Yellowing Leaves on Succulents: A Comprehensive Guide to Troubleshooting

Oh no! Your beloved succulent has yellowing leaves, and you’re starting to panic. Don’t worry, fellow plant lover! This comprehensive guide will help you diagnose the problem and get your succulent back to its vibrant, healthy self. But first, let’s start with the basics.

Causes of Yellowing Leaves on Succulents

There are several reasons why your succulent’s leaves might be turning yellow. Here are the most common culprits:


Overwatering is the number one cause of yellowing leaves in succulents. These plants are adapted to survive in dry conditions, so giving them too much water can lead to root rot and ultimately, yellowing leaves.

Yellowing leaves on succulents overwatering yellow


While succulents can tolerate drought, they still need some water to survive. Underwatering can cause the leaves to turn yellow and eventually shrivel up and fall off.

Yellowing leaves on succulents underwatering yellow

Nutrient deficiency

A lack of essential nutrients, such as nitrogen, phosphorus, and potassium, can cause yellowing leaves in succulents. These nutrients are vital for the plant’s overall health and growth. It could also be from a magnesium deficiency, in which case you can use Epsom salt to restore your succulent’s magnesium levels. Here’s a whole blog post about using Epsom salt to fertilize your succulents.


Too much direct sunlight can cause sunburn on succulent leaves, leading to yellowing and eventual browning.

Yellowing leaves on succulents sunburn yellow

Pests and diseases

Pests like mealybugs, aphids, and spider mites can cause yellowing leaves in succulents, as can fungal and bacterial infections.

Yellowing leaves on succulents pests yellow

Diagnosing the Cause of Yellowing Leaves

Examining the plant

The first step in diagnosing the problem is to take a close look at your succulent. Check for obvious signs of pests, sunburn, or other physical issues that might be causing the yellowing leaves.

Common causes of yellowing leaves

Considering environmental factors

Think about the conditions your succulent is growing in. Are you watering it too much or too little? Is it getting enough sunlight? Could the nutrients be depleted from the soil if it is in a pot? Addressing these factors can help you narrow down the cause of the yellowing leaves.

Solutions for Yellowing Leaves

Once you’ve identified the cause of the problem, it’s time to take action!

Adjusting watering practices

If you’re overwatering or underwatering your succulent, adjust your watering schedule accordingly. Succulents generally need to be watered every 2-3 weeks, but this can vary depending on the specific plant and its environment. Always wait for the succulent leaves to show signs of dehydration before watering it again. Succulents that are grown indoors won’t need to be watered as frequently as succulents that are grown outdoors.

Echeveria jc van keppel hybrid succulent plant care guide and identification card
This is the most recent picture i have of my echeveria ‘jc van keppel’ as of september 2020. It has transformed from a single rosette into what you see here. Currently treating it for mealy bugs. I just can’t seem to get ahead of them!

Providing proper nutrients

If your succulent is suffering from a nutrient deficiency, consider using a balanced, slow-release fertilizer. Be sure to follow the package instructions to avoid over-fertilization.

Fertilizer burn can cause yellowing leaves yellow

Managing sunlight exposure

If your succulent is getting too much sun, move it to a shadier spot or use a sheer curtain to filter the sunlight. Conversely, if your plant isn’t getting enough light, move it to a brighter location.

Dealing with pests and diseases

If pests or diseases are the cause of your succulent’s yellowing leaves, treat the issue with the appropriate insecticide or fungicide. Be sure to follow the product instructions for best results.

Yellowing leaves on succulent yellow

Preventive Measures to Keep Succulent Leaves Green and Healthy

To prevent yellowing leaves in the future, follow these tips:

  • Use well-draining soil
  • Water your succulent properly
  • Provide adequate sunlight
  • Monitor for pests and diseases regularly

Yellowing leaves on succulents can be a cause for concern, but with the right knowledge and care, you can nurse your plant back to health. By understanding the underlying causes and taking appropriate action, you’ll be well on your way to enjoying a lush, vibrant succulent garden. Happy growing!

Frequently Asked Questions

1. Can yellow leaves on succulents turn green again?

Unfortunately, once a succulent leaf has turned yellow, it cannot revert back to green. However, by addressing the underlying cause and providing proper care, new growth should be healthy and green.

2. How often should I water my succulents?

Generally, succulents should be watered every 2-3 weeks. However, this can vary depending on the specific plant, its environment, and the season. Always let the soil dry out completely between waterings.

How & When to Water Succulents So They Don’t Die (2023 Update)

How much water do succulents need

3. Can I use regular potting soil for my succulents?

It’s best to use a well-draining soil mix specifically formulated for succulents, as they require excellent drainage to prevent root rot. You can purchase a pre-made mix or create your own by combining equal parts potting soil, perlite or pumice, and coarse sand.

4. What’s the best way to get rid of pests on my succulents?

For minor infestations, you can manually remove pests with a cotton swab dipped in rubbing alcohol. For more severe cases, use an appropriate insecticide or miticide according to the product instructions. Always monitor your plants regularly for signs of pests to catch and treat issues early on.