Succulent Leaves Turning Yellow: Reasons + Fix

Succulents are beloved plants known for their ability to store water in their leaves, stems, or roots, making them drought-resistant and easy to care for.

However, even with their low-maintenance reputation, they can face issues like yellowing leaves, which may indicate an underlying problem.

This article will explore why your Succulent leaves might turn yellow and provide practical solutions to help your succulents thrive again.

Succulent Leaves Turning Yellow

Reasons for Your Succulent Leaves Turning Yellow

With their striking appearance and minimal care requirements, succulents have become a popular choice for plant enthusiasts.

However, when the leaves of these hardy plants start turning yellow, it can be a cause for concern.

Yellowing leaves in succulents can indicate underlying issues that need attention.

Here are the common why is my succulent turning yellow, helping you understand the potential causes and take appropriate measures to restore your succulents to their vibrant and healthy state.


One of the most common causes of yellowing leaves in succulents is overwatering.

Succulents are adapted to arid environments and have evolved to store water, so they can quickly suffer from root rot if exposed to excessive moisture.

Overwatering suffocates the roots and prevents them from absorbing oxygen, leading to yellowing and, eventually, browning of leaves.

While succulents are drought-resistant, they still require some water to stay healthy.

Underwatering, on the other hand, can also cause yellowing leaves. When a succulent does not receive enough water, it will conserve energy by shedding its older leaves, resulting in a yellow appearance.

Pest Infestation

Pests like mealybugs, aphids, and spider mites can infest succulents, causing damage to their leaves. These tiny creatures feed on the plant’s sap, leading to yellow spots and distorted growth.

A pest infestation can quickly spread and weaken the plant if left untreated. Too Much Sunlight Although succulents love sunlight, excessive exposure to direct, intense sunlight can lead to sunburn.

The leaves may develop yellow or brown spots, and the plant might exhibit signs of stress, like wilting or drooping.

Drainage Problem Proper drainage is crucial for succulents. If the potting medium retains too much water or has no drainage hole, the roots can become waterlogged, leading to root rot and yellowing of leaves. Explain in detail the above section.


Overwatering is a common mistake made by succulent enthusiasts, often leading to yellowing leaves and overall plant decline.

Succulents have adapted to survive in arid environments, storing water in their leaves, stems, or roots to sustain themselves during dry periods.

When exposed to excessive moisture, the origins of succulents can become waterlogged, leading to root rot.

Root rot occurs when the roots are deprived of oxygen, causing them to decay and become less efficient in absorbing nutrients and water from the soil.


While succulents are adapted to withstand drought conditions, they still require regular watering to maintain their health and vigor.

Underwatering occurs when succulents do not receive enough water to sustain their growth and physiological functions. When this happens, the plant will start conserving energy and resources by shedding its older leaves.

This conservation process results in the yellowing of leaves as the plant redirects its nutrients to more vital parts.

To prevent underwatering, it is crucial to observe the Succulent for signs of dehydration and adjust the watering schedule accordingly.

As mentioned earlier, allow the top inch of the soil to dry out before watering the plant thoroughly.

Remember to check the specific water requirements of your succulent species, as some varieties may need more frequent watering than others.

Pest Infestation

Pests can wreak havoc on succulent plants, causing damage to their leaves and overall health. Mealybugs, aphids, and spider mites are common culprits that infest succulents.

These tiny insects feed on the plant’s sap, depriving it of essential nutrients and causing stress to the Succulent. As the pests feed on the sap, they leave behind yellow spots on the leaves.

Over time, the infestation can spread, leading to distorted growth, stunted development, and further yellowing of leaves.

In severe cases, the Succulent may lose its ability to sustain itself, resulting in wilting and a weakened appearance.

Too Much Sunlight

Succulents thrive in bright sunlight, but too much direct, intense sunlight can lead to sunburn.

Sunburn on succulent leaves appears as yellow or brown spots, which are essentially the plant’s defense mechanism against excessive light exposure.

The Succulent may also exhibit wilting or drooping as a response to stress. To protect your Succulent from sunburn, provide it with bright, indirect sunlight, especially during the hottest parts of the day.

Gradually acclimate the plant to higher light levels by increasing its exposure to direct sunlight over several weeks.

Additionally, placing the Succulent near a sheer curtain or using a shade cloth can help filter out harsh sunlight while still providing adequate brightness.

Drainage Problem

Proper drainage is crucial for succulents as it helps prevent waterlogged roots and subsequent root rot. If the potting medium retains too much water, the roots will be deprived of oxygen, leading to yellowing of leaves and poor overall growth.

Choose a well-draining potting mix specifically formulated for succulents or cacti to ensure good drainage. The mixture should contain perlite, pumice, or coarse sand, which promotes water drainage and aeration.

Moreover, ensure your succulent pot has drainage holes at the bottom to allow excess water to escape.

How to Fix Succulent Leaves Turning Yellow?

Here are the ways to fix this issue:

Treat Pest Infestation

If you suspect a pest infestation, scrutinize your Succulent.

Here is the way to combat a pest infestation on your Succulent:

  • Carefully inspect your Succulent regularly. Take immediate action if you notice any signs of pests, such as webbing or sticky residue on the leaves.
  • Isolate the affected plant to prevent the pests from spreading to other succulents.
  • Remove the pests manually using a cotton swab dipped in rubbing alcohol or neem oil.
  • For a more extensive infestation, use an insecticidal soap or neem oil spray, following the product instructions diligently.

Change the Soil

If your Succulent leaves are turning yellow due to overwatering or poor drainage, repotting the plant in well-draining soil can make a significant difference.

Use a specialized succulent or cactus mix that drains excess water from the roots.

Dry the Roots

It is crucial to dry out the roots of succulents suffering from overwatering. Carefully remove the plant from its pot and gently shake off excess soil.

Let the plant air-dry for a few hours before repotting it into dry soil. Avoid watering the Succulent for a few days to allow the roots to recover.

Fix the Lighting Condition

If your succulent shows sunburn, move it to a spot with bright, indirect sunlight. This would help the succulent to recover.

Fix the Watering Schedule if the Succulent was overwatered/Underwatered

Establishing a proper watering schedule is essential for the health of your Succulent.

Water only when the top inch of the soil is dry, and adjust the frequency based on the climate and humidity in your location. Remember that succulents require less water during their dormant winter period.

Frequently Asked Questions

How do you fix a yellowing succulent?

To fix the Yellowing Succulent issue, you can adjust the watering schedule and move the plant to a location with indirect sunlight. Additionally, you may want to check the soil for drainage issues and repot the plant if necessary.

Should I remove yellow leaves from succulents?

Yes, you should remove yellow leaves from succulents as they indicate that the plant is stressed or dying, and removing them can promote healthier growth.

What does it mean if succulent leaves turn yellow?

When succulent leaves turn yellow, it could indicate overwatering, underwatering, pests, nutrient deficiencies, or lack of sunlight.

Can yellow succulent leaves recover?

The recovery of yellow succulent leaves depends on the extent of damage and the care provided. If the yellowing is caught early and appropriate measures are taken to address the underlying issue, the plant can recover. Trim away severely damaged leaves with clean, sharp scissors or pruners to redirect the plant’s energy toward healthy growth.

Can Yellow Leaves on Succulents be a Sign of Dying?

Yellow leaves on succulents can be one of the reasons for succulent dying. These vibrant plants typically thrive in bright sunlight and well-draining soil, but overwatering or inadequate light can cause stress, leading to yellowing leaves. It is essential to adapt watering routines and ensure optimal sunlight exposure to prevent succulent decline.

Wrapping Up

Yellowing succulent leaves are a common issue that various factors, such as overwatering, underwatering, pest infestation, excessive sunlight, or drainage problems, can cause.

By identifying the specific cause and applying the appropriate solutions, you can nurse your Succulent back to health and enjoy its vibrant beauty again.

Remember to establish a proper watering schedule, provide adequate sunlight, and check for pests regularly to ensure your succulents stay healthy and thriving for years. Happy succulent gardening!

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