Why is my succulent dying? Here's why – and 3 ways to revive your plant

This is why your succulent may be dying – and how to overcome the problems – for plants that look good for longer

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Succulents are admired for their air-purifying qualities, their good looks – and above all – their convenience. These plants are easy to grow and (supposedly) even easier to care for – so why is your succulent dying? 

According to experts, there are three main reasons your succulents may die: overwatering, poor lighting conditions, and high temperatures. Therefore, knowing how to care for succulents properly is key. Here's what you need to know – for plants that will stay green throughout the seasons. 

Why is my succulent dying? 3 problems to watch out for

Cacti in a bedroom

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The secret to success involves regulating temperature, lighting, and knowing when to water succulents. Here's what the experts want you to know. 

1. High temperatures

Gardening expert Richa Kedia from Simplify Plants warns that high temperatures may be causing your succulents to die. Therefore, you may need to be mindful of your plant's placement, especially if you live in an arid and warm-climate region.

'To save a dying succulent, you can correct the watering and move them to a spot that gets 3-4 hours of direct sunlight. If you live in a warm climate, keep them in a room where you use air conditioning,' Richa says. 'After moving my succulents from my living room (which can get quite hot during summer) to my home office (where I frequently use air-conditioning), the plants [were] much better.'

2. Overwatering

Overwatering is one of the most common reasons why your plant may not look happy, such as your succulent turning yellow. This is especially the case in cooler months when the problem is less likely to be overheating – so if you're wondering how to care for succulents in winter, it's important to take note.

'When it comes to watering, you generally only need to water succulents once every 1-2 weeks because they are drought-resistant plants, says garden expert Jeremy Yamaguchi from Lawn Love. 'You should only water your succulents when their soil is completely dried out to ensure that you aren't overwatering – which is much more common than underwatering.'

In spring and summer, your succulents will grow the most, so they need more water in these seasons. However, they are dormant in winter and will only need water every couple of weeks.

Cacti in a bedroom

(Image credit: Future)

3. Lighting 

Incorrect lighting is another reason why your succulents may be dying. Richa recommends a ratio of 2-4 hours of direct sunlight and 4-6 hours of indirect light for healthy succulent growth. 

'If you live in [a particularly sunny area], where the succulents might get intense sun at noon, then keeping them in the east-facing window for the morning sun would be an ideal choice,' the expert suggests. 

How do you save a dying succulent?

It is possible to save a dying succulent – but you need to ensure the plant receives the correct light and water levels quickly. 

'To save a slightly overwatered succulent, you need to move them away from intense sun and keep them in an east-facing window where they get mild morning sun. Make sure the area is dry and well-ventilated,' Richa explains. 

However, if your overwatered succulent is already wilting, you should re-pot the plant to support its new life. The expert suggests removing any excess soil and letting the roots air-dry. After 2-3 days, you can re-pot the plant in the fresh potting mix – but refrain from watering them for the next 5-7 days.

plants to help you sleep

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Can you revive a dying succulent?

While it is possible to save a dying succulent with the method above, it may be hard to revive a plant that is about to die completely. If this is the case, propagating the leftover healthy leaves is the only choice. 

The process begins with knowing how to take plant cuttings. Then you should lay the healthy leaves over a well-drained soil and mist them when the ground gets dry. 'Within a few weeks, the leaves should have healthy roots coming out,' Richa says. 

How do I know if my succulent is overwatered?

H&G's gardening expert Rachel Crow warns that the leaves will discolor when your succulent is overwatered. 'The leaves may appear more yellow, and they will become softer and more translucent. They may also appear to droop under their weight compared to those that have received the correct water and lighting levels.'

Megan Slack
Head of Celebrity Style News

Megan is the Head of Celebrity Style News at Homes & Gardens. She first joined Future Plc as a News Writer across their interiors titles, including Livingetc and Real Homes, before becoming H&G's News Editor in April 2022. She now leads the Celebrity/ News team. Before joining Future, Megan worked as a News Explainer at The Telegraph, following her MA in International Journalism at the University of Leeds. During her BA in English Literature and Creative Writing, she gained writing experience in the US while studying in New York. Megan also focused on travel writing during her time living in Paris, where she produced content for a French travel site. She currently lives in London with her antique typewriter and an expansive collection of houseplants.