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Over-Watered Succulents: Prevention, Identification, and Saving

Over-Watered Succulents: Prevention, Identification, and Saving
Over-Watered Succulents: Prevention, Identification, and Saving

Because desert plants still need water, just not as much as you think.

We get it, you want to give your succulent all the love. It’s adorable, it makes you happy, and all it asks for in return is soil, water, light, and some extra nutrients every now and then. But water isn’t the way to your succulent’s heart, trust us. If you’re a new succulent parent, or you’ve had them for years and just don’t know what you’re doing wrong, we’re about to break it down for you.

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Watering Your Succulents

When you think about watering your succulents, keep in mind: these are desert plants. They are used to no water for long periods of time, followed by heavy rains. Their soil needs time to dry out completely before they get their next “downpour.” So when you’re watering succulents at home, mimic those conditions.

How to Water:

1. Using a watering can or cup (NOT a spray bottle), give your succulent a good soak until water drips out of the pot’s drainage hole.

2. Don’t water it again until the soil is completely dry. Depending on the season, that can be anywhere from 7 to 30 days.

We refer to this watering technique as the Drench + Dry Watering Method, where you literally drench your bb with water and then let the soil dry before the next soak!

Signs of Overwatering

Early signs: 

Notice the succulent above, this succ is suffering from a mild case of being overwatered. At this stage your bb can still be saved! Mazel Tov! To save a slightly overwatered bb, pluck the sad leaves, repot the plant, and let the soil completely dry in between waterings.

• Bloated leaves that fall off with at the slightest touch, or on their own

Soil that never seems to dry out completely

Moderately Overwatered Succulent:

In the plant above, you can see the overwatered leaves at the bottom. When your bb looks like this the best thing to try top cutting the plant and propagate the cutting. The earlier you can catch overwatering the better.

• Bloated leaves on the bottom of the plant that will fall off with at the slightest touch, or on their own

• Healthy looking leaves or rosette at the top of the plant

Late-stage signs:

Above is an extremely overwatered succ #sad. Once your bb looks like this it is time to plan the funeral and learn from your mistakes. We love our succulents, but let’s love from a bit more of a distance.

Yellow, translucent leaves that are soft and mushy to the touch (usually the bottom leaves are the first to show these signs)

Check out the picture above. The leaf on the left is from an overwatered succulent. It’s a pale yellow, you can see light shine through it, and it’s mushy and wet.The leaf on the right is from a healthy succulent. It’s totally opaque, full but firm, and has a nice deep green color.

Pro Tip: Pick up your pot after you’ve watered and feel how heavy it is. Then pick it up a week later, and again a week later. Notice how it loses weight as the soil starts to dry. As you become more familiar with the weight of dry soil, you won’t have to stick your finger in to check.

Saving Your Over-Watered Succulent

Over-watered succulents are notoriously difficult to save, but it’s worth a try! First, un-pot your succulent, crumble away the dirt around its roots, and check for root rot, which presents itself as a black stem and dark brown/black roots.

Scenario 1: No root rot. If there’s no sign of root rot, you can repot your succulent in dry cactus soil and wait a few weeks to water. If it had any mushy leaves, gently remove and toss ’em.

Scenario 2: Root rot is present. If there is root rot, you’ll treat it like a propagated cutting: 

1. Cut off the top part of the succulent above the rotted roots or rotted stem, depending on how far up the rot has traveled

2. Remove leaves around the base to create a small stem

3. Leave that top part of your succulent out for a few days so a callus can form where you cut it from the roots

4. Once a callus has formed, nestle it back into cactus soil and water lightly (just enough to wet the topsoil) once a week

5. After a few weeks, new roots will have sprouted and you’ll have a healthy plant again!


And that’s the scoop! An under-watered succulent bounces back with ease, but the same cannot be said for your over-watered babes. Water thoroughly but infrequently and you’ll grow very happy succulents!

Ready for more succulents now that you know you won’t kill them by watering too much? Get $5 off your first box now!

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As always, we’re here to answer all of your succulent care questions, so don’t hesitate to reach out.