Overwatering is a common mistake when it comes to caring for succulents, and it can be detrimental to their health. If you’ve found yourself in this situation, don’t worry – there are steps you can take to save your overwatered succulents. In this article, we’ll explore how to save overwatered succulents and help them thrive once again.
Sub-Topics we have covered in this Article:
- Stages of Overwatering
- Signs of Overwatering in Most Common Species
- How To Save Overwatered Succulents (Easy Steps to Follow)
- How to Prevent Overwatering
Succulents are plants that have the structure to withstand long periods without water. At the same time, they are very sensitive to excessive watering.
The other question related to this topic is if overwatered succulents can survive?
They can, but it depends on the degree of damage and how quickly we react.
Although we know their needs, our succulents sometimes get too much water. It may be due to our carelessness, or perhaps we left the plants to someone to water while we were away, and they did not follow our instructions.
Sometimes it’s hard to tell whether your plant is overwatered or underwatered because the symptoms can be similar.
We will discuss the symptoms of overwatering, ways to save the plant, and preventive measures so that overwatering doesn’t happen at all.
Symptoms of overwatering succulents depend on the type of plant, as well as the degree. Some of the general signs are yellowing or translucent leaves, droopy leaves and stems, signs of rotting – black spots on leaves and stems, unpleasant smell, and watery, mushy consistency.
Stages of Overwatering
Signs often depend on the extent of overwatering. You can check the roots whenever you suspect your plant gets too much water.
You will notice overwatering within three days. Plants can show symptoms of overwatering such as dropping of leaves when touching them.
In this case, you can uproot them and let them dry out. After a few days, you can re-pot them in well-draining soil. A mix of equal parts of soil and pumice should work well, but you can add more pumice to improve drainage.
Water your plant when you see it’s thirsty. Some of the signs are wrinkled leaves. It’s hard to give general recommendations about watering frequency, depending on plant species, your climate, and whether a plant gets dormant.
This stage usually occurs after a week or more. You can notice leaves become yellow and mushy. Stem can become black, and if you dig for roots, you will see they begin to rot, showing the signs of infamous root rot.
Uproot them, like in the first stage, remove damaged parts of the roots, and leave them to dry out and form callous protective tissue. After that, you can plant them in dry soil. Avoid watering until you see new roots, after 2-3 weeks.
Lower leaves often become wrinkled and fall off. That is a normal process called resorption – a way plant gets nutrients until it grows new roots. You should only remove those leaves fully dry, as resorption will move to the next leaf.
In this phase, the entire plant rots. Unfortunately, there is no coming back and reviving your succulent at this stage. It is time to discard everything and get yourself a new plant.
Signs of Overwatering in Most Common Species
The leaves of Echeveria will become soft, yellow or brown, or even translucent. A plant can get a top-heavy appearance.
The Aloe vera plant looks wilted, and the leaves are brown or yellow and mushy. Aloe can become soft and deteriorate fast, as it’s prone to root rot.
Soft, translucent leaves and black spots on the leaves or stem can indicate overwatering. The leaves may also appear to be drooping or wilted.
Leaves are soft and squishy and often fall off when we touch them. Stem can also become soft, and a plant will turn off on one side.
String of Pearls
Leaves, or “pearls,” become watery, and the whole plant gets a wilted appearance and unpleasant, moldy smell.
How To Save Overwatered Succulents (Easy Steps to Follow)
Remove the plant from a pot
If you think your succulent might be a victim of overwatering, the first step is to remove it from a pot. Clean the roots and base of the plant from wet soil, careful not to damage them. Once you do that, you can wrap them in a newspaper or paper towel to absorb excessive moisture.
Check the roots
Once the plant is dry out, check the root system. Healthy roots should be firm, white to pale brown. If you notice dark brown or black roots, mushy and smelling moldy, it’s probably root rot, and you’ll need to remove all affected parts with a sharp sterilized blade.
Leave the plant to develop new roots
When your plant is clean from any damaged tissue, you should leave it in a dry, well-ventilated place to form callouses and start to develop new roots.
Plant in a well-drained soil
Prepare a new, sterilized pot with drainage holes, and fill it with a well-draining mix of soil and perlite (you can add a little more perlite than soil.) Place your plant, and wait to water it for a week or two. After that, you can establish a regular watering schedule.
Check for new growth
If your plant develops new leaves or buds, that’s a great sign. If it doesn’t but still looks healthy, you have nothing to worry about, as succulents are slow-growers.
How to Prevent Overwatering
Water your plants only when it’s thirsty
With succulents, it’s better to be on a slightly underwatered side. Let the soil dry out between waterings (they should be thorough), and learn what your specific plant looks like when it’s thirsty.
Use well-drained soil
You can use a pencil or stick to poke holes in the soil. That will improve transpiration and avoid soggy soil.
The succulent plant often has decorative moss or pumice covering the soil. Make sure to remove them, as they prevent transpiration and plant can’t get enough oxygen.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
What do succulents look like when overwatered?
Signs of overwatering depend on plant species and the stage of overwatering – some common symptoms include yellowing, browning, and translucent leaves. When we touch them, they are squishy instead of leathery and fall off easily. Sometimes, in later phases, they have black spots on leaves and stems. Stems are soft, and the plant often collapses.
Overwatered plants are prone to different kinds of fungal diseases and molds, as well as pest attacks.
How long does it take for plants to recover from overwatering?
It depends on damage overwatering already made. If the plant lost all its roots and needs to regrow them, it may take up to 6 weeks for us to notice signs of recovering, at least.
If some good roots are left, a plant can recover in two weeks.
How do you absorb water from an overwatered plant?
You can try to absorb excessive moisture if you don’t want or can’t repot your plant in fresh soil. As an absorbing material, use piled newspapers or paper towels (or even cloths), and place them beneath the pot. Perlite or vermiculite are also proven to absorb water. Some plant enthusiasts even use rice to absorb water although I haven’t tried this, that might also work.