Why Your Succulents Are Wilting | GroveGypsy

While succulents are rapidly growing in popularity, they are more challenging to care for than many people realize. They need proper care in order to thrive and avoid wilting. 

Succulents often wilt due to a variety of different factors that cause the plant to get sick. Succulents wilt because they are not happy with something in their environment. This could be their climate, water, light, or even bugs that are causing issues to the plant.

Succulents are very particular plants that are native to hot, arid climates. While they are native to these areas, they are often grown in climates that do not mimic this environment. Because of this, they often suffer issues from cold weather, rain, lack of sunlight and bugs, and other pests.

Living in North America can be a tough place to grow succulent to look healthy, but it is not impossible. I have researched some of the top issues that cause succulents to wilt and found the best solutions out there to ensure your succulents stay healthy no matter where you live.

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Can climate cause my succulent to wilt?

Succulents are native to Sub-Saharan Africa, The Southwest United States, Central America, South America, Mexico, and more. All these locations have in common that they traditionally are very hot climates with strong sunlight throughout the year and minimal rain. These areas are perfect for succulents, but if you are trying to grow a succulent outside of these areas, climate can cause your succulent to wilt.

Temperature

Succulents enjoy warm temperatures. Most succulents are native to areas where the average temperature throughout the year is 70-degrees or higher. Some succulents are able to survive lower temperatures for short periods.

Sempervivums are a succulent species that can survive negative temperatures throughout the year and still survive. While the Sempervivums may be tolerant to colder weather, not all succulents are. Succulents such as Aloe will freeze in cold weather. Due to the significant buildup of water in their leaves, these popular succulents are not cold-friendly.

If you live in a cold environment, you may notice that your succulent will begin to wilt if you leave it outside or too close to the window during the winter. It is essential to understand the heat requirements of your succulent before you put it outside if you live in the Northern Hemisphere. If the average temperature is below 50 degrees, it is best to keep your succulent indoors, which will help keep it from wilting.

Light

Succulents are sun-loving plants! Most succulents enjoy six or more hours of direct sunlight a day. They need high light in order to grow properly. If you are in an area that has a lot of overcast days, your succulent may be wilting due to lack of light.

Another light issue for succulents is being kept indoors, too far away from a window. Natural light is key to plant growth. An Aloe plant cannot tolerate low light. Its leaves will wilt and become soft instead of plump. If you keep your succulents indoors, they must be near a window. If your succulent requires six or more hours of light a day, a south-facing window will be your best option to provide your succulent with enough light to survive. 

Many types of cacti are also succulents who enjoy very high levels of light. If you notice any of these plants starting to shrivel, it could be a similar sign to wilting, which might mean they just want to be closer to a window. Be careful when moving your plants around windows during the winter because right next to a windowpane can still reach very low temperatures at night.

Water

Water is an essential life source for succulents, but too much of it or not enough can wreak havoc on your succulents. Succulents are drought-tolerant plants that can survive prolonged periods of time without water because they store water in their stems, leaves, or other foliage. The most common cause of killing a succulent is overwatering. Succulents do not need very much water, and when they are overwatered, their roots are unable to soak up all the water in the soil, which means they are forced to sit in damp soil, which can cause root rot. Rot root is when the soil is too damp for too long, and the roots on your plants can actually begin to break down and fall off.

If your succulent is wilting, check the moisture of the dirt with your finger. Stick your finger into the soil into your first knuckle. If the soil is bone dry, then your succulent is under watered. If you stick your finger in and only a little bit of soil sticks to your finger, it is probably time to water. If the soil is very wet and muddy, then your plant is overwatered, and your roots could be in danger.

If you have an outdoor plant, overwatering can be an issue because of rain. If it rains a significant amount on your succulent, your succulent may begin to wilt because its roots are dying. It is essential to manage your succulent water levels to mitigate the effects of overwatering.

Underwatering can also cause your succulents to wilt. While succulents do not need to be watered every day, they still do need regular water. If your finger was bone dry after doing the soil experiment above, you should put your succulent on a watering schedule. Start with watering the plant all the way through every two weeks. After two weeks have passed, check the soil to confirm if it needs to be watered again or wait. Once you find out how often your succulent needs to be watered, remember to always water it regularly. 

You may be able to tell if your succulent is underwatered based on the color of its leaves. If the leaves are yellowing and wilting, it is likely that you are underwatering. If the leaves are still green but beginning to wilt, you are overwatering.

Bugs and Funguses that could be killing your succulent

Suppose you have addressed all the environmental factors that your succulent could be suffering from without any improvement. In that case, it is likely that your succulent has a disease, fungus, or pest issue. These issues can range from plant to plant, for there are a few important notes to help you figure out which ones it is and how to help your plant.

Fungus

While you may have saved your succulent from the elements, there could be long-lasting effects from a less than ideal environment.  Fungal infections are common after a plant has had prolonged exposure to cool or wet weather. The fungus can cause your plant to grow lesions, leading to your succulent wilting and dying. In order to prevent fungal infections, it is important to make sure your succulent’s soil dries out between waterings and that it is not exposed to elements that are not good for its growth for long periods.

While fungal infections can easily cause wilting in your succulent, one thing you can do to try to stop the spread of the fungus is to cut off the infected part of the plant. While this might seem like an extreme measure, fungal infections can kill your plant, and it is best to lose just one section of your plant rather than the whole thing.

Pests

Pests are one of the most common reasons that plants have issues. There are a number of different bug species that like to feast on your succulents which can cause the entire plant to wilt.

Pests can get on your plants in the nursery or plant store that you bought the plant from or could be brought into your house on flowers, pets or even yourself.

Aphids

If you suspect that your plant may have a pest infestation, you must address it as soon as possible. One type of bug that could be destroying your succulent and causing it to wilt is Aphids. Aphids are a very small bug that uses their sucking mouthparts to feed on your succulents sap. Aphids are often hard to spot because they look like tiny black or brown dots on the leaves of your plant. These tiny bugs hid on the underside of the leaves of your succulents. A heavy infestation can cause yellowing or wilting due to excessive sap removal.

Spider mites

Spider mites are another common type of pest that can invade an indoor plant. Spider mites reproduce quickly, which means that you could have thousands of spider mite eggs on your succulent in no time. Spider mites are an issue because they too feast on your plant, leaving it susceptible to other diseases and problems. Spider mites are small and black or brown, just like an aphid but are larger in comparison, and you may even be able to spot their spider legs.

Mealybugs

Mealybugs are a large bug that lives on the underside of leaves or near the nodes of your plant. Mealybugs are often transplanted from plant nurseries into your home, where they can spread to other plants. Mealybugs act as a vessel for plant disease while also eating the plant and its roots, which can cause it to rot.  

If you suspect you have a bug issue or you have seen bugs on your plants and your succulent is wilting, it is time to act fast. A big problem that is causing your succulent to wilt is probably already widespread and needs to be addressed before it causes further damage to your succulent. Luckily, there are ways to treat all 3 of these invaders. 

Neem oil is the saving grace to many wilting succulents. Neem oil is a natural pest repellent. It comes in a potent oil that you can dilute in water and spray on your plants. If you are able to get neem oil, it is the best bet in fixing the wilting that these invaders are causing. If you do not have access to neem oil, you can also add a very small amount of dish soap to a spray bottle and mix it with water. Use this combination or a neem oil spray to treat your plants heavily. Make sure to pay special attention to the undersides of leaves and the soil that your plant is potted in as that is often where the eggs are. If you are able to control the bugs on your plants, you may also be able to fix the wilting.

About THE AUTHOR

Elsie Moore

Elsie Moore

As an experienced gardener & landscaper on my own property over the last 20 years, I'm excited to share the things I've learned along the way, as I continue to learn.

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