Troubleshooting Yellowing Leaves on Your Succulent Plants

Common Causes of Yellowing Leaves

Common causes of yellowing leaves

As a succulent lover, it can be disheartening to see your favorite plants struggling. One issue that may arise is yellowing leaves. But what causes the leaves on your succulents to turn yellow, and how can you fix it? Here are some common causes of yellowing leaves and how to troubleshoot the problem.

Overwatering can cause yellowing leaves

Overwatering Causes Yellowing Leaves

One of the main reasons for yellowing leaves on succulents is overwatering. Succulent plants have adapted to store water in their leaves and stems, so they don’t require frequent watering like other plants. If you water your succulents too often, the roots can become waterlogged and rot, leading to a lack of oxygen and yellowing leaves. To fix the problem, allow the soil to dry out completely before watering again and make sure the pot has proper drainage.

Underwatering Can Also Cause Yellowing Leaves

On the other hand, yellowing leaves can also be a sign of underwatering. If your succulent isn’t getting enough water, its leaves may turn yellow and wilt. To fix the problem, make sure to water your succulent regularly and keep an eye on the soil moisture.

Direct Sunlight

Too much direct sunlight can also cause yellowing leaves on succulents. Succulents need plenty of bright, indirect light to thrive, but prolonged exposure to direct sunlight can cause their leaves to turn yellow and even burn. To fix the problem, move your succulent to a location with bright, indirect light or provide it with some shade during the hottest hours of the day.

Fertilizer Burn

Overfertilizing your succulent can also cause yellowing leaves. Succulents are sensitive to excess nutrients and can suffer from fertilizer burn if they receive too much. To fix the problem, flush the soil with water to remove excess fertilizers and reduce the frequency of fertilizing.

In conclusion, yellowing leaves on your succulent plants can be caused by a variety of factors including overwatering, underwatering, direct sunlight, and fertilizer burn. By identifying the root cause of the problem and taking appropriate action, you can help your succulent recover and continue to thrive.

Lay off the water!!

Mild Yellowing on the Tips of Lower Leaves

Succulents turning yellow, soft, and mushy are usually an indication that they are getting too much water. They may have even been overwatered at the store before you even brought them home.

If you notice that the leaves of your succulent are starting to turn yellow, stop watering it. See if it will recover on its own.

The leaves that have yellowed will probably begin to start shriveling and eventually dry out as the plant uses that leaf for energy.

Lower Leaves are Fully Yellow and/or Translucent

If you see that there are many yellow leaves or even some leaves that have turned translucent, you’ll need to do more than just stop watering it for a while.

Translucent leaves mean that the cells have taken in too much water and are starting to burst. In this case, change the soil to a much more gritty mix. You need to make sure that the soil dries out faster than it did in its old soil.

Things Are Getting Dark

After leaves turn yellow, soft, mushy, and translucent, they will turn shades of brown and then black if the overwatering issue isn’t corrected.

If you have rotten leaves, there’s a good possibility that you also have some stem or root rot. Cut away any affected parts of the stem or roots with a sterile knife and make sure to remove anything that is discolored.

More signs that you’ve got an overwatered succulent:

Leaves falling off when touched

Perfectly healthy succulents don’t just drop leaves for no good reason.

When the cells inside of your succulent’s leaves are about to start bursting, the leaves will swell and the node where they are attached to the stem gets weaker so you may notice that they seem to fall off easily when touched.

Of course, this doesn’t always mean that you have an overwatered succulent because some leaves like Burro’s Tail (sedum morganianum) always pop off easily.

Leaves that fall off the stem won’t grow back as a single leaf, but might form an entirely new baby plant from that node over the next few weeks.

Just stop watering and wait and see what happens.

It stops growing

If your succulent is sitting in soggy soil because the pot doesn’t have a drainage hole, the soil is too dense/organic or it is just sitting in a saucerful of water, the roots may already be rotting and therefore, no longer able to take up any water. Roots need oxygen to survive and drowning them doesn’t help.

Solutions and preventing yellowing succulent leaves:

New, grittier soil (See my guide to succulent soil.)

Give your succulent better ventilation – open some windows, turn on a fan

Pots need to have drainage holes (No exceptions!)

Unglazed terracotta pots dry out faster than glazed pots or plastic

Aerate your soil periodically by poking it with a chopstick

Wait at least a week or more to water your succulents after you re-pot them


The soil will dry out long before your succulent shows signs of thirst and needs watering. Always watering right when the soil dries out doesn’t give your succulent a chance to use the water stored in its fleshy leaves.

Dehydrating a succulent to the point of no return takes a really really long time. They are meant to survive during long periods without water.

Moisture content in the air affects how quickly your soil dries out so if you live in a humid area, your soil needs to be amended heavily with an organic substrate.

Water sparingly when succulents are dormant.

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Learn how to propagate succulents and share them with your friends

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Succulent FAQ

Why do succulent leaves turn yellow?

Succulent leaves may turn yellow due to a variety of reasons such as over watering, under watering, lack of light, pest infestation, or disease.

What should I do if my succulent leaves are turning yellow?

If your succulent leaves are turning yellow, you should first check the watering schedule and ensure that you are not over or under watering the plant. You should also check for signs of pest infestation or disease. If the problem persists, it may be best to consult a professional or seek advice from a gardening expert.

Can yellow leaves on a succulent be a sign of over watering?

Yes, yellow leaves on a succulent can be a sign of over watering. Over watering can lead to root rot, which can cause the leaves to turn yellow and fall off.

Is it normal for succulent leaves to turn yellow and fall off?

It is not uncommon for succulent leaves to turn yellow and fall off, especially as the plant grows and matures. However, if a large number of leaves are turning yellow and falling off, it may be a sign of a problem such as over watering or pest infestation.

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