Succulent Leaves Curling

Succulent Leaves Curling

Curling leaves on a succulent can be normal depending on the type of succulent, but if the leaves are curling down or inwards, that usually means that there is something wrong with your plant.

In this article, we will discuss the possible causes of your succulent’s curling leaves. 

Why are the leaves of my succulents curling?

The succulent is underwatered.

Succulents are hardy plants that are often drought-tolerant. They can go up to two weeks without water and still come out okay. But this does not mean that you can neglect watering your succulents for long periods of time. Your watering schedule should adapt to the season, so if it is summertime, your plant may need to be watered more frequently than during the winter.

You will know that your succulent is underwatered if its leaves are curling or pointing downwards, the leaves have wrinkles on them, the plant is starting to grow aerial roots, and if the leaves are looking dull and rubbery.

Remedy this by properly watering your plants. Make sure that you drench the soil in the pot until you can see the excess water draining from the bottom of the pot. Water the plant whenever you notice that the soil has become dry to the touch.

The succulent is overwatered.

Overwatering your succulents is a mistake plenty of owners make. What you need to remember is that succulents live in very dry places that get very little rain. They are adept at storing water in their stems and leaves. This stored water is what they will consume until the next time they are watered.

They do not need to be watered every day or even every 4 days. The best way to know when to water them is by touching the soil.

Overwatered plants’ leaves will curl or droop downwards because they become too heavy with all the water they are absorbing. Other signs of an overwatered plant are leaves curling downward, leaves feeling soft and mushy, leaves dropping off easily, and leaves looking pale or translucent. These are effects of root rot and usually mean that your plant can no longer be salvaged.

The succulent is getting too much light.

Depending on the type of succulent, they often need more sunlight than most plants, but there are succulents that prefer to be in the shade so they get only a limited amount of sunlight. When these more sensitive plants get sunburned, their leaves will start to curl inwards and downwards. Try to keep your succulents in a shaded area during the summer months.

If you want to expose them to direct sunlight, do it in the morning or at dusk when the sunlight is the least harsh.

The succulent is not getting enough light.

Lack of light can also cause the curling of leaves in succulents. All plants need light to grow well because it helps your plant absorb nutrients more efficiently. Oftentimes, all succulents need is around four hours of sunlight, but it will ultimately depend on the type of succulent. The type also determines whether they prefer direct or indirect light.

Not receiving enough light happens more often to plants that are grown indoors in a room with poor lighting. You can remedy this by placing the plant in a windowsill that faces the south. If you are in an area with little sunlight to begin with, you might need to invest in a grow light to make up for the lack of natural sunlight. The plant should return to normal after several days of getting sufficient sunlight.

The succulent is planted in the wrong kind of soil.

Some people think that just because succulents are tough plants that can withstand desert temperatures, they need only the absolute minimum in plant care and will grow anyway. This is not the case: in nature, succulents grow in very sandy soil. If you plant them in regular gardening soil, it is much too waterlogged and nutrient-rich for them.

Succulents like their soil to be airy and able to drain water well. They do not like their roots being soaked in water because they will drown due to root rot. You might not be overwatering your plant, but if the soil you are using is keeping in too much water, this will still produce the same effects, such as curling leaves.

The succulent is still adjusting to a new place.

Your indoor plant may not be getting enough sunlight, so you take it outside and leave it for hours in direct sunlight. You might notice that instead of getting better, the curling leaves seem to have worsened. This may be because you took the plant from very little sunlight to getting blasted underneath the sun. Your plant is going to become very stressed.

Make sure that when transferring the succulent from a place with no light to one with a lot of light that you do the transition slowly and give the plant enough time to acclimate to its new situation.

The succulent is stressed from being transplanted.

Succulents are living things that have comfort zones. If you take them away from the soil and damage some of their roots in the process, they might display this stress through the curling and pointing downwards of their leaves. Using a different kind of soil when you repot your plant can also be another cause of stress to your plant.

Do not overwhelm your plant by repotting it into a much larger pot compared to its last.


When you see that the leaves on your succulent are curling and pointing downwards, it usually means that there is something wrong with it.

Common causes of curling leaves are underwatering, overwatering, too much light, not enough sunlight, using the wrong soil, the succulent’s adjusting to new conditions, or stress on the plant.

Even though succulents are tough plants that can be grown anywhere, you still have to do your part as a responsible owner and do research on how to properly care for your specific succulents. Succulents are not that hard to care for;  once you have a routine that works for them, they will thrive and the curling leaves will return back to normal.

Image: / Akchamczuk