How To Save An Overwatered Succulent

How To Save An Overwatered Succulent

Overwatering is an deceptively easy way to harm, or even kill, a succulent. Succulents need minimal water to get by and they grow and flourish even with periods of absence of water. If your succulents are overwatered it may be possible to save them if the damage is not too invasive.

The best ways to save an overwatered succulent are to let the roots air dry, keeping the succulent away from the sun, improving the drainage, and changing the soil. 

What are the signs of an overwatered succulent? 

You have an overwatered succulent if you notice that the soil is clumped, wet, and clogged with water. The leaves often become translucent and lighter and those closer to the bottom are turning brown and may have black spots while most of the leaves and stems have become squishy and bloated. Your succulent also looks unhealthy and it doesn’t have live roots.  

Can an overwatered succulent be saved?

Yes, you can still save your overwatered succulent especially if it’s still in the early stages of rot.  Most of the time, overwatered succulents will be able to recover with the right care and treatment.  Also a rotted leaf or stem may be saved and nurtured to be able to start a new plant.  

How to save an overwatered succulent?

Here are the steps that you should do to save your overwatered succulent:

1. Remove the plant from the wet soil. 

You have to dig and remove the succulent from the wet and clumpy soil then get rid of all excess water from its roots. 

2. Let the roots of the plant dry out for at least 3 days to one week. 

After you’ve taken out the plant and removed the excess soil and water, be sure to cut off the brown or black roots as they’re rotten already and won’t have any use anymore. Then, place the succulent in a mesh or strainer and keep it there until the roots have been air-dried at least 3 weeks to one week. 

3. Keep the plant away from direct sunlight.

While keeping the plant dry, make sure not to place it in a spot with direct sunlight as it may just worsen the situation since it’s already been to a lot of stress because of being overwatered.  It’s best to put it in a place with indirect sunlight.

4. If you notice that the roots are already dry, you can now replant the plant and be sure to change the soil and improve the drainage. 

Most of the time, it’s only the topsoil that has to be replaced with fresh succulent soil, especially if your plant is already planted in store-bought or homemade succulent soil. Scoop out the soil from the middle part, too, especially if the roots already has root rot. To ensure that the soil is suitable for succulents, see to it that it’s three parts potting soil, two parts poultry grit and one part perlite to ensure good drainage and ventilation. Another method you can try to improve the drainage is to put 2 inches of gravel or expanded shale on a separate pot that’s larger than the succulent pot and put your succulent planter in it so the roots won’t sit in excess water.  Always make sure that the gravel won’t be submerged in water. 

Will the leaves of your succulent grow back once it’s saved?

Yes, the leaves of your succulent should eventually grow back as long as long as there is no massive root rot.  You’ll know that your plant has recovered and out of the danger zone once you notice new, tiny leaves along the stems.  You will also notice growth from the sides, top, and bottom of your succulent. 

How to avoid overwatering your succulents?

Two big factors play an important role in ensuring that you’re not overwatering your succulents, the proper watering techniques, and the type of soil used. 

Proper watering techniques 

Succulents that are kept indoors don’t dry out quickly and don’t need to be watered always compared to those planted outdoors. Outdoor succulents are more exposed to sunlight and dry more quickly, thus, they need to be monitored and watered more compared to the indoor ones.

It’s also important that you’re familiar with your plants since there are types of succulents that don’t need as much water as the others. 

The burrito’s tail or donkey’s tail succulent don’t need too much water as they’ll easily rot. However, aeoniums or tree houseleeks prefer more water. Aside from the type of succulent and if it’s kept indoor or outdoor, you should also consider the climate and weather. Plants tend to need more water during summertime compared to wintertime.

Succulents also need to be watered more during their growing period which is usually during spring or early summer. Ideally, succulents that are kept indoors should be watered at least every 7 to 10 days during warmer months and at least every 2 to 3 weeks during wintertime.

It’s important to thoroughly water the plants and then let the soil dry out before watering them again. 

Type of soil used 

It’s not only the proper watering techniques that spell the success or doom of your succulents but also the type of soil used. Succulents thrive best in a porous sandy potting soil. These plants need a potting mix that drains well and doesn’t like to sit too long in wet soil. As much as these plants also need water they also need time to dry out. Recommended soil include the following: 

  •  a one is to one ratio solution of cactus mix combined with perlite 
  • a sandy soil mixture which is achieved by combining cactus mix and coarse sand on a one is to one ratio 
  • a combination of the cactus mix, perlite, and coarse sand in equal parts 

Aside from the proper type of soil and the proper watering techniques you should also remember to do these things to ensure that your succulents will survive should they become overwatered. 

  • Be sure to monitor the health of your plants by touch and sight.
  • Be wary if you see signs of wilting and root rot and act on it quickly. 
  • If you suspect that the plant is overwatered, pluck the plant from the soil to check the roots. 
  • Be sure to remove excess soil and rinse the roots to examine the plant condition. 
  • Check the stems for any signs of rot and remove rotting leaves. 
  • Should you see that there’s root rot, replace the used soil,  cut back the roots, and remove all visible signs of rot. 


It’s heartbreaking to discover that your precious succulents are drowning from being overwatered. However, don’t lose hope because your succulents can still be saved especially if it’s still in the early stages of root rot. You can save your plant by removing it from the wet soil, letting the roots dry out for three days to a week, and then replanting it in ideal sandy potting soil while ensuring that there’s ample drainage. 

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