Black Spots on Succulents: The Ultimate Guide To This Common Problem

Black Spots on Succulents: The Ultimate Guide to This Common Problem

Share with your friends!

Have you recently noticed Black Spots on your Succulents? Probably you are wondering the reasons why this is happening and what can you do to get rid of them to help your succulents get in better shape.

If you are looking for answers to this problem, then you’ll find this guide very in-depth,  informative, and helpful. Everything you need to know about it: identification, reasons, cure, and how to prevent them.

Black Spots On Succulents: 6 Reasons Why
Image Credit @whistlingwhisperingwhisper

Black spots on succulents are a widespread disease, and by following a simple screening you’ll be able to identify them early, give your plants the proper treatment, and ultimately save their life!

So let’s get started!

Featured Image Credit @v.ink_designs

Six Causes for Black Spots on Succulents

Generally speaking, succulents are quite easy to grow and care for, given the fact that they are hardy plants. That being said, likewise all the other plants, they are subjects to various pests and diseases.

Black spots on succulents are mainly caused by 6 reasons.

  • Pests
  • Fungus, Rot & Water  Warts
  • Sunburn
  • Frost
  • Overwatering
  • Trauma

Before moving to each one of these reasons, here is a rule of thumb: If the black spots are dry, it’s most likely caused by sunburn. You can remove the individual leaves and keep your plants inside. They’ll still need sunlight, but make sure that they’re not getting too exposed.

If the black spots are soft and mushy, it’s probably from over-watering. You can remove the leaves with spots on them and then repot the plant in the fast-draining soil mix for succulents.

When you see black spots on the leaves you need to act quickly to prevent the spreading of them on the whole plant.

How to prevent Black Spots on Succulents

Reason #1: Pests

Black spots on succulents could be a sign of large or small pest infestation. A variety of pests, from tiny aphids to big snails, slugs, grasshoppers, and caterpillars feed on succulents, as well as larger animals. These last ones, like birds, mice, possums, deer, or kangaroos take big chunks, whereas small insects and bugs will only make tiny marks on the leaves and stalk, causing the black spots on your succulents.

Unfortunately, once a succulent leaf is damaged or scarred, the only way to hide the spot is to remove the leaves with spots.

Aphids and mealybugs secrete a sticky fluid that sticks to the plant, making it look worse and they like to hide underneath the new and soft leaves, preventing them to grow and ultimately causing them to die.

Ants can be harmful too: they thrive on the sticky sap aphids and mealybugs make. Ants spread and ‘farm’ these pests as they produce a sugary honeydew which ants collect for their own benefit.

They tend to protect aphids and mealybugs from predators such as parasitic wasps or ladybugs.

Slugs and snails will poke little holes into succulents leaves that will then heal into brown or black spots. Because they hide under pots and rocks and they only come out at night, it’s quite hard to spot and catch them.

Cure for Pests

Let’s take a look at how the most common tiny pests can damage your plants and how to get rid of the infestation which is causing unattractive black spots on your succulents.


Aphids cause black spots on succulentsAphids reproduce very quickly. That means you have to act fast to save your succulent from being devoured by these tiny pests.

It’s good to know that you can easily get rid of aphids by using pyrethrum based sprays. You can easily spot them by looking at their color: they are usually green, black, brown, and sometimes orange.

Solution: if you are dealing with a small colony, it’s easy to kill them with a toothpick and wash off the plant. It’s a good practice to keep the infected plants separate from the others, to prevent your whole garden to get infected.

On the other hand, when dealing with a larger infestation, it’s essential to use pesticides. However, keep in mind that pesticides can kill lots of beneficial insects and pollinators too, so it’s better to use them as a last resort. That’s why it’s best to use the pesticide at night when the good insects aren’t flying.

You can treat black spots on succulents with Neem Oil Spray, natural cold-pressed oil from the seeds of the Neem tree, although isn’t that effective as many aphids can survive it quite easily.

Causes for black spots on succulents

Credit Image @addytude


mealybugs cause black spots on succulentsBlack spots on your succulents can also be caused by Mealybugs. Getting rid of them can be quite challenging since these pests have a wooly protective cover making them resistant to common pesticides.

They have an amazing ability to hide in the unexpected and narrowest places like between stem and leaves, nested in dried up leaves, under pots, tables.

They can even hide in debris around the plant and lay their eggs (up to 600) out of sight but close to the plants so when the little nymphs hatch, they don’t have far to crawl.

This is why detecting them early and isolating them is the best practice. It’s also important to keep clean not only the pots but also the whole area around them.

Solution: if you happen to find a few bugs, it’s easy to squash them with a toothpick. Next, pull out the infected leaves and thoroughly check around the plant to see if there are any bugs left.

Once you have detected and isolated the infected plant, it’s crucial to keep an eye on it for several weeks, just to make sure there aren’t any other outbreaks.

Another possible scenario occurs with a large mealybugs infestation: in this case, it’s necessary to spray the plants with a 70% rubbing alcohol or isopropyl solution with multiple applications. To completely get rid of these tiny pests it’s necessary to kill and wash off every single one.


Ants cause black spots on succulentsAnts can be an indirect reason why aphids and mealybugs are appearing, causing black spots on your succulents. The reason why ants spread and ‘farm’ these pests is to collect their sugary honeydew. Ants also protect mealybugs and aphids from predators such as parasitic wasps or ladybugs.

Removing ants is not an easy task, giving their numerosity and efficiency. Usually, the common pesticide only targets the workers, whereas killing the queen, who lays millions of eggs in the ground can definitely be much harder.

Solution: you want to make sure to get rid of the queen one possible way is with the borax and sugar recipe, although is not the most effective method. The best way is to keep the ground clean and spray any ants with a pyrethrum based solution.

Slugs and Snails

snails cause black spots on succulentsYou will also notice black spots on your succulents after slugs and snails have munched on the tender parts of the plant, causing holes.

Eventually, the plant will start healing itself, leaving behind brown or black spots, unfortunately.

Solution: One of the best (and green) ways to get rid of them is to set up a beer trap: they will find it, drink it, and ultimately die.

Reason #2: Fungus, Rot & Water Warts

Black spots on succulents could also be caused by a fungus infection, rot & warts from over-watering. When this happens, usually you’ll notice round black spots on your plant, especially in a humid climate.

Solution: If you live in a high humidity area you should only water your plants once a week to prevent shriveled leaves. In case you wonder, spraying the leaves with water doesn’t do any good because succulents are unable to absorb water that way.

You also want to make sure to use a succulent potting mix or any other mix that drains well. Heavy potting mix that holds on to water will only make the infection worse.

There you go, everything you need to know about black and brown spots on succulents! Hope this article helped your research on this matter and answered all your questions, but feel free to leave a comment or share your knowledge on this topicin the section below.

Share with your friends!

2 thoughts on “Black Spots on Succulents: The Ultimate Guide to This Common Problem”

  1. Hi, thank you for the video, it is quite informative. However, I wonder if you know why my plan has small black dots, like small moles and the leaves are falling but they look healthy.

    1. Hi Susana, usually falling leaves are a sign of overwatering, even when looking healthy and the small black dots you see could be an early sign of that. When watering your plant I suggest trying the ‘ soak and dry method’: you want to water the soil until it is completely soaked and wait until it’s totally dried out before watering again (this may depend on your location and container). It’s also important to keep the succulents in well-draining soil in a pot with a drainage hole to avoid roots rot.

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published.