How to Save an Overwatered Succulent

How to Save an Overwatered Succulent?

Do you think your succulents are dying? Well, although it may seem it is not necessarily so.

If you are looking for help or advice, I will guide you so you can figure out if your succulent plants is dying, and if so, what to do or how to revive a succulent.

Commonly, this confusion occurs, in some cases, it may be that you are not doing anything wrong, or on the contrary, your plants are suffering from excess water or lack of irrigation.

First, just because your succulent’s leaves are dying doesn’t always mean your plant is, or that you’re doing something wrong. In fact, like all plants, the leaves of succulent plants will not live forever – this is a natural reaction.

You may like Water Propagation For Succulents

As the plant grows, it creates new leaves, leaving old ones to die.

If the leaves start to look ugly or fidgety, take them gently from the base of the plant and throw them away.

The dry, wrinkled leaves at the bottom of the succulent are normal. When you remove the leaves, keep the plant in the pot so it does not disturb the roots.

Only remove leaves that are easily detached or are totally dead.

Although succulents are known for being strong and durable plants, situations can arise that damage them.

Because they are desert plants, they require little water, and are generally not susceptible to infestation by insects and pests, but excess water can attract them as well as cause root or stem rot of plants.

If your succulents rot, take action, you can save them, only if they are treated immediately.

Growing healthy succulent plants means choosing the right substrate, taking care that they receive the right light, watering correctly and even fertilizing when they need it.

In a climate like the Mediterranean, succulent plants work very well and I am becoming more and more fond of them, but I recognize that the beginnings were not easy.

I lost many with my rookie mistakes, some due to lack of water and others due to excess. Now that I know how to keep them healthy, I can tell how to make them more beautiful every day.

Excess water is deadly for succulents and it is very easy to drown them. So today I teach you how to save a rotting succulent from excess water.

Dried out, dying leaves

Leaves change color during the autumn because the amounts of pigments change as the leaves prepare to fall from the trees. All leaves gradually lose chlorophyll during the growing season, and this loss accelerates before leaf fall.

Under optimal conditions this process of chlorophyll loss is very orderly and allows the plants to resorb much of the nitrogen in the structure of the pigment molecule.

Carotenoid pigments are also lost from the plastids during aging, but some of them are retained in the plastids after the chlorophyll is removed; this produces autumn leaves with yellow colors. In unusual cases, sometimes in winterberry holly, a fair amount of chlorophyll is left in the leaves when they fall. Such leaves are a pale green in color, or perhaps yellow-green from the mixture of chlorophyll and carotenoids.

In the case of your succulent you have to understand that is a normal prosses.

Unless you’re deliberately pouring too much water on your succulent if is the case then we need to fix that.

Overwater Succulents vs Underwater Succulent

Succulent plants are one of the easiest plant to care for. Since they do not require too much attention but we have to agree there is always a problem with the watering.

Here I teach how to do it properly. 

Overwatering Succulents

Overwatering is a relatively easy mistake to diagnose, and many symptoms of overwatering are unique to it.

When diagnosing a sad plant sign, it’s important to look at the plant as a whole, and not just the plant part that’s negatively affected.

Although we think of overwatering as just adding too much water to a plant’s potting mix what’s really going on is that the surrounding soil is not drying out fast enough.

It may very well be from too much water (and most commonly is), but it may also be from not enough natural sunlight.

If you water a plant with the appropriate amount of water, but it doesn’t get enough sunlight, then the potting mix will stay moist, and the plant will be effectively overwatered. 

The first thing you should do, when diagnosing an overwatered plant, is to feel the plant’s potting mix! Feel the mix a few inches deep.

If it feels moist or wet, it is most likely overwatered. Another sign of overwatering can be fungus gnats. Fungus gnats feed on the fungi that show up in moist environments.

They proliferate when the soil stays too wet for too long. But don’t fret — you can get rid of them. 

In addition to signs like wet potting mix and fungus gnats, the lower leaves of your overwatered plant will start to turn yellow, and then you may even see blackening at the base of said plant.

If you see base mushiness or rot, it may be game over for your plant depending on the variety, so try to catch it early.

The best way to keep a plant from being overwatered is to give the plant water only when the potting mix is dry — and to give it enough light and warmth to help dry out efficiently.

It is definitely easier to overwater a plant in a non-draining container, so consider repotting to a planter with drainage holes (or add a layer of lava rocks to the bottom of a container within holes).

If your plant’s leaves are starting to look yellow and transparent, and feel soggy or mushy to the touch, it’s likely suffered from overwatering.

An early sign of over-watering is that leaves will start to fall off with just a slight bump.

If you start to notice soft black spots on your plant’s leaves or stem, the over-watering is getting severe, and it may be difficult to save your succulent.

How to save an overwatered succulent

1. Check the plant for infected areas. They usually appear as black or dark brown spots, usually in the lower part of the plant. Other signs of rotting root, or stem, include wrinkled skin with a dark tint bordering the infected area.

2. Automatically stop watering a rotting succulent plant; remove it from its pot; remove the mixture from the ground separately; and clean the pot thoroughly to ensure that no fungus remains.

3.Cut off the infected black stem of the plant with a garden knife. Let the healthy portion of the succulent dry naturally, in direct sunlight, for several hours. If other areas of the plant show signs of rot, even minimal, keep an eye on it. Succulents can recover from stem rot if they are properly watered and placed in a warm, dry location.

4.Using the clean or new pot, combine with equal parts soil, coarse sand, and peat moss. Do not reuse any material used on the infected plant.

5.Pour about 5 cm of the mixture into the pot. Place the freshly cured succulent in the pot with the roots on top of the soil. Fill the pot with the soil mixture until it reaches the base of the stems. Firmly apply the soil around the plant.

6.Place your succulent in a warm, lighted place. Succulents prefer dry climates, so they should not be placed in humid places.

7. Water the plant with enough water to moisten the soil for up to a week after replanting. After the soil has completely dried, you can water more thoroughly.


If you’re seeing black spots on the stem, you’ll need to do a little surgery to save your plant. This is much easier than it sounds! Just cut off the top of your plant, trim away any black spots, give the cutting three to five days to dry out, then propagate it in new soil.

Make sure thesoil is well-drained, this will make the succulent grow better. Plant it in a pot with drainage holes, so that between each irrigation, the soil dries out.

As an added bonus, when you cut the rotting succulent plant or a rotting cactus, you can put cinnamon powder on the wound to heal it and prevent fungi from damaging your recovering succulent plants.

Underwatering Succulents

Unfortunately the signals you receive from your plants for under watering are similar to the signals you receive when you overwater plants.

Under watering and overwatering plants many times reach the same outcome – sick or dead plants. 

With most plants it is better to slightly under water than to overwater. When plants are under watered, they can usually recover within a few hours after receiving water.

If they are overwatered, this can cause roots to rot, and the recovery process will take much longer. 

If the plant leaves are wilting and still soft, they will likely recover after watering. 

If the plant leaves are crunchy, they will not recover after watering (this is past the point of recovery). 

Wilting is a sign of both under watering and overwatering your plants. In the case of under watering the plant, when you feel the leaves you will notice they are crisp not limp.

Wilting in this case is a symptom of a lack of water passing through the cells of a plant. Plants have pores on the surface of leaves called stoma.

They allow air to enter plants. When plants do not have enough water they close their stoma to stop evaporation and this leads to wilting. Remember plants also wilt because of other reasons including overwatering, too much sun, being root bound, too much fertilizer, or some diseases.

A slowdown in growth is a sign a plant is not receiving enough water.

This can be a temporary or permanent situation. If the plant experiences a temporary decrease in water supply, the growth may just slow for a short period.

If the challenge is more permanent you may see new leaf growth being smaller than normal.

The only sure-fire way to determine if you are over or under-watering is to routinely check your soil moisture. You do this, by sticking your finger 1-2″ down into the surrounding soil. If the soil is moist than let it be. Check again tomorrow.

If the soil is dry, then it’s time to water. Water deeply and aim all water at the roots, avoiding getting a lot of water on leaves and blooms. 

If your plant’s upper leaves are starting to wrinkle and get dry and crispy, then it’s probably time to give your succulents a little more water.

How to save an under-water succulent

For the most part, it’s much easier to revive an under-watered succulent than an over-watered one.

If yours are just starting to wrinkle, they’ll probably perk up pretty quickly after one or two watering cycles. However, if they’ve almost completely shriveled up, I’m sorry to tell you that they’re probably too far gone to recover.

What you can do is water your succulent lets say today and wait 24 hours to do it again. Do this process for a week or so. 

Then you can proceed to water as normal. When you notice the soil i dry. 

Frequient Ask Questions

Can an overwaterered succulent be saved?

If you read the article you will know the answer if not here it is.

Yes. Majority of the time an overwatered plant do bounce back with proper care and treatment. And even if the plant has succumbed to rot, some parts of it can still be saved. A leaf or a small stem can be saved and propagated to start a new plant.

How much of the plant you can save depends on the extent of the damage to the plant. An overwatered plant in the early stages will be easier to save than a plant that is already rotting from the root up.

What does an overwatered succulent look like?

How do you know if your succulent is overwatered? Usually there are telltale signs that would tell you clearly whether a succulent is being overwatered or underwatered. An overwatered plant will have mushy leaves that feel soft and squishy.

The color of the leaves would appear lighter than a healthy plant, or turn translucent in color. A lot of times an overwatered succulent would drop leaves easily even when lightly touched. The bottom leaves are usually the ones affected first.

What does a rotting succulent look like?

A rotting succulent will have black leaves starting from the bottom. The stems would appear either black or brown, and mushy.

These are signs that the plant is rotting from the roots up due to overwatering. If left on its own, the plant will continue to rot and you will be left with a plant that has dissolved and turned into a mushy mess.

How to save an overwatered succulent?

The full answer is up there but here’s the basic.

The earlier you intervene, the greater the chance that you can save your plant. The more the plant is overwatered, the more likely it is to succumb to rot. 

Get that plant out of that soil and cut all rotting.

Do succulent leaves grow back?

Yes. If you lost a lot of leaves from overwatering, the plant will eventually recover as long as it is not rotting. When given a chance to dry out, you will soon notice new growth or tiny leaves along the stems.

How to avoid overwatering succulent?

How you water your succulents that are outdoors will differ from how you water plants that are kept indoors. Outdoor plants usually receive more sunlight and tend to dry out faster.

Indoor plants are more protected from the elements and therefore do not dry out as fast and do not need to be watered as much.

A good tip is to always check the soil. And remember that some succulents need more water than others.

Watering also has a lot to do with the time of the year. In the summer, plants will need more water because of the heat and sun.

During winter the plant does not need to be watered as much. 

What soil should I use for my succulent?

The type of soil you use goes hand in hand with proper watering techniques.

Succulents need a well draining potting mix. They do not like to sit in wet soil too long. They generally like a good drink of water, and then have some time to dry out.

A well-draining soil mix goes a long way to keep from overwatering succulents.

Use a commercial cactus and succulent potting soil mix or make your own, combining equal parts of an organic element such as compost or peat, coarse horticultural-grade sand, and a gritty element such as horticultural pumice, perlite or lava fines.

To help the potting mix dry out more quickly, give succulents a pot they can just comfortably fit in plus 1 inch of extra space. Repot them yearly as they grow into just the next pot size.

Is it worth it saving my succulent?

If the succulent is not completely rotten. And you have time to operate on it. It is worth it

You will be surprised by the resistance of your succulent. And even if you feel like it’s not worth it, I suggest you give it a try.

Since this will give you more experience for the next one. Besides, who knows, a miracle can happen.

What to do with a dead succulent?

If your succulent died, you have two options.

1. If you make organic fertilizer you can put it to dry and it will serve you. Otherwise the most obvious.

2.Throw away.


Succulent plants are one of the easiest plant to care for. Since they do not require too much attention, however, it is necessary to be precise with them, because otherwise, you would be causing their rapid deterioration or in the worst case, their death.

To take care of a succulent, you do not need to be an expert, but you do need to be very observant since the same plant emits signs that can tell you how good or bad it is and what it needs.

Those who are not experts in gardening may think that when they see the withered leaves, surely my plant is dying.

However, you must remember that like the rest of the plants, in the growth process of the succulents, the old leaves fall off and new leaves are given way.

But it can still happen that the leaves of the plant, the lower one, fall off. You should not worry since it is normal.

Among the vital care for a succulent are irrigation, a good substrate and sunlight, however, irrigation is the one that becomes a constant problem since, unlike other plants, it must be abundant, but not constant.

When there is a lack of it, the leaves will again indicate that something is wrong. 

In this case the upper leaves of the plant are wrinkled or dried. A quick solution might be to water your succulent with more water. Although if the plant has dried too much, you will not be able to revive it.

The water that your succulent should receive is vital, but we must not forget that it is a different plant from the rest, since excess water could make your plant sick or suffocate the roots and kill it.

If your plant has received excess water, check if it has good drainage, in order to absorb water better and faster. It may be necessary to change the earth. Until the soil and substrate are dry, don’t water again.

An overwatered succulent is not doomed–yet. Don’t lose hope. I have saved a few of my plants from the brink of death this way. Succulents are such resilient plants you will be surprised how much you can save even from a dying plant.

So I encourage you to continue on with your succulents. And remember if your succulent and died do not try with experience and perseverance, you will be a master in this art.

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