Bottom Succulent Leaves Falling Off (Reasons and Fixes)

If you’re a succulent lover, you’ve probably encountered the problem of bottom leaves dropping from your plant. Not to worry, you’re not alone! Many succulent owners have experienced leaf drop and wondered “why is my succulent losing its bottom leaves?”

If you notice your succulent dropping leaves, it may be due to:

  • Overwatering
  • Lack of proper drainage
  • Insufficient sunlight exposure
  • Environmental stress
  • Pests and diseases

In this section, we’ll explore these reasons in detail and offer solutions to revive your succulent. So, why is your succulent losing its bottom leaves? Let’s find out.

Key Takeaways:

  • Succulent leaves dropping is a common issue and can be caused by several reasons.
  • Overwatering, lack of proper drainage, insufficient sunlight exposure, environmental stress, and pests are the most common reasons for succulent leaf drop.
  • Identifying the cause of leaf drop is crucial to revive your succulent.

Lack of Proper Drainage and Overwatering

One of the most common reasons for succulent leaf loss is a lack of proper drainage and overwatering. Succulents are adapted to store water in their leaves and stems, making them tolerant to drought conditions. However, they are susceptible to root rot due to overwatering, poor drainage, and using the wrong soil medium.

Drainage Holes

Proper drainage is essential for succulents to thrive. Without drainage holes, water accumulates at the bottom of the pot, which can lead to root rot and other issues. If your pot doesn’t have drainage holes, consider repotting your succulent into a container that does or drilling holes in the current pot.

Too Much or Not Enough Water

It’s essential to provide your succulent with enough water but not too much. Overwatering can cause the roots to drown, leading to root rot, while underwatering can cause the leaves to wither and fall off.

The frequency of watering depends on the environment, the size of the pot, and the type of succulent. In general, aim to water your succulent when the soil is completely dry. You can stick a finger into the soil to determine if it’s time to water.

Signs of Overwatering and Root Rot

If you suspect your succulent has been overwatered, look for signs like mushy leaves, a drooping stem, and a pungent smell. These are clear indications of root rot, and immediate action is necessary to save your plant.

To prevent root rot, ensure your soil is well-draining and use a pot with drainage holes. If your succulent has already developed root rot, you may need to repot it and cut off any affected roots.

Signs of Overwatered Succulent Signs of Underwatered Succulent
Brown, mushy leaves Withered, dry leaves
A drooping stem Leaves falling off or shedding from the bottom
A pungent smell Soil pulling away from the pot edges

Poor Drainage and Signs of Root Rot

Poor drainage can lead to root rot, which can ultimately result in succulent death. Signs of root rot include black spots on the leaves, mushy leaves, and a foul odor.

It’s important to ensure that your soil is well-draining and that your pot has drainage holes. If you suspect root rot, you may need to repot your succulent and remove any affected roots. Using a new, well-draining soil mix can also help prevent future issues.

Overall, providing your succulent with the right amount of water and proper drainage is essential to prevent leaf loss and keep your plant healthy.

Insufficient Sunlight Exposure

Succulents are renowned for their ability to thrive in bright, sunny conditions, making them popular houseplants and outdoor ornamentals. However, insufficient sunlight exposure can cause succulent leaves to drop. It is essential to provide your succulent with adequate sunlight to ensure healthy growth and prevent leaf loss.

When it comes to succulent plants, there are a few things to keep in mind regarding sunlight exposure:

  • Direct sunlight: Succulents need ample direct sunlight to photosynthesize and produce oxygen, which is why these plants require at least six hours of direct sunlight daily.
  • Enough sunlight: Depending on the type of succulent, intense sunlight can harm the plant. Keep an eye on your succulent’s leaves and adjust its lighting conditions accordingly.
  • Bright light: If your succulent is not receiving enough sunlight, you may notice it stretching towards the nearest light source, resulting in elongated stems and weak growth.
  • Shade cloth: If your succulent is getting too much sun, consider using a shade cloth to protect it from the intense rays of the sun.
  • Full sun: Some succulent varieties thrive in full sun conditions, while others require partial shade. Research your plant’s specific needs to determine the right amount of sunlight.
  • Intense sunlight: In some cases, intense sunlight can cause succulent leaves to turn white, a process known as sunburn. Avoid exposing your succulent to direct sunlight during the hottest part of the day, especially during the summer months.
  • Low light conditions: Although succulents require sunlight to grow, they can survive in low light conditions for shorter periods. However, extended periods of low light can cause your succulent to drop leaves as it tries to conserve energy.

In conclusion, finding the right balance when it comes to sunlight exposure is crucial for the survival and growth of your succulent. By providing adequate light, your plant will thrive, and the chance of losing its beautiful foliage will decrease significantly.

Environmental Stress and Sudden Changes

Extreme temperatures or sudden changes in the environment can cause stress in succulents, leading to leaf drop. Succulents are hardy plants, but they cannot tolerate extreme temperatures or sudden changes in weather conditions, such as cold snaps or heat waves.

In the winter months, succulents can suffer from cold weather if they are exposed to freezing temperatures. This can damage their leaves, causing them to turn brown and fall off. To avoid this, move your succulent to a warmer location or provide additional insulation, such as a cloth covering or placing the plant inside a greenhouse.

In the summer months, succulents can be stressed by intense sunlight and high temperatures. To prevent leaf drop caused by sun damage, move your plant to a location with afternoon shade or use shade cloth to protect it from direct sunlight. Additionally, avoid placing your succulent in an area with extreme temperature fluctuations, such as near a drafty window or air conditioning unit.

Signs of Environmental Stress and Sudden Changes

If your succulent is experiencing environmental stress or sudden changes, you may notice the following signs:

  • Brown spots or discoloration on the leaves
  • Mushy or soft leaves
  • Stem rot
  • Dark spots or patches on the leaves

By taking steps to protect your succulent from extreme temperatures and sudden changes, you can prevent leaf loss caused by environmental stress.

Fungal Infections and Root Rot

Succulents are hardy plants that can withstand a variety of conditions, but they are susceptible to fungal infections and root rot.

Fungal infections can occur due to overwatering or poor drainage, making the soil too moist. As a result, the fungus can grow on the leaves and stems, causing black spots or discoloration.

Root rot is a more severe problem that happens when the plant’s roots are exposed to too much water, leading to the decay of the root system. Common signs of root rot include mushy leaves, stems that easily fall off, and a foul odor from the potting mix.

Signs of Fungal Infections and Root Rot

It’s essential to identify fungal infections and root rot early, so you can take action to save your succulent. Here are some signs to look for:

  • Black spots or discoloration on leaves or stems
  • Mushy leaves or stems that easily fall off
  • Foul odor from the potting mix

Treatment for Fungal Infections and Root Rot

Treating fungal infections and root rot will depend on the severity of the problem. Here are some steps you can take to save your succulent:

  • Remove any affected leaves or stems
  • Change the potting soil and remove any dead roots
  • Prune any portions of the succulent that are affected by the fungus
  • Use a fungicide to treat the remaining parts of the plant

It’s crucial to reconsider your watering schedule and make changes to avoid these issues in the future. Make sure your succulent has good drainage, and the soil is not consistently moist.

Taking care of your succulent’s health is vital to its survival. By being aware of the signs of fungal infections and root rot, you can take quick action to save your plants and enjoy their beauty for years to come.

Lack of Nutrients and Poor Soil Quality

Succulents, like any other plant, require the right nutrients to grow and thrive. Lack of nutrients and poor soil quality are significant reasons for succulent leaf loss.

When a succulent lacks essential nutrients, it can’t maintain the necessary metabolic processes, leading to leaf drop. Poor soil quality can also cause root rot, fungal infections that spread to the leaves, or even prevent the roots from absorbing nutrients from the soil.

The key to preventing nutrient deficiencies and poor soil quality is to choose the right soil mix. Succulent soil should be well-draining, allowing excess water to flow out of the pot. Mixing potting soil with sand or perlite can improve the drainage of the soil.

Another way to ensure your succulent gets the right nutrients is to repot it with fresh soil. Potting soil loses its nutrients over time, and repotting your succulent with new soil can provide it with the necessary nourishment.

Essential Nutrients for Succulents

The three essential nutrients that succulents require are Nitrogen (N), Phosphorus (P), and Potassium (K). Nitrogen is responsible for leaf and stem growth, phosphorus for root growth and flower development, and potassium helps with overall plant growth and health.

Apart from these primary nutrients, succulents also need secondary nutrients and micronutrients like Calcium (Ca), Magnesium (Mg), Iron (Fe), and Zinc (Zn) to grow.

Nutrient Function Deficiency Symptoms
Nitrogen (N) Leaf and stem growth Stunted growth, yellowing leaves
Phosphorus (P) Root growth and flower development Poor root development, weak stems
Potassium (K) Overall plant growth and health Poor growth, weak stems, yellowing leaves
Calcium (Ca) Cell wall structure Brown spots on leaves, stunted growth
Magnesium (Mg) Chlorophyll production Yellowing between the veins of leaves
Iron (Fe) Chlorophyll production Yellowing leaves with green veins
Zinc (Zn) Enzyme function Stunted growth, distorted leaves

To ensure your succulent gets all the necessary nutrients, you can use a succulent fertilizer. However, be careful not to over-fertilize, as this can harm the plant and cause leaf drop.

By providing your succulent with the right soil mix and nutrients, you can prevent it from losing its lower leaves and maintain its overall health.

Sun Damage and Overexposure

While sunlight is crucial to succulent growth, too much can cause harm. Intense sunlight, especially in hot afternoon hours, can damage succulent leaves and cause them to fall off. To prevent sun damage and overexposure, it is essential to understand the type of sunlight your succulent needs and how to protect it from the harsh sun.

The Impact of Sun Damage on Succulent Leaves

Overexposure to sunlight can cause succulent leaves to become scorched or discolored. Sun-damaged leaves may appear brown or white, and their texture may become mushy or slimy.

Did you know? Succulent leaves contain a waxy coating that protects them from excessive evaporation, but this layer can also make them vulnerable to sun damage.

Preventing Sun Damage and Overexposure

There are several ways to protect your succulent from sun damage and overexposure, including:

  • Placing your succulent in an area with the right amount of sunlight. Some succulents prefer full sun, while others thrive in partial shade. Use a shade cloth or an umbrella to provide shade if necessary.
  • Limiting the amount of direct sunlight your succulent receives, especially during the hottest hours of the day.
  • Using a grow light to supplement sunlight exposure. This is particularly helpful during the winter months when natural sunlight is limited.

By following these tips, you can prevent sun damage and overexposure, which can cause your succulent to lose its bottom leaves.

Natural Aging Process and Leaf Shedding

Succulents are hardy plants that can live for years when properly cared for. As succulents grow, it is natural for older leaves to die and fall off. This process is known as leaf shedding, and it is a sign that your plant is healthy and growing.

As the plant discards its older, lower leaves, it creates room for new growth. The new leaves are usually at the top of the plant, where they receive more light and better access to the nutrients they need to thrive.

If your succulent is losing its lower leaves and growing new ones at the top, it is likely because of the natural aging process. You can encourage healthy leaf growth by providing your plant with adequate light and nutrients.

Providing Adequate Light for Your Succulent

Older leaves on succulents drop off as a natural response to the introduction of new leaves. Therefore, it’s normal to notice the bottom leaves turning yellow or brown and falling off. However, if your plant is losing leaves on all levels, it could be due to a lack of light.

Succulents need plenty of light to grow. While they can survive in low-light conditions, they will not thrive. To encourage healthy leaf growth and prevent bottom leaf loss, place your succulent in a sunny location where it can receive at least six hours of bright, direct sunlight per day. Alternatively, you can use a grow light to ensure your plant gets enough light.

Providing Adequate Nutrients for Your Succulent

Succulents need nutrient-rich soil to grow. If your plant is not getting the necessary nutrients, it can weaken and drop leaves. To ensure your succulent gets proper nutrition, use a high-quality succulent soil mix with added fertilizer.

When repotting your succulent, remove any dead or dying leaves, and make sure to plant it in fresh soil. This will provide enough nutrients for the plant to grow healthy new leaves and drop off the older leaves.

It’s important to remember that the natural aging process is something that all succulents go through. As long as your plant is growing new leaves, it’s healthy and happy.

Pests and Diseases

Succulent plants are susceptible to pests and diseases that can cause leaf loss, discoloration, and damage. If you notice any of these signs, it is crucial to take action immediately to protect your succulent.

Common Pests

Some common pests that affect succulents include mealybugs, spider mites, and scale insects. These pests suck sap from the plant, causing leaves to wither and turn brown. They may also leave behind a sticky residue on the leaves.

To get rid of these pests, you can use a solution of water and dish soap or alcohol to clean the leaves. Alternatively, you can use insecticidal soap or neem oil, which are effective against most succulent pests.

Common Diseases

Succulent plants are also prone to several diseases, including stem rot, fungal infections, and bacterial infections. These diseases can cause brown spots, mushy leaves, and even plant death.

To prevent these diseases, it is essential to ensure that your succulent has proper drainage and is not overwatered. If you notice any signs of disease, remove the affected leaves or stems immediately to prevent the spread of infection.


Identifying and treating pests and diseases is crucial to the health of your succulent. By taking proactive measures, such as monitoring your succulent’s health and providing proper care, you can prevent and control these common problems and keep your succulent thriving for years to come.

Proper Care and Maintenance Tips

Succulents are easy-to-care-for plants that make great additions to any home or office space. However, to ensure your succulent stays healthy and happy, it is essential to follow some basic care and maintenance practices. Here are some tips to help you keep your succulent thriving:

Regular Watering Schedule

Watering is a crucial aspect of succulent care. Ensure the soil is dry before watering your succulent. Overwatering can lead to root rot, and underwatering can cause your succulent to become dehydrated. Establishing a regular watering schedule, such as once a week or every two weeks, can help you strike a good balance.

Succulent Care

Succulents are low-maintenance plants, but they still need care. Regularly remove any dead leaves or debris from your succulent’s pot and trim away any dead stems. You can also use a soft cloth or brush to remove dust and debris from the leaves. Additionally, consider providing your succulent with a grow light if it’s not receiving enough sunlight.

Good Drainage

Succulents need well-draining soil, so ensure that their pot has a drainage hole to prevent water from accumulating and causing root rot. You can also add sand or perlite to the soil to improve drainage.

Succulent Lovers

Joining a community of succulent lovers can help you learn more about how to care for your plant. Online forums, social media groups, and local plant clubs are great resources for exchanging tips and tricks, showcasing your succulent collection, and finding answers to any questions you may have.


Now that you have a better understanding of the reasons behind succulent leaf loss and how to prevent it, you can keep your plants healthy and thriving.

Remember to check for proper drainage and avoid overwatering

Lack of proper drainage and overwatering are common issues that can cause succulent leaf loss. To prevent this, make sure your plants have a drainage hole, avoid overwatering, and use a well-draining soil mix.

Give your succulents adequate sunlight exposure

Proper sunlight exposure is crucial for succulent growth. Make sure your plants receive enough bright light, but protect them from intense sunlight with shade cloth. Keep in mind that different succulent types have varying sunlight requirements.

Protect your succulents from environmental stress and pests

Succulents can be sensitive to environmental stress, such as extreme temperatures and sudden changes in weather. Protect them from these stressors and pests by keeping them indoors during cold weather and using appropriate pest control methods.

Provide your succulents with proper care and maintenance

Regular watering, fertilizing, and proper care practices are essential for keeping succulents healthy. Develop a watering schedule and use a good quality soil mix to ensure your plants receive the nutrients they need.

By following these tips and providing the right care for your succulents, you can prevent bottom leaf loss and enjoy the beauty of these unique plants for years to come.


How can I prevent my succulent’s bottom leaves from falling off?

To prevent succulent leaf loss, ensure your plant has proper drainage and avoid overwatering. Provide adequate sunlight exposure, protect the plant from extreme temperatures and sudden changes, and monitor for fungal infections or root rot. Use nutrient-rich soil and maintain good care practices. Control pests and diseases by identifying symptoms and taking appropriate measures.

What should I do if my succulent’s leaves are dropping?

If your succulent’s leaves are dropping, assess and address potential issues such as watering habits, sunlight exposure, soil quality, and signs of pests or diseases. Adjust watering frequency, provide sufficient sunlight or shade, repot in fresh soil if necessary, and treat any infections or infestations promptly.

Is it normal for succulents to lose lower leaves?

Yes, it is normal for succulents to shed their lower leaves as part of the natural aging process. As new leaves emerge, older leaves may dry up and fall off. This is a normal growth pattern for many succulent species.

How often should I water my succulent to prevent leaf loss?

The watering frequency for succulents depends on various factors such as the climate, pot size, and soil type. Generally, it is recommended to allow the soil to dry out completely between waterings. Overwatering can lead to root rot and leaf loss, so it’s important to establish a regular watering schedule and adjust it as needed.

Can I grow succulents indoors without direct sunlight?

Yes, you can grow succulents indoors without direct sunlight by providing them with bright, indirect light. If natural light is limited, you can use grow lights to supplement the required light intensity. Just ensure the succulents are not placed in low light conditions for extended periods as this can lead to weak growth and leaf loss.

How can I protect my succulent from sun damage?

To protect your succulent from sun damage, provide it with the right amount of sunlight based on its species. If intense afternoon sun is a concern, you can use shade cloth or place the plant in a location where it receives partial sun. Monitoring the plant for signs of sunburn, such as discoloration or wilting, can also help you adjust its sun exposure accordingly.

What are some common pests and diseases that affect succulents?

Some common pests that affect succulents include mealybugs, spider mites, aphids, and scale insects. Diseases such as fungal infections and root rot can also impact succulents. Look out for symptoms like brown spots, mushy leaves, or stem rot, and take appropriate measures to control and treat these pest and disease issues.

What are some general care tips for maintaining healthy succulents?

To maintain healthy succulents, ensure they have adequate drainage in their pots, use a well-draining succulent soil mix, and water them regularly but allow the soil to dry out between waterings. Place them in a location with proper sunlight exposure, provide occasional fertilization, and monitor for any signs of nutrient deficiency or pests. Regular care and maintenance are essential for the overall health and longevity of your succulents.

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