An overwatered succulent is way harder to fix than an underwatered one. The sooner you catch it the better chance it’s got of pulling through. Here’s what to look out for with your little green friends.

Sickly Looking Leaves

If your succulents leaves start to look a little translucent and they take on a sickly yellow, brown or black shade then they’re overwatered. If you try and gently wiggle the leaves they’ll be fairly loose and wobbly and some might snap off entirely. You might notice that the leaves look wet sometimes which is the leaf “leaking” and they’ll start to feel mushy and squishy.

Common Signs of Overwatering in Succulents
Overwatered Succulent

This succulent is in bad shape. If you look below the yellowing leaves you can see a few black leaves in the soil.

Overwatered Succulent Leaves Progression
Leaves showing signs of overwatering

Droopy Stems/Leaves & Leaf Loss

The Titanopsis Calcarea (on the right side of the pot) is buried too deep. Usually, it’d be standing up nice and tall but overwatering has made it floppy. It’s also started going a sickly orangey/yellow colour close to the centre of the plant and if you look closely, you can see it’s starting to crack open along the exposed lighter areas of the leaves.

Succulents showing symptoms of overwatering
Wilted, droopy succulent

The rosette succulent is suffering from leaf loss on the oldest leaves. Even though there’s no sign of sickly leaves, there’s a couple of black on peeking out just above the bottom row of leaves. This one’s been planted too deep as well and because the bottom leaves are in contact with the soil they’re starting to break down close to the stem. It makes them very fragile and they fall off with the slightest touch.

Early Signs of an Overwatered Succulent

Succulent leaves starting to show signs of overwatering
Slight Discoloration from Overwatering

This succulent looks fairly healthy but a couple of the leaves are starting to take on a yellowish tinge. When you touch them they feel ever so slightly loose and when you squeeze them they’re not quite as firm as the healthier leaves.

Floppy Leaves on an Overwatered Succulent
Floppy leaves on an overwatered succulent

The outer two succulents seem to be doing ok when it comes to overwatering (but given their conditions they won’t be for long). The one in the centre, however, isn’t having such a great time. Despite the fact it’s pushing out some new growth from the middle, the outer leaves are laying against the soil. Floppy succulents aren’t happy succulents! Plus, because the leaves are touching the wet soil they’re going to start to rot which will cause even more problems.

Succulent Buried too Deep
Succulent that’s been buried too deep

The top section of the plant is wilting which can be a sign of both over and underwatering. But, if you look at the bottom clusters, they’re buried below the soil line which is a big no-no for succulents. They look quite different from the healthier part of the plant. They’ve lost that dry fuzzy look along with the markings and they’ve gone a greenish, yellowy-brown colour.

Other Ways to Identify Overwatering Issues

When you start to see signs of overwatering above ground, it means there are problems below ground. Catching issues before they even start can save you a lot of time and trouble.

  • Make sure your succulents leaves aren’t beneath the soil or resting on the soil.
  • Check the soil is an appropriate soil for your succulent. Something well draining, quick drying, light and airy.
  • Check the drainage holes aren’t blocked and water can run freely out of them.
  • Check that the pot is the right size. A small succulent in a large pot will stay wet for too long between waterings.
  • Check that the soil isn’t waterlogged after watering. It should be wet but not absolutely sopping wet.
  • Keep track of how frequently you water your succulent. It should be drying out quite a lot (often completely) between waterings and it shouldn’t take it months to do it.
  • Make sure your succulent isn’t in dormancy. During dormancy succulents don’t need much water as they’re not actively growing.
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