Succulent Leaves Falling Off

Succulent Leaves Falling Off

First-time succulent collectors tend to be overzealous with their plants. They tend to fuss with them too much or overwater them. While extra care is not a bad thing, it could be detrimental to your succulents if taken too far. These hardy plants can live with little; overwatering them may actually result in leaves falling off. 

Succulent leaves falling off: What are the reasons?

Succulent leaves are falling off for some of the following reasons:

1. It could be due to regular leaf loss. 

First-time succulent owners tend to panic if they see leaves falling off their plants. However,  if leaves are falling off occasionally near the stem’s bottom, it is not a cause for worry. This may just be part of the regular leaf loss that succulents go through. Leaves tend to fall off when they lose their function and if shaded by higher growth near the crown of the plant. 

2. It could be due to heat shock. 

Succulents thrive in areas with high temperatures and can tolerate very little moisture. But this does not mean that they are indestructible, especially if they have just been newly planted and are still adjusting to the new environment. Being exposed to direct sunlight for a long period can take a toll on the plants, causing heat shock.

If you notice the leaves turning red or orange and seeming about to fall off, move the plants to a shaded area or provide sun protection, such as netting. 

3. It could be due to cold shock. 

Succulents are drought-resistant plants which makes them very vulnerable to cold weather or low temperatures. Cold shock is commonly characterized by drooping leaves or leaves that turn black before drooping. If this is the case, move the affected plants to a protected area such as the garage. Also, do not water succulents during cold weather.

Interestingly, there are at least two main varieties of succulents that can tolerate very low temperatures. These are Stonecrop sedums and Sempervivums (hens and chicks). They can even tolerate temperatures as low as -20 degrees Fahrenheit. 

4. It may be because they are overwatered. 

Most first-time succulent owners tend to fuss a lot with their plants. They tend to spoil them by watering them often during the day. However, this could be detrimental to succulents because of their low moisture tolerance.  Overwatering leads to falling leaves because the excess water causes swelling in the cell walls to the point of bursting. 

If you notice that the leaves are turning soft, reduce watering and learn proper watering techniques from reputable online sites about succulent care. Do not add more water until the soil becomes entirely dry. This will depend on how much light the affected plant receives and the size of its root system. Make sure that the pot has a drainage hole and that the potting mixis of high drainage variety.

5. It may be underwatered. 

Just as succulent leaves tend to fall off if overwatered, they can also suffer the same fate if they are underwatered. Being left unwatered for a few days under the scorching heat of the sun can result in shriveled and wilted leaves that eventually fall off. To save your plants, water them adequately and keep a close eye on them to avoid this predicament.

How often do succulents need watering?

Succulents should be watered only when the soil has completely dried out.  These plants vary when it comes to moisture tolerance, so there is no universal watering schedule that works for succulents in every climate.  It is safe to say that it depends on the varieties of succulents. Moreover, indoor succulent growers suggest that watering every 14 to 21 days is sufficient to keep the plants alive. 

Do succulent leaves grow back after falling off?

No, succulent leaves cannot grow back after falling off. They cannot regrow again from the base or the middle of the plant. A new leaf cannot grow in the place of a leaf that has fallen off. 

You can still propagate the leaves that have fallen off as long as they are not too dry or wilted.  Place them in a dry place for a couple of days and move them into succulent soil. Wait until you notice pink sprouts. At this time, you can water them with a spray bottle.  The success rate of propagating new succulents is higher if you plant more leaves. 


Succulents add to the aesthetic beauty of your rooms or patio. They are easy to propagate and care for, but if you spoil them, it can cause their leaves to fall off.  The common reasons for succulent leaves falling off include overwatering, regular leaf loss, and underwatering. However, it could also be due to heat or cold shock. 

Image: / alexander ruiz

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