Why is my Succulent dying?

and what can I do about it?

Those little plants in cute containers are so appealing when you see them in big box stores, so you take one home - or maybe, a friend thinks, oh I know someone who would love a little succulent!

What on earth is wrong with this plant??


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All is well for a while, the little succulent doesn't seem to grow much, but maybe that's because it's a dwarf kind of plant.

Then, the leaves start to turn yellow.

And then they start to fall off.

Why is my succulent dying? you think.

And then it's game over, the plant completely shrivels to nothing, or worse yet, rotting sets in. The whole thing goes in the garbage, and you never think anything more.

All it takes is to take your plant apart and check the roots, and you'll be shocked; now, it's pretty obvious why your succulent is dying!

tight wrapping of the root balls..Tightly wrapped roots with no soil to speak of...
now it's obvious why your succulent is dying...now it's obvious why your plant is dying

So, after dumping out the pot of sand and pebbles (yeah, they're nice and polished, but really!) and see what the poor plant has been dealing with - no soil, and the roots tightly wrapped and an elastic band around them.

It's no wonder it couldn't thrive - but give it credit - it survived this torture for eight months or more, and there is still hope.

Compost tea working its magic

I've taken the elastic band off, and the tiny bit of very poor soil that was within the root ball, and I've done something I seldom recommend; totally immersed the four cuttings in the compost tea barrel.

I'll let it soak up some of the nutrients, and then pot the cuttings into some fast draining mix, then the plant can join the other tender succulents in the summer pasture to recover.

By fall, you won't recognize these plants. It's totally amazing to me how resilient they are - but torturing them shouldn't be allowed.

The next time you get a gifted plant, do it a favor, and dismantle it - I know it sounds cruel, but it's better than asking, 'why is my succulent dying?' a few months later.

The growers that put these plants and containers together are not horticulturists - they are just trying to get the hard earned money out of your pocket, and they don't care what happens to the plant.


One of the issues most new succulent growers have is that they water too much, or too often, and most often the soil that the plant is potted in is totally wrong. If the soil holds too much water, rot ensues. 

Always.

Here's a selection of succulent soil from my affiliate that I recommend.

Lots of people have grown ferns and other jungle type plants, which actually like damp soil, but succulents hate it.  They also require bright light, and they hate dim light. 

This list of ten best succulents for beginners gives you options that are fool proof and forgiving.


Find out more about Sempervivum problems here.  The Plant Guides have a lot of information about growing many different drought tolerant plants, too.

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Hardy Succulents

Tender Succulent Plants




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