Over-zealous or first-time succulent owners can sometimes care too much for their plants. They tend to water them without checking whether there is already too much water for the plants to handle. As a result, the plants become mushy, bloated and yellowing. This article identifies the signs of overwatering succulents and the steps you can take to prevent this.
Signs of Overwatering Succulents
1. The plants have pale leaves.
Succulents that are overwatered tend to have pale leaves and may even start to look translucent or glassy. Certain species have naturally lighter leaves, like those in the Sedum genus, but these turn even paler when they are overwatered.
2. The leaves are very flimsy.
Overwatered leaves lack integrity and the slightest touch can cause low-hanging leaves to fall off easily.
3. The leaves are bursting and mushy.
If you notice some fallen leaves on the soil that look swollen and mushy, this could be a sure sign that your succulent is overwatered. Fallen leaves often provide clues to a plant’s overall status.
4. The plant develops root rot.
Root rot is a common sign of overwatered succulents. The roots will start to rot, characterized by dull brown and black spots rising from the soil-part of succulents. The infection spreads easily and will also affect the leaves and other parts, until finally it affects the entire plant.
What should you do to save overwatered succulents?
These are the steps you should take to save your overwatered succulents:
1. Discontinue watering the affected plants.
If you start to notice signs of overwatering succulents, stop providing the plants with water at once. This will help them recuperate and be able to bounce back to health. Give them a rest for at least a week and after the seventh day, touch the soil and check if it is moist. If it is less moist, keep the plant as is, but if the soil is still too moist you need to re-pot the plant with fresh and fast-draining soil.
To check if it is time to resume watering the affected plants, check the leaves and see if they are saturated with color. If the plants already look healthy and firm to the touch, you can water them, only repeating once the soil has already dried out.
2. Uproot the affected plants if they look very sickly.
If the plants look too sickly, uproot them to spare them from the continued exposure to moisture. By doing so, it will also alert you to any rot affecting the roots. Dig the plants out from the soil gently, but be careful not to damage the leaves, stem and root system.
Shake any clumps of soil from the delicate, hair-like roots. Place them on a clean and dry cloth and let them dry out for a few days, keeping them away from direct sunlight.
Once the plants regain a better color and the leaves become firm, re-pot them in fast-draining succulent soil. Avoid soil mixes that contain peat moss, as these tend to hold moisture for longer. You can make your own succulent soil by mixing equal parts of potting soil, perlite or pumice, and coarse sand. The pots or planters should have enough drainage holes.
3. Cut off the rotten parts so you can still save the healthy part of the plants.
If there are rotten parts of the succulents, cut them off with one clean swipe using a washed, straight knife. Leave the rotten half on the pot and observe whether it will continue to live over the next few days. This is usually unlikely, but even rotten succulents can still produce new growths. Do not water them, but place them near warm sunlight and fresh air and observe for the next one to two weeks.
Place the healthy parts on a clean, dry sheet and over the next few days they will produce new root systems. Re-pot them in the next one to two weeks and if the leaves shrivel, mist the cuttings with water but avoid placing them in a vase full of water.
4. Salvage any viable leaves that you can.
If most of the plants are already rotten but there are still leaves left, try to save whatever you can. Pull away any whole and intact leaves from the stem, since only complete leaves will likely survive the propagation process. Try to collect as many viable leaves as possible to increase the chance of producing new growth.
Place the viable leaves on a tray layered with potting mix and put it in a warm room with fresh air and indirect sunlight. After a few weeks, you will notice tiny replicas of the mother plant growing from the edges of the leaves, along with a root system. You can transfer them to a new pot once the outgrowths are big enough.
Tips on how to properly water your succulents
Here are some tips on how to properly water your succulents:
- Always use a long-spout watering can.
- Avoid routine watering.
- Plants are better off underwatered than overwatered.
Succulents are easy to care for and can thrive in areas where there is very little rain or moisture. When they are overwatered, these plants tend to have mushy, pale and flimsy leaves. They may also develop root rot and eventually die. To avoid this, discontinue watering them and give them a rest for at least a week. Only water your plants when the soil has dried out, and if the plant has rotted, try to salvage the viable leaves as these can be propagated and produce new growths.
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