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The death toll of plants in my apartment continues to rise, having lost both a miniature rose and a rosemary plant to powdery mildew.

Now something's killing one of my succulents. It was fine when we left for holiday travel, but on returning it's in bad shape - formerly opaque leaves are now droopy and a sad, waxy transparent color - those that haven't simply fallen off, and it looks like there's a livid purple-brown...bruise...that I suspect is rot or the like spreading from the center of the plant out.

Any idea what caused this?

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1 Answer

I'd hazard an educated guess at bad growing conditions - it looks as if this plant is in a pot, which presumably has drainage holes, sitting inside an outer container which probably does not. Succulents like to be kept on the dry side, preferring well drained conditions - if you've watered that too often, and not emptied the outer pot of all water twice after half an hour each time post watering, then its roots have been sitting in wet conditions. Most plants do not like that kind of environment, but succulents particularly loathe it.

It also seems that the outer pot is too deep, meaning the plant itself is sitting too low in it - this will block airflow around the plant. Moving air reduces dampness and the likelihood of fungal conditions, although I'm not suggesting you should keep all houseplants near a wide open window in cold conditions.

Watering houseplants is a bit of an art - in general, you water only when the surface of the growing medium is dry to the touch, but not so dry it's shrunken from the sides of the pot. When you water, do it well, let the plant sit for half an hour, then empty any outer pot. If its still sopping wet, you need to return and empty the outer pot or tray again, and maybe again, till there's no water present which is still draining.

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This is root rot from over watering or inadequate drainage.It sounds unlikely that it is from cold temperatures which also produce similar looking damage –  kevinsky Jan 5 '13 at 16:06
    
So some of the pot related stuff is a bit of a red herring, because it was taken out of its pot for picture taking. What it's currently sitting in is a Whole Foods plastic tub ;). But the original pot didn't have much drainage either. Sounds like root rot is the culprit. –  Fomite Jan 5 '13 at 21:51
    
I'd say for sure that's the problem - good drainage is essential, and over watering should be avoided. –  Bamboo Jan 6 '13 at 15:51
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