Wondering if your succulent will ever grow back leaves that it lost?
The long and short of it is no, leaves will not grow back on the stem where the leaves fell from. But that is not necessarily bad. Your succulent will grow new leaves from its top.
Should you expect succulent leaves to grow back?
If your plant is otherwise healthy and does not exhibit other symptoms, you need not worry much about your succulent. Although leaves will not grow back on the area where these were originally from, your plant will not go bald for too long. You can expect new leaves to grow on top of the succulent.
In some types of succulents, fallen leaves are replaced by offshoots in the stems where these came from. Either way, you just need to be patient and wait until your plant looks luxurious again.
But what can you do if you are anxious about the appearance of your succulent? One option you can consider is replanting your succulent. First, take a look at the succulent and find an area above the bald spot. Using either a pair of pruning scissors or a sharp knife, cut the head of the succulent.
Afterward, put that top part directly to dry soil. Allow two weeks to pass before watering the part of the plant that you cut off. Within a few days or weeks, this portion of the plant will grow new roots and turn into a completely new plant. Once its roots become fully-established, it can resume its growth.
Why do succulents drop leaves?
But the more pressing question you should ask is why your plant is losing leaves. A succulent dropping leaves is not necessarily bad. Just like any other plant, a succulent will drop leaves when these have lost their utility to the plant.
1. Usual leaf loss
When a leaf is no longer useful to the plant, it will turn brown and crispy. This simply means that the plant has re-absorbed all the nutrients from this leaf. Usually, succulents drop their bottom leaves which are then replaced by new leaf growth at the top.
2. Extreme heat shock
Many varieties of succulents originate from arid regions. These plants have developed adaptations to both intense sunlight and high temperatures. That, however, does not mean that succulents cannot succumb to extreme heat. Even when a succulent is placed in a shaded area, it can still suffer heat shock if the ambient temperature is too hot for the plant to handle.
Young succulents are particularly vulnerable to heat shock. If you have just moved your succulent outdoors after spending a substantial time indoors, it may also become vulnerable to heat shock if it has not adjusted to its new environment.
How do you know for sure if your succulent is suffering extreme heat stress? When a succulent is subjected to extreme heat, its leaves wilt. In some species, the leaves may change color into red or orange. You will also notice that its leaves drop even with the slightest touch.
A quick remedy for heat shock is to move the plant in a cooler location, preferably one with ample shade. However, you need to make sure that there is no substantial difference in the temperatures between the plant’s original location and the area where you are bringing it.
3. Cold shock
Although a significant number of succulents come from arid climates, a good number of these plants come from alpine climates where temperatures can reach freezing or sub-zero temperatures.
But for a sizable number of succulents, particularly the soft or tender ones, extreme cold can cause damage. Succulents store water in their fleshy parts, including their leaves. When the temperature reaches a near-freezing level, the water inside a succulent’s individual cells become frozen. Eventually, these cells can burst, causing irreparable damage.
Before this happens, you will notice that the leaves of the plant begin turning black and start drooping. Save your succulent from imminent danger by moving it to a warmer area.
4. Over and under-watering
Unlike other plants, succulents do not need much water to thrive. With their unique ability to store water in their individual cells, succulents are more than equipped to handle droughts.
Over-watering is detrimental to succulent health. As such, avoid overwatering your plant. Otherwise, you can unknowingly kill it. Make sure that you use a fast-draining soil for its container and water your plant when its soil is dry. Overwatered succulents have leaves that look and feel soft. These leaves may also take a yellowish tinge.
Although very few people do it, it is possible to under-water succulents. Perhaps you have been too busy lately or you simply forgot to water your plants. Succulents that have been under-watered will have leaves that are soft and shriveled. The leaves usually retain their original color. Even the slightest touch can lead to dropped leaves. Left unchecked, the leaves eventually turn brown and continue to shrivel. In most cases, it is easier to turn things around for an under-watered succulent compared to one that has been overwatered.
Turning a new leaf
If you have an otherwise healthy succulent, leaf loss should not be a cause for concern. Plants, including succulents, lose leaves naturally. Eventually, your succulent will grow leaves, but not in the area where the dropped leaves came from.
However, the loss of leaves can sometimes signify a larger problem at hand, especially if you notice other symptoms. If you notice anything out of the usual, apart from dropped leaves, act quickly to save your plant.
Image: Istockphoto.com / Teenoo