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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3 Answers 3


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.

  • 1
    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
    – kevinskio
    Jan 5, 2013 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, 2013 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, 2013 at 15:51

Water. Too much water. It's soaked it all up and is rotting.

Succulents kept indoors should be left unwatered and in the best sunlight available. You should really only water once a month or "eyeball it". When the plant starts to shrivel a bit, that's when it needs water. succulents store water in their leaves. They will literally use it up before drying out and you can see when they begin to do this by the shriveled leaves. A regular plant gets droopy so we water it. A succulent shrivels, so we water. T

he regular old house plant that droops will perk up in a few hours after watering, but the shriveled succulent will PLUMP back up in a few hours once the water reserves in its leaves are replenished. Just leave it be.

The best of my succulents are the ones I keep out of my "traffic" areas and have almost "forgotten" about. They thrive where I have to stop myself from watering those I "see" most often. It's human nature. We want to take care of it; in this case that's best done by doing nothing at all :)

  • Is that potting soil I see in the top picture? That stuff is death on succulents. It holds too much water. You're next succulent will do better in a soil made from sand and poor, clayey top soil. Think desert rather than the Tulip fields of Holland. Jun 19, 2014 at 17:58

Succulents also change color with weather changes. So if they go from a super warm apartment, to a chilly window sill; etc, they will change color. Mine changes colors with the change of the seasons here. Yours may be just fine, just temporarily showing you another of its hues. Enjoy💕

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