Effective Methods for Treating and Preventing Succulent Root Rot


Succulents are known for their ability to thrive in arid conditions, but even they can fall victim to a common condition called root rot. This can be a particularly devastating issue for these plants, as their roots are key to their ability to take up water and nutrients. If left untreated, root rot can quickly lead to the death of the plant.

Root rot is typically caused by excessive moisture, particularly when the soil does not have proper drainage. Overwatering is a common mistake when caring for succulents, as these plants do not require as much water as other types of houseplants. When the soil becomes waterlogged, it can lead to the roots becoming mushy and brown, making it difficult for the plant to uptake water effectively.

If you suspect that your succulent has root rot, there are a few steps you can take to salvage the plant. The first is to carefully remove the plant from its pot and examine the roots. Healthy roots should be firm and white, so if you see dark or mushy roots, it’s a clear sign of root rot. Trim away any affected roots and allow the plant to dry out for a few days. Once the roots have dried, you can repot the plant using fresh, well-draining soil.

To prevent root rot from occurring in the first place, there are a few key considerations to keep in mind. When planting your succulents, be sure to use a well-draining soil mix and a pot with drainage holes. It’s also important to avoid overwatering your succulents – a good rule of thumb is to only water when the top inch of soil feels dry. Additionally, keep an eye on the weather and adjust your watering schedule as needed. During cooler months or periods of high humidity, succulents may need less frequent watering.

If you’re having trouble with root rot despite following these preventative measures, there are a few natural techniques you can try. One effective method is using a sulfur-based fungicide. This can help kill off any fungal pathogens that may be causing the root rot. Another technique is bottom watering, which involves placing the pot in a tray of water and allowing the soil to soak up moisture from the bottom. This helps prevent the soil from becoming waterlogged while still providing the plant with the water it needs.

By checking your succulents regularly for signs of root rot and taking steps to prevent and treat the condition, you can help ensure that your plants stay healthy and thriving. Remember, a little extra care can go a long way in keeping your succulents looking their best!


When it comes to succulents, one common problem that every plant enthusiast might encounter is succulent root rot. This fungal or bacterial infection generally occurs due to over-watering, improper drainage, or planting in soggy soil. If you notice that your succulent’s roots are brown, mushy, and falling off, it’s a good indication that the plant has root rot.

But why is root rot such a big issue for succulents? Well, succulents are known for their ability to store water in their leaves, stems, and roots. This enables them to survive in arid conditions. However, when they are over-watered or planted in moist soil, the excess water can’t evaporate fast enough, creating a perfect environment for fungal and bacterial growth.

So, how can you treat and prevent succulent root rot? We’ve got some tips for you:

1. Identify the issue: To effectively address root rot, you must first identify that it is the problem. Look for wilted or yellowing leaves, mushy roots, or a foul smell coming from the soil. These are common indicators of root rot.
2. Unroot and save: If you notice your succulent has root rot, gently remove it from the pot and inspect the roots. If they are brown and mushy, cut off the infected parts with a clean and sterilized tool. Allow the plant to dry for a few days before replanting it in well-draining soil.
3. Prevent further damage: To prevent succulent root rot, it’s important to ensure that your plant is properly potted in well-draining soil. Avoid overwatering and allow the soil to dry out completely between watering sessions. Succulents are more tolerant of underwatering than overwatering, so it’s better to err on the dry side.
4. Use the ‘soaking technique’: In case your succulent is severely affected by root rot, you can try the soaking technique as a last resort. Fill a container with a fungicide or diluted sulfur solution and soak the roots for 15 minutes. This can help kill the fungal or bacterial infection.
5. Know the signs of success: After treating root rot, your succulent should start showing signs of recovery in about a week or so. New, healthy roots will begin to grow, and the plant will look better overall.

Remember, prevention is always better than cure. By implementing these simple tips and techniques, you can prevent succulent root rot and keep your plants thriving. Proper watering, adequate drainage, and well-draining soil are the keys to avoid this preventable issue.

How to Save Overwatered Succulents So They Don’t Die

If you’ve accidentally overwatered your succulents, don’t panic! There are steps you can take to save them and prevent further damage. Here are some tips:

  1. Remove the excess water: Start by removing the excess water from the pot. Carefully tilt the pot and let the water drain away. You can also gently pat the soil with a paper towel to soak up any remaining moisture.
  2. Cuttings: In case the roots of your succulent have started rotting, you can salvage the healthy parts by taking cuttings. Use a clean, sharp knife or scissors to cut off the healthy stems or leaves. Make sure to cut above the rotting portion.
  3. Replant: Prepare a new pot with well-draining soil. You can use a mix of cactus soil and perlite or pumice for good drainage. Plant the cuttings in the new pot and gently press the soil around them to secure them in place.
  4. Treat the roots: If the root rot hasn’t progressed too far, you can still try to save your succulent by treating the roots. Carefully remove the plant from its pot and inspect the roots. Remove any rotten or mushy roots using a clean tool. If necessary, you can also rinse the remaining roots with water to remove any soil particles.
  5. Let it dry: After treating the roots, allow them to dry before repotting the succulent in fresh, well-draining soil. This will help prevent further infection and give the roots a chance to recover.
  6. Prevent overwatering: To prevent future problems, it’s important to learn how to properly water your succulents. Succulents thrive in dry conditions, so only water them when the soil is completely dry. Avoid excessive watering as it can lead to root rot.
  7. Trim off brown leaves: If your succulent has brown, mushy leaves, it’s best to trim them off. This will help prevent the spread of any infection to the healthy parts of the plant.
  8. Good drainage is key: Make sure your succulent pots have drainage holes to allow excess water to escape. It’s also a good idea to use a well-draining potting mix to avoid moisture retention.
  9. Don’t let water sit on the leaves: Water that sits on succulent leaves for too long can cause them to rot. When watering, avoid getting the leaves wet and make sure to pour the water directly onto the soil.
  10. Consider additional prevention methods: Dusting the leaves with a fungicide or using a soil acidifier can help prevent mold and bacteria growth. Additionally, allowing good air circulation around your succulents can reduce the chances of moisture-related issues.

By following these tips, you can save your overwatered succulents and help them thrive once again. Remember, prevention is always better than treatment, so be mindful of your watering habits to avoid excessive moisture and potential root rot.

Succulent Leaves Falling Off What to Do

If you’re having problems with your succulent leaves falling off, it’s important to identify the cause and take appropriate action to save your plant. Succulents typically have thick, fleshy leaves arranged in a rosette structure, which helps them retain water in arid conditions. However, there are several reasons why succulent leaves may start falling off.

One common cause of succulent leaf loss is overwatering. Succulents are adapted to survive in dry environments, so they don’t need to be watered as frequently as other plants. If you’ve been soaking your succulent’s soil or leaves are appearing black and rotting, it’s a sign of overwatering. In order to cure an overwatered succulent, you’ll need to stop watering it and let the soil dry out completely before watering again.

Another common cause of succulent leaf loss is root rot. If the roots of your succulent are infected and dying, they won’t be able to properly absorb water from the soil, leading to leaf loss. You can check for root rot by gently removing the plant from its pot and examining the roots. If they are soft, mushy, and have a foul odor, it’s a clear sign of root rot. To treat root rot, you’ll need to remove the affected roots and repot the plant in fresh, well-draining soil.

Succulent leaves may also fall off due to other considerations, such as poor drainage, improper watering, or temperature extremes. If your succulent is not growing in its ideal conditions, it may struggle to survive and shed leaves as a result. Therefore, it’s important to ensure your succulent is planted in well-draining soil, watered sparingly, and kept in a warm and sunny location.

If your succulent leaves are falling off, there are ways to try and save your plant. First, trim away any rotten or dying leaves above the healthy ones. This will help prevent the infection from spreading and allow the plant to focus its energy on new growth. Additionally, you can try using natural remedies such as sulphur powder or a diluted hydrogen peroxide solution to treat any fungal or bacterial infections that may be causing leaf loss.

In order to prevent succulent leaf loss in the first place, it’s important to provide your plant with the proper care. Make sure to water your succulent only when the soil is completely dry, avoid overwatering, and ensure it has good drainage. Furthermore, providing your succulent with the right amount of sunlight and avoiding extreme temperature fluctuations will help promote healthy growth and prevent leaf loss.

Overall, if you’re noticing succulent leaves falling off, it’s crucial to address the underlying issue and take appropriate actions to save your plant. By following the above tips and properly caring for your succulent, you can help prevent leaf loss and promote its overall survival.

✿ Read More About Cacti and Succulents.

Dr Heidi Parkes

By Dr Heidi Parkes

Senior Information Extension Officer QLD Dept of Agriculture & Fisheries.