Succulent Rehab: Nurse Your Overwatered Plant Back to Health

Succulent Rehab: Nurse Your Overwatered Plant Back to Health

Succulents originate from arid regions, which means they’re adapted to survive in low-water conditions. Overwatering your succulents will cause them to struggle to grow, and they could even die.

If you’ve overwatered your plants, how can you nurse your overwatered succulents back to health?

You can help your overwatered plant by allowing its soil to dry out and ensuring it has enough drainage. You should also cut off any black or rotting parts on the plant so that the rest of it can be saved.

In this article, I’ll explore everything you need to know about not watering your succulent too much and how you can heal your overwatered plant.

How Do You Know You’ve Overwatered Your Succulent?

How Do You Know You’ve Overwatered Your Succulent?

You can tell you’ve overwatered your succulent if you can see that its leaves are discolored and look mushy. They will also fall off the plant. Depending on the type of succulent you have, its leaves might become translucent. 

Let’s take a look at these symptoms in greater detail. 

  • Mushy leaves. Although soft leaves can be an indication of overwatering and underwatering, if you’ve given your succulent too much water it will also show symptoms of not looking well. Its leaves will shrivel up. 
  • Discolored leaves. Not only can the plant’s leaves become discolored in places, but they can turn black. This is a sign that water has caused them to rot. It can also be a sign of fungal disease in the plant.
  • Dropping leaves. When you overwater a succulent, its leaves will drop off the plant because they’re heavy with water. This differs from leaf drop that occurs from underwatering a plant because the latter will display symptoms such as brown, dried leaves at the bottom of the plant that fall off. 

To prevent these issues, you should ensure you only give your succulent a small amount of water. You should water it once every other week during the summer if temperatures are higher than 40°F (4.4°C).

Its soil should be dry before you top up on its water, as this shows the plant needs the water and you’re not giving it too much. 

How to Save Your Overwatered Succulent

How to Save Your Overwatered Succulent

You can save your overwatered succulent by drying the plant and its soil. Scale back watering it, so you only water it again after about a week. If your succulent is in a pot, place it in an area where it will receive more sunshine to dry out its soil.

Here are some important tips to follow to ensure that your succulent is brought back to health. 

  • Replant a potted succulent. If the succulent is in a pot that’s got soggy soil, you should transplant it into a new pot. Fill it with a well-draining potting mix
  • Get the right soil mix. Add some gravel to the bottom of a pot to enhance its drainage. Then, add potting soil for succulents to it. It should have ingredients such as vermiculite that encourage better drainage. 
  • Remove any leaves and stems that are rotting. You want to eliminate them so that the rot doesn’t spread and cause the rest of the plant to experience disease.
  • Remove any excess water. If there’s excess water in your succulent saucer or pot, you can drain these (if they’re small) in the sink or outside in the garden. For larger pots, you can soak up the water with a turkey baster. This works well to remove water from saucers if the pots are too heavy to lift and move. It can also remove water from succulents in hanging baskets

When to Take Emergency Measures

When to Take Emergency Measures

If your succulent has been overwatered a lot or over a long period, you will need to act quickly to try to save it. This can include emergency measures such as transplanting the succulent. 

If you can see any black or rotting parts on the plant, you should cut these off the plant so that the healthy part of the plant can be saved. If you can see that all the roots have become rotten, you should cut them off so that no rot can continue to spread through the plant. 

Once you’ve done the above, you must dry out the succulent by placing it in a sunny area of the garden for a few days. However, don’t place it in an area that receives lots of direct, harsh sunlight, as this will burn its leaves.

You should then transplant your succulent in fresh soil and water it when the first few inches (approx. 5cm) of the soil feel dry. Ideally, leave it for about a week before you water it so that you don’t fall into the same trap of watering it too much. 

Can the Plant Still Be Saved if the Stem Is Rotting?

Can the Plant Still Be Saved if the Stem Is Rotting?

You can save your plant if its stem is rotting, but only if the rotting is just starting to occur. If you leave the rotting to spread, this will damage too much of the plant, so you won’t be able to save any part of it.

This is why it’s essential to check your succulent for any rotting so that you can nip it in the bud as quickly as possible. If the stem of the plant is black all the way through to the center, this is a bad sign, and it won’t be easy to fix – in fact, the succulent could die.

If only the lower parts of the stem are starting to change color and turn black, you can still save it by cutting the rest of the stem off the plant and transplanting it into a new pot with fresh potting soil.

Here’s how to save a succulent that’s starting to rot: 

  1. Stop watering your succulent. 
  2. Remove the succulent from its pot and wash the roots under the tap to remove excess soil. 
  3. Cut away any brown or black parts on the plant. 
  4. Fill a new pot halfway with fresh potting soil – never reuse soil from its previous pot as it could contain too much water or fungus that will infect your new plant. 
  5. Make sure the pot has drainage holes. You will have to drill them into the pot if it doesn’t. 
  6. Place the new pot with your succulent in an area that’s dry, has good air ventilation, and is sunny without being exposed to harsh, bright light. 

When choosing the best potting soil for your succulent, ensure it’s designed for succulents. I’d recommend this Organic Potting Soil, Cactus, and Succulent Soil Mix Professional Grower Mix Soil, which is available from Amazon. It contains organic ingredients that promote drainage, and it also balances pH to ensure that your plants get the correct soil. 

How Long Does It Take a Succulent to Recover From Overwatering?

How Long Does It Take a Succulent to Recover From Overwatering?

If you’ve overwatered your succulent, it will need a few days to a week to recover. However, this depends on factors such as if it’s started to experience rotting and how long it’s been overwatered.

If there’s some root damage or rotting on the plant, then it will take longer for it to recover. You can speed up the process by ensuring greater soil drainage. Adding a drainage-enhancing ingredient to the soil, such as perlite, can help to prevent the succulent’s roots from sitting in water which will cause damage all over again. 

If you’ve cut off the roots of your plant, note that it will take longer to recover – sometimes up to a few months. So, be patient!

The most important thing is to continue looking after your succulent as it tries to recover. Make sure that it is in a sunny area of the garden or home so that its leaves will grow. Other tips include the following:

  • Rotate the succulent pot regularly so that all parts of it get enough sunlight, preventing it from becoming leggy as it tries to stretch for the light. 
  • Water your succulent’s soil until you can see water leak out of the pot’s drainage holes. Never spray the succulent, as this can cause its leaves to become moldy and brittle. 

If you’re struggling to look after your succulents, you should consider purchasing artificial succulents that will add beauty to your home without any stress! 


If you’ve overwatered your succulent, this can cause it to look unhealthy and start to rot. To repair an overwatered succulent, you must move quickly to save it. Your strategy should include: 

  • Removing rotting or discolored leaves from the plant.
  • Drying out the succulent by placing it in an area that receives enough light that’s not too harsh. 
  • Not watering your succulent for a few days and only watering it again when its soil is completely dry. 

About The Author

Gina Harper grew up dreaming about farms and growing her own food. She began an urban garden to feed herself and turned it into an incredible hobby. Gina is here to teach you everything from raised beds to container gardening, how to keep plants alive and well in a smoggy city, and the works. It’s time that we carve our own piece of green earth and reap what we sow—she’s here to help you with that.