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My Succulents Have Too Much Water! How To Rescue Them?

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How To Save Overwatered Succulents

How do you save overwatered succulents?

The most common cause of failure when growing succulents is giving them too much water. While these chunky plants are resilient when it comes to water shortages, they are also equally fragile when they have too much. Overwatered succulents are in danger of destruction. And in this article, you will learn how to save your overwatered succulents.

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If your succulent plants end up getting overwatered, either from you giving them too much water or from heavy rains, do not despair. You are not powerless to save them. There is no reason just to ignore the problem and just let them rot completely. There are a few things you can do to save your overwatered succulents. And this post will teach you how.

Succulent plants thrive well in dry and sunny locations. But those living in humid places or areas where it frequently rains are in danger of absorbing water beyond what they can tolerate.

Just in case your succulent plants receive too much water, how can you save them?

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Can you still save your overwatered succulents?

There’s still hope for your overwatered succulents. How many of them  you can save depends on several factors:

  • Early Intervention. The sooner the plant is rescued, the less complicated your work will be. The longer you wait, the more problems you will have to deal with while saving it. 
  • The extent of the damage. The larger the affected area and the more severe the damage to the plant, the lesser chance of its survival. 
  • What species you have. Some succulents are more delicate than others. Consequently, some succulents rot faster than others. You have to keep in mind that not all succulents are the same.
  • The plant’s structure. Succulents come in different colors, sizes, shapes, and forms. Some succulents, like the Echeverias, have rosette-forming leaves and are low-growing. The closer they are to the ground, the faster they rot when left too long in wet soil compared to those with trunks and branches.

Before you can save the overwatered succulents, you first need to identify the signs if the plant is in danger of drowning and needs saving. 

How To Identify Overwatered Succulents

checking overwatered succulents
How to check overwatered succulents

Water is critical to plant survival, and succulents are no different because they are also living plants. So they, too, need water to survive. Succulents, however, have a particular way of dealing with the water they’ve absorbed, making them resilient during a prolonged drought.

Unlike the common plants we are used to seeing every day that needs frequent watering, succulents can thrive even under prolonged dry spells. That is because they are capable of storing the water they’ve absorbed. 

Although storing water is their most significant asset, which allows them to survive in challenging locations, this same strong point is also their greatest weakness. Their ability to store water can also put their lives at risk in situations where water is abundant—such as in places where it frequently rains.

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Luckily, although most succulents have massive roots to absorb water fast, it takes a few days before severe damage can occur. However, you can look out for some early warning signs so you can take appropriate action.

The easiest way to catch the problem is by looking at their leaves. It’s where the signs are more evident. 

What overwatered succulents look like?

Here are some signs you need to look for: 

  • Bloatedness. Succulents keep their absorbed water in their storage cells, mostly in their leaves and stem. As their stored water increases, so does the size of their storage area. So wherever they store the water, that area gets swollen.  
  • Hardness. As succulent storage cells expand to accommodate more water, they get fuller, and you can feel the hardness when you pinch a leaf.
  • Cracks. Over time, when their leaves can no longer hold water, you’ll notice some cracks as they tear open. 
  • Blisters. Those with thin epidermal windows like the Fenestraria rhopalophylla  ‘Baby Toes’ may stretch out, expand, and may have what look like blisters about to pop. Others with thicker leaf cuticles may develop scattered patches or bumps on the leaves, sometimes dark or black.
  • Leaves are falling off. As the leaves get too heavy, they get detached from the stems. Over time, they may fall off.
  • Mushy or translucent. Soft, translucent leaves occur when storage ruptures and the stored moisture leaks out to the surrounding tissues.
  • Rosettes opening. Those with rosette-forming leaves are often compact with enough sunlight and water. But once overwatered, the rosette opens wider like a flower in full bloom.
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In areas like ours in California, where the weather is mild-to-hot and mostly dry, growing succulents outdoors is ideal. But for those living in places where it is very humid or where it frequently rains, it can be so challenging. You may need to take extra steps to protect them from the elements.

Let me make this clear: Succulents love water. They love rainwater. They love to sip and keep a lot of water. But too much of it can cause them harm.

If succulents love rainwater, why and when should you worry?

Well, if your succulents are dehydrated or you are using a medium that does not hold a lot of water, you do not need to worry when it rains. Your succulents would be so happy to absorb as much as they can, like a sponge.

Also, for matured and rooted succulents, heavy rain is not a big problem because their root system is already well-established. They also have enormous trunks or have a lot of leaves for storage. 

But for tiny ones or those recently planted cuttings, this may mean their destruction due to excess water or root rot if the soil remains wet for too long. 

This same lethal consequence will apply to succulents that got too much rain, those that you have overwatered, those with the wrong soil mixture, or those put in wrong planter choices.

The most effective way to avoid facing this overwatering issue is to prevent it from happening.

First, let’s talk about the steps you need to take to prevent overwatering.

You see, when we bring succulents to our homes, and we treat them the way we treat our other plants, they are in danger of getting too much water. So you need to tweak a few things from the start.

Here are Important tips you need to keep in mind for their safety.

  • Use a fast-draining soil mixture. It needs to be a mixture that drains water fast. You can use ready-made soil mixes, or you can create your combination.
  • Use containers with drainage holes. You need to ensure that water will drain through fast and not pool at the bottom of the pot. There are a lot of pretty planters for succulents that already come with holes.
  • Water accordingly. Learn to water your succulents correctly and understand the signs your plants are showing you. 

How do you protect succulents from getting damaged due to heavy rains?

Move them to shelter. If you have potted ones and anticipate the rain, you might want to bring them to where they have a shelter—in your garage, kitchen, or wherever you have a roof. But, if you have already collected a lot,  It’s too much work to bring them in and out each time it rains. So, you do the next option.

Install a make-shift shelter. You can also install make-shift protection using plastic table covers, sun shades, umbrellas, or trays. A make-shift shelter is something temporary. If you want to make your life easier, you can build something permanent.

Build a greenhouse. Build permanent shelter, preferably with a transparent roof, so that your plants can still enjoy the sun yet get protection from the rain.

Amend the soil. Use a more crumbly mixture with more inorganic mixes to allow more water to drain through.

Use containers with drainage holes. To allow water to pass through and not pool at the bottom.

What To Do When Succulents Get Soaked In The Rain

So what happens if there’s a sudden heavy downpour or several days of rain and your plants are in the open? What if you’re not at home when this happens, or you can’t bring them to shelter?

In case your succulents get soaked in the rain, here’s what you should do.

First, assess the plants. Are they showing signs that they’ve taken in too much? If not, check to make sure that they are not sitting in a pool of water. It will also help to tip the container over to drain excess water.

Next, check the soil. Is the soil heavily saturated with water? If you are using mixes with many organic components, the soil will absorb more water compared to those mixes with more inorganic components like pebbles or lava rocks. If you think the soil will dry out in a few days, and the plants are not overwatered yet, just closely observe them.

How To Save Overwatered Succulents

What to do when succulents get soaked in the rain.

But, If the succulents show signs of overwatering problems like cracked leaves, discoloration, leaves falling off, or translucent mushy leaves, you need to take action. 

If it is soaking wet, you need to uproot the plants. This task may take time, depending on how many plants you have to save. 

Be gentle when you take them out from their pot or container. Remove the plants using a chopstick or a long tweezer. Using this tool will ensure the uprooting the plant without damaging any more leaves or their neighboring plant. 

Also, make sure that you shake off the clumped, wet dirt clinging to their roots. Again, the idea is to separate the roots from as much wet soil as possible to prevent them from absorbing more water.

In some cases where it’s challenging to shake off the wet dirt, rinse them in clean water only long enough to loosen the waterlogged soil. Just be gentle when you swish them around in the water. You do not want to break any more stems or leaves, and you also do not want to lose any sprouting babies.

If you do have some leaves that have fallen or broken off, guess what? You can always propagate them. Leaf propagation is another exciting way to grow more succulents. If you want to know more about it, I have a separate video about leaf propagation. I will leave a link in the description below.

You can then air dry your succulents for a day or two before repotting them. 

Or, you can replant right away. Just make sure you are using a dry soil mixture when doing so. 

After repotting, do not water them for at least two weeks, or even longer. Then, they can survive for a while using the water they have already absorbed. 

When do you water again? The best way to determine if they are thirsty is not to check if the soil is dry but to see if your plants are showing you signs that they are ready for more water.

Repotting them at this point is also the perfect time to check and clean your succulents.

Take out any dry leaves or those that look bloated or those showing root rot. You can repot matured and rooted succulents t them the same way in the same pot, or you can be creative again and make a different arrangement.

What happens to all the wet soil mixture you just removed? 

Don’t throw them away. You can still use them later on. For example, you can collect the waterlogged soil or dirt in a wide shallow pan or just keep them in one area where they can dry under the sun. Once dry, you can amend your soil and use them again.

As for your newly repotted plants, treat them like you would the first time you planted them. Put them under a bright area, but not under full sun. Acclimatize them again. You can monitor and check after a few days or after a week. 

We’ve covered a lot of tips and tricks on how to save your overwatered succulents. May all these be useful to you as you start growing healthy and happy succulent plants.

Enjoy gardening with succulents! 


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