Succulent leaves turning yellow and soft | how to solve

Why is my succulent leaves turning yellow and soft? Succulents are usually known as plants which require easy maintenance. Hence, many people tend to grow succulents in their gardens a lot.

These succulents usually grow well if their fundamental requirements are met. Apart from that, they have a natural mechanism where they can conserve water in their leaves and in stems.

This  is a specialty among the succulents and that is one of the reasons why they are regarded as easy maintaining plants.

However succulents could also get fuzzy sometimes and will make trouble for you If they are neglected for a longer period. One such situation is that they are turning yellow and mushy.

Healthy succulents are mostly seen in green color. However if a particular succulent is turning yellow it indicates that it is struggling to survive.

This is considered as a common issue which is faced by the succulents plant lovers a lot. There are several reasons which cause the succulents to turn yellow and mushy.

Succulent leaves turning yellow and soft

What does it mean if succulent leaves turning yellow?

Their leaves usually turn yellow due to several reasons. They are mainly due to over watering, under watering, lack of sunlight, bug infestation, providing them with the wrong soil mix, inappropriate pots etc. and finally due to natural aging.

If we talk about them in detail, priority should be given for over watering and for under watering.

 Over watering

Succulents most faced issues are water related. Succulents are plants which prefer to grow in heated conditions.

Further since they have a natural water conservation system, they do not really like to be over watered. In case you spot the succulent leaves are yellow, try to touch them and see whether they are soggy or mushy.

If you feel it that way, undoubtedly it is due to over watering. The very first sign the succulents give to indicate that they are suffering with over watering is losing their leaves at a gentle touch.

There could be root rots as well. Afterwards, chances are that little black spots will start appearing on the leaves as well as on the stems.

Unfortunately, This will be the time where you cannot do anything to protect your plant irrespective of what you do to save it.

Under watering  –

 Though , under watering is less spoken when it comes to succulents, that could also affect turning the succulents yellow.

Succulents like Portulacaria alfa or Senecio haworthii are examples for that. Leaves may look a little dried and brittle once they turn yellow.

Those two features are signs of under watering. As soon as you spot the succulent leaves turn yellow, wrinkled, you should start watering them.

 Lack of sunlight 

Lack of sunlight is another reason as to why the succulent turn yellow. If you notice your succulent is growing tall and slender together with succulent turning yellow, that is also one more indication the succulent tries to give that it is lacking sunlight.

Despite the slow growth succulents have, they will tend to bend towards the direction where they get sunlight. Hence, they will look tall and thin.

 Bug Infestation

 Mealybugs could be the most annoying factor for you specially if you are an indoor Gardner. They tend to survive on the new growth of succulents.

They could do greater damage for the plan and leaves will turn yellow in color. This happens because of succulents trying to conserve its energy.

There will be some tiny creatures who have occupied plenty of places where you cannot even access the succulent plant.

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Unfortunately, they can spread all over the plant if you don’t attend to it then and there.

 Planting in the wrong soil or in pot

Identifying this cause for yellowing could be challenging among the succulents However, it is equally important as the other factors.

In case, aforesaid reasons signs are not visible on the plant, you may decide that your plant turning yellow could occur due to a mistake you had done with your soil type, potting. It is a well-known fact that they need soil with good drainage.

There should be enough draining holes for this purpose to be fulfilled.

 Natural aging

As the time passes by, leaves die. In fact when the plant grows it will start shedding some of its leaves. This is how it has formed naturally in their growth pattern.

It is said that so much energy is required to retain all the leaves on the plant. The normal pattern is that once the plant stops giving the nutrients to certain leaves, they will turn yellow and finally will end up being fallen on the ground.

You do not have to bother on this condition since it is a part of their lifecycle.

Once you spot your succulent with yellow leaves at the base, it indicates that it is about to shed those leaves. This could be frequently spotted if it is in the event of flowering.

This is mainly done to conserve its energy for flowering. In this circumstance, you can give that little extra help for the plant by removing the brown, dried out wrinkled , yellow leaves.

Succulents getting mushy_dead2

How to fix

 If we wish to overcome these issues, we need to take necessary steps then and there. The solutions we need to take for each cause are as follows.

Over watering –

First and foremost you should observe the plant closely to see what has gone wrong with your plant for it to turn yellow.

The simplest thing to do as soon as you notice this issue is cutting down on watering. Best would be to halt watering for a few days.

Then, you can realize whether the water has been absorbed. If all water has been absorbed and if the soil is dried enough, you can resume watering again.

Additionally, you have the option of replanting them in a new pot which contains a good drainage. that could be done if there are no root rots.

Moreover, you can add some gravel, pebbles at the base of the new pot which will consequently stimulate  better drainage.

However, if you come across any black spots around the stem, following actions should be implemented.

  1. Firstly take it out from the pot as well from the soil very cautiously without making any damage to the plant.
  2. Secondly trim the area which has the black spots and leave the healthy part  for several days until it gets fully dried enough. Ensure that you do not expose it for direct bright sunlight.
  3. Once the succulent is dried enough, remove the old soil and plant them in a new pot along with a new soil mixture.  It must be a well-draining one.
  4. Ensure that you water them after one weeks’ time from its repotting.  Furthermore, be watchful to  water those moderately.

We can get the plant to bounce back faster if the over watered yellowing is identified at the initial stage. Once you cut down on water, we can rescue the plant.

On the other hand, if the yellowing has spread all over the plant along with black spots , chances are that plant will deteriorate entirely. Ultimately  we will lose it.

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Under Watering

If you realize that under watering has factored in your succulent to turn yellow, without hesitation start watering them on a regular basis until its requirement gets fulfilled.

You can ideally water the plants once a week and let it soak properly. Underwatering does not mean that we need to over water them. Hence, make sure you use a pot with a good drainage system which will not help to retain water in the pot.

Consider that you witness some roots forming on the stems. If you come across any condition like that, that shows it is running short of water. Literally, underwatering has resulted in turning the succulents yellow.

Lack of sunlight –

 Generally, if a certain part of a succulent is  not getting the essential sunlight, that particular part will start turning yellow before they fall off.

This could be an indication where you can determine the yellowing has been caused due to this factor. The part which is turned to yellow is usually the part which is covered from sunlight.

A small remedy to overcome this issue is changing the pot’s or the container’s direction where it is placed. This could be done on and off. Best to do it about once a week.

It will help the plant to gain sunlight for the entire plant. Once the whole plant gets exposed to sunlight appropriately you will see how the plant starts to  grow like a healthy plant.

If that is still not adequate, try using an artificial plant light which will be useful in this scenario.

Bug Infestation-

 If you see your succulent has yellow spots along with wrinkled leaves, stems , discolored flowers etc. without a doubt you can assume that your plant has got infected with bugs, pests.

Most frequently spotted bugs are mealybugs, aphids, spider mites. We should attend to this issue as soon as we can as if not the repercussions will be much greater.

Unless we attend to this quicker, it will start spreading all over the plant. Best thing to do first is to isolate them from the rest of the plants. Make sure that it has not infected the other plants as well.

It is essential to identify which big has caused the yellowing of your succulent. Then, we can make our own insecticides with a mixture of alcohol and water. Spray it at the damaged areas.

It will be useful in eradicating these bugs. Apart from that, we can propagate new pants from the healthy parts of the plant. That is the best you can do if your plants are badly affected. Ensure you use equipment with hygiene for these purposes.

Planting in the wrong soil / pot –

 If the succulents are grown in the wrong soil and shown yellowing , the best thing to do is to trim the healthy part and let it grow in a better draining soil mixture.

Watering is encouraged only after one seeks time from repotting.

Consider that you have planted your succulent in a tiny pot. As they grow, when they realize that they lack enough space to grow , they will change their color to yellow.

That indicates  they want more room to spread out.

 Natural aging

Yellowing happens when natural aging could be ignored as it is a part of their natural life cycle.


Should I remove yellow leaves from succulents – 

Succulents are regarded as easy to maintain plants. Nevertheless, if they do not get their requirements fulfilled, they will start to turn their leaves yellow.

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You are encouraged to take out any dead leaves from the plant as well as from the soil. So that insects and bugs cannot survive there.

What does it mean when my succulent leaves are soft

When the succulents are having a healthy growth, they usually have firm and green leaves. Their leaves are somewhat different to other plants.

The reason for that is because they can store water in their leaves.  One factor which causes succulent leaves to become soft is the impact of the weather conditions.

Succulents are generally adapted to warm conditions and once they get  exposed to colder climates the leaves of the succulents will tend to become soft.

Secondly it could be an impact of watering. This is commonly spotted among the succulents. If the plants are not getting sufficient water, the leaves will start becoming soft.

Literary, the cells cannot retain water in the leaves and they won’t be able to maintain their thickness due to that. Hence, they will become soft. As a result of this, their healthy tissues will get affected.

How to identify  the succulents leaves have become soft    

You can just give a gentle squeeze to the leaves and feel it whether they are too soft. Secondly If you spot your succulent with its upper leaves wrinkled  that is a sign that their leaves are going soft.

As soon as you see this, ensure that you water them adequately.

How do I know if my succulent needs water

 Consider that your succulent is well watered and healthy then, you will spot the leaves more like  firm, plump , thick etc.  It will be the opposite  if it is running short of water.

In fact then you will notice the leaves will bend easily. Further when you touch them you will feel like they are rubbery. Additionally, when you see your plants leaves are shriveled or in a  wrinkled formation, that depicts it is lacking water.

Other than these, chances are that they will start to form aerial roots as well. Those aerial roots will be grown out of the stem above the soil surface. They will be either pink or white in colors. They form these aerial roots to gain some water, especially if it is in a humid area.

Having said that, if a certain succulent has formed aerial roots and if it has not shown any features of being underwater, you could ignore them.

leaves turning yellow jelly bean succulent

 Water related issues affect turning the leaves yellow in jelly bean succulent. If it’s both under watered or over watered leaves will start yellowing and finally will end up getting dropped off from the plant.

Leaves turning yellow on echeveria

 Over watering and under watering could result in leaves turning yellow on echeveria. In case you have watered the echeveria sufficiently and if you find the leaves are soft, mushy, and swollen etc.

the cause for yellowing is due to over watering.  Just like that, if you see the echeveria leaves are yellow ,wrinkled and withered , under watering has caused the yellowing.

In this circumstance we should take necessary steps like cutting down on watering, make sure you wait until the soil gets dried enough before you start with another watering session etc.

If it’s under water, it’s time for you to step in and resume watering as soon as you can.

About author

I’m Dr. Chamika, As a hobby love talking about plants and showing you that taking care of indoor plants. My website is knowledge I’ve learned over the years and continue to learn about growing succulents. If you’re a succulent lover, then you have come to the correct place.