How To Tell If You Have Overwatered Your Succulents

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Regarding caring for succulents, overwatering is something you will quickly learn you must not do. Succulents are happy-go plants, surviving even harsh conditions, but that does not mean overwatering them is okay.

Succulents’ native homes are typically arid areas that do not receive much rain and are well-adapted to these tough conditions. Their stems, leaves, and stems are adapted to store water.

Experimentation may be necessary to get watering succulents right. Sometimes, you may overwater your succulents, so how do you tell if you have overwatered your succulents? Also, what does an overwatered succulent look like, and how do you fix it?

Signs You Have Overwatered Your Succulents

how to tell if you have overwatered your succulents

Do you suspect you have overwatered your succulents and freaked out about the consequences? Before panicking, it would be best to confirm the situation first.

Therefore, here are the tell-tale signs of overwatered succulents.

1. Yellowing and Drooping Leaves

Yellowing succulent leaves can indicate different issues, such as lack of sunlight, lack of nutrients (nitrogen and iron), presence of pests (like spider mites and mealybugs), and underwatering. That’s not all; yellowing and drooping leaves can also signify overwatering.

Root rot caused by excessive watering causes the leaves to turn yellow and eventually droop. The roots of your succulents will not get oxygen if they are constantly wet or soggy, leading to root damage and leaf symptoms.

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2. Edema

edema in succulents

Another sign of an overwatered succulent is edema, but what does that mean exactly? Edema typically appears as tiny, swollen, blister-like protrusions on the surface of the leaves or stems with a puckered or stretched appearance. These blisters can be yellow, brown, or transparent and may vary in size.

Related Post: How to water succulents without drainage

You are more likely to see edema in succulents when overwatered or exposed to high humidity. Edema is a response to the plant’s cells taking in more water than they can transpire or lose at the same rate causing the cells to become overloaded and swell.

3. Soft, Mushy Stems

Overwater your succulents and the stems will take in too much water causing the stem tissues to soften and become mushy. Also, the leaves of your succulents can turn mushy if you overwater.

4. Root Rot

When the roots of your succulents are constantly submerged in water, it creates a favorable environment for anaerobic bacteria and fungi to thrive, attacking the roots and causing them to rot.

Overwatering primarily causes root rot, leading to waterlogged soil and depriving the roots of necessary oxygen.

Succulents with root rot can display a range of symptoms, including wilting or drooping leaves, yellowing or browning leaves, soft and mushy roots, a foul odor coming from the soil, and eventual plant death.

Yes, rotting roots signify overwatered succulents, but how do you recognize them? They are usually dark and slimy and may fall apart when touched.

5. Lack of New Growth

Your succulents need nutrients to grow. Unfortunately, excess moisture hampers your plant’s ability to take in nutrients, keeping new leaves or shoots from coming out. Therefore, overwatering can stop growing or show stunted growth.

6. Pest Infestation

Pests love a damp environment and can cause extensive damage to already weakened plants. Overwatered succulents tick both boxes, hence vulnerable to pests like Fungus Gnats, Mealybugs, Scale Insects, and Aphids. Pests can damage the succulents’ leaves, stems, and impair their overall health.

7. Foul Smell

If overwatering causes the roots of your succulents to rot, it can cause a foul smell. The smell indicates the presence of anaerobic bacteria or fungi that thrive in waterlogged conditions.

These microorganisms disintegrate organic matter living inside the soil and release unpleasant-smelling compounds as byproducts.

8. Growth of Mold

Excess moisture created by overwatering succulents promotes the growth of mold by providing the perfect environment for mold spores’ germination and growth. Yes, mold in succulents isn’t ideal, but how do you know your succulents are moldy?

Mold growth in succulents can manifest as fuzzy or powdery white, gray, green, or black patches on the soil surface or the plant itself. The mold may appear fluffy, slimy, or dusty and can spread quickly if not addressed.

What Does An Overwatered Succulent Look Like?

What Does An Overwatered Succulent Look Like?

An overwatered succulent exhibits various visual signs that can help identify the issue. Here’s a description of what an overwatered succulent may look like:

a) Soft, Mushy Leaves

When you touch the leaves of an overwatered succulent, you may notice that they are soft and mushy. The leaves may lose their firmness and become limp or squishy. Moreover, you may see signs of discoloration.

For instance, they can turn yellow and swollen. You may also find them large, swollen, and translucent with a light brown or yellow tinge but see-through.

Leaf discoloration results from the roots being deprived of oxygen due to waterlogged soil, leading to nutrient deficiencies and impaired photosynthesis.

b) Leaf Drop

 You are likely overwatering your succulents when the leaves start dropping off, leaving bare stems or a crown of healthy leaves at the top. This happens when too much water makes the plant waterlogged and eventually rot, resulting in leaves dropping off the plant.

c) Wilting or Drooping

Wilting is often a symptom of underwatering, but overwatered succulents can also exhibit this symptom. The excess moisture in the soil can cause the roots to suffocate and rot, leading to wilting or drooping of the entire plant or specific branches.

d) Leaves Turn Black

If you keep overwatering your succulents, the leaves will eventually turn black. This will begin from the plant’s center and then spread to the rest of the leaves.

How Do You Fix Overwatered Succulents?

How Do You Fix Overwatered Succulents?

So, you have monitored and assessed your succulents and ascertained that they are overwatered. What’s next? How do you help your plants recover and avoid further damage?

Fixing overwatered succulents involves several steps. These are:

1) Assess The Damage

Before acting, it is crucial to know the extent of the issue. In that case, carefully examine your succulents and take note of the extent of the overwatering damage.

Look for signs of root rot, such as mushy or discolored roots, and observe the condition of the leaves and stems.

2) Stop Watering

You cannot keep watering overwatered succulents, so stop watering your plants immediately to avoid worsening the problem. This is fundamental, especially since succulents require well-draining soil and prefer to dry out between waterings.

Withholding water allows the plant to start drying out and prevents your plants from continuing to absorb water.

Resume watering only once the soil is entirely dry. However, the exact duration of the watering pause will depend on factors such as the severity of overwatering, the type of succulent, and environmental conditions.

3) Remove The Plant From The Soil

how to fix overwatered succulent

You cannot let your succulents keep sitting inside their pots because the soil is already saturated hence will only exacerbate the problem. Therefore, gently remove the succulent from its pot, then inspect the roots. Consider gently shaking off any excess moisture if the soil is excessively wet.

4) Trim Away Rotting Roots

With the plants out of their pots, carefully trim any mushy or rotting roots using clean and sharp scissors or pruning shears, cutting until you reach healthy, firm tissue. Additionally, remove any blackened or unhealthy parts of the roots.

5) Let The Roots Dry

The next step is to let the roots dry out for a day or two since it promotes the healing and recovery of the succulent. However, you must do this correctly. In that case, place the plant in a well-ventilated area away from direct sunlight to avoid further stress.

6) Repot In Well-Draining Soil

So you have removed damaged roots and dried the healthy ones. What’s next? Prepare a new pot with fresh, well-draining soil formulated explicitly for succulents or cacti. Choose a pot with drainage holes to ensure excess water can escape.

Gently put your succulents inside new pots, ensuring you spread out the roots and that they are in contact with the soil.

7) Wait Before Watering

After repotting, wait a few days before watering the succulent to let the roots adjust and minimize the risk of overwatering. Resume watering after the soil is fully dry.

8)Adjust the Watering Routine

Going forward, adjust your watering routine to prevent overwatering. Succulents prefer infrequent but deep watering. Water the plant until you see excess water flowing out of the container’s drainage holes, and then ensure the succulent soil is entirely dry prior to resuming watering.

9) Provide Proper Light And Airflow

Place the succulent where it will receive bright but indirect sunlight. Adequate light helps the plant recover and grow. Additionally, ensure good air circulation around the plant to prevent moisture buildup.

10) Monitor And Adjust Care Practices

Closely monitor your succulents and their recovery. Observe new growth, leaf condition, and overall health. Adjust your care routine as needed, including watering frequency and light exposure, based on the specific needs of your succulent species.


Before watering your succulents, stick your finger inside the soil to ensure it’s completely dry. This will help prevent overwatering the plants. Also, remember that overwatering succulents is worse than underwatering.

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