotting in a new container with a fresh potting mix for succulents.

It’s important to use well-draining soil that will allow excess water to drain away from the roots, preventing them from sitting in damp conditions, which can lead to further issues such as root rot.

Provide Proper Lighting And Temperature

Proper lighting and temperature are crucial for the growth and survival of Echeveria plants. 

These succulents thrive in bright, indirect sunlight, preferably facing south or west, with about six hours of light daily.

If the plant is not getting enough light, it may become leggy and stretched out with more space between leaves. 

On the other hand, exposure to direct sunlight for extended periods can cause sunburns on its leaves.

In terms of temperature, Echeverias prefer warm environments ranging from 60°F to 85°F (15°C to 29°C). 

They cannot tolerate extreme cold as they are native to Mexico and require good air circulation around them.

Monitor Progress

After taking steps to revive your underwatered Echeveria, it’s important to monitor its progress as it rehydrates. 

The plant may take several weeks to recover fully, so be patient and observant.

Keep an eye on the leaves, which should plump up and lose their wrinkles once they have absorbed enough water. 

Check the soil regularly with your finger or a moisture meter to ensure it is not too wet or dry.

Every Echeveria is unique and may respond differently to different watering habits and environments.

How To Properly Water An Echeveria

To water an Echeveria properly, it is essential to comprehend its water requirements, select an appropriate soil and pot, adapt the watering frequency according to the season and surroundings, guarantee adequate drainage, and be vigilant for indications of over or underwatering. 

Keep reading to discover more.

Understanding The Water Needs Of Echeveria

Proper watering is crucial for the health and survival of Echeveria plants. 

These succulents are adapted to warm, dry conditions with plenty of sunlight, so overwatering should be avoided.

Underwatered plants will have wrinkled and shriveled leaves, while overwatered ones may suffer from rot or become mushy. 

To determine when your Echeveria needs watering, stick a finger into the soil up to the knuckle; if it feels dry at this depth, it’s time to water.

When watering your Echeveria plant in a container, ensure drainage holes at the bottom to avoid excess moisture lurking beneath the soil level.

Any excess water present will come through the hole, preventing root rot or damaging aerial roots attached underneath its stem base.

Choosing The Right Soil And Pot

Choosing the right soil and pot is crucial in keeping your Echeveria plant healthy. 

The ideal soil mix for Echeveria plants should be well-draining to prevent excess moisture, which can lead to root rot.

A succulent potting mix with added perlite or sand is an excellent option for improved drainage.

It’s also important to choose the appropriate pot size based on how big your Echeveria plant is currently and how much room it needs for future growth. 

Too small of a pot can stunt growth and cause stress, while too large may retain excess water that can harm its roots.

Watering Frequency And Amount

Proper watering is crucial for the health and survival of your Echeveria. Generally, it’s best to water your plant once every week for ten days. 

However, the frequency and amount depend on several factors, such as temperature, humidity, pot size, and soil type.

It’s essential to avoid watering your Echeveria on a schedule since different plants have different needs. 

Instead, pay attention to the state of the plant and weather conditions before giving it water.

Overwatering can harm succulent plants like Echeverias since they store water in their leaves and stems.

Adjusting Watering Schedule Based On Season And Environment

Echeveria plants are drought-tolerant and require less water compared to other houseplants. 

However, adjusting their watering schedule is essential based on the season and environment.

During summer or hot weather, succulent plants become dormant and use less water than usual, so the watering frequency should be reduced to once every 1-2 weeks.

On the other hand, during winter or low temperatures, Echeveria plants require even less water because they don’t need as much moisture to survive.

Proper Drainage

One of the most important factors in keeping your Echeveria plant healthy is ensuring that it has proper drainage. 

Poor drainage can lead to a buildup of excess water, which can cause root rot and other problems for your succulent.

To ensure proper drainage, ensure your pot has enough holes at the bottom to allow water to escape.

Another way to promote good drainage is using a well-draining soil mix when repotting or planting new Echeveria plants. 

This soil type allows excess water to drain away from the roots quickly, preventing damage and promoting healthy growth.

Final Thoughts

Reviving an underwatered Echeveria plant takes patience and attention, but it is possible with the right care. 

By promptly identifying the signs of underwatering and addressing the issue, you can ensure your Echeveria thrives again in no time.

To keep your plant healthy, slowly increase the water it receives. 

If needed, soak the plant to ensure it is adequately hydrated. 

Trim away dead or damaged leaves, and repot them in fresh soil with proper drainage. 

Ensure the plant gets enough light and is in a favorable temperature environment. 

Keep a close eye on its progress to ensure it stays healthy.

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