HomeCactus & SucculentsWhy Succulent Leaves Turn Yellow? 10 Reasons and Solutions

Why Succulent Leaves Turn Yellow? 10 Reasons and Solutions

Wondering – Why My Succulent Leaves Turning Yellow? These Reasons and Solutions will help you out!

The answer to Why Your Succulent Leaves Turning Yellow is simple. Yellowness on succulent plants can be a sign of several problems, from overwatering to lack of sunlight and pest infestation. In this article, we will explore all the reasons behind the yellow succulent leaves problem and ways to resolve it.

Check out 28 Best Succulent Vines and Climbers here

Why are Your Succulents Turning Yellow?

Yellowing of leaves is a common issue in succulent plants, which is often caused by excessive watering. This is primarily because succulents have adapted to survive in arid environments and do not require as much water as other plants.

Furthermore, insufficient watering and exposure to sunlight are also potential causes of yellowing foliage in succulent plants.

Reasons and Solutions Behind Succulent Leaves Turning Yellow

Reason 1: Overwatering


One of the biggest reasons for yellow succulent leaves is overwatering. Succulents are adapted to dry climates and do not require frequent watering. This repeated watering can lead to root rot, which causes the leaves to turn yellow and mushy.


  • Morning: Watering in the morning allows the soil to dry throughout the day.
  • Check Soil Moisture: The topsoil should be dry before the next watering.

Signs of Overwatering & How to Save an Overwatered Plant

Reason 2: Under-Watering

Although less prevalent than overwatering, underwatering can still cause succulent leaves turning yellow for succulents such as Portulacaria afra or Senecio haworthii.

One of the symptoms of under-watering is the yellowing of leaves, which can also appear with a withered and fragile texture.

Sure Shot Signs of Underwatered Plants


Follow the same procedure as the overwatering – which means water when the topsoil feels a little dry to the touch. However, do make sure that you are not extending the period for more than 3-4 weeks.

Reason 3: Insufficient Light


Insufficient sunlight could be another reason for the yellowing of your succulent leaves. This lack of light can also cause your succulent to elongate and become leggy.

When they don’t get enough light, they might stretch and lean towards the light source, causing the plant to become leggy.


It’s essential to ensure your succulents receive adequate sunlight to prevent succulent leaves turning yellow.

  • To address the issue of insufficient light, move your succulent to a location in your home where it can receive more sunlight.
  • Ideally, succulents need a minimum of three hours of direct sunlight each day to thrive.

Reason 4: Pest Infestation

Succulent Leaves Turning Yellow 4

For indoor gardeners, the invasion of pests is a nightmare, and mealybugs are among the most damaging. These pests have a particular affinity for fresh succulent growth, causing significant distress to the plant.

As a survival mechanism, the plant may yellow some of its leaves to conserve energy in response to this stress. These pests typically inhabit the hidden corners and crevices of your succulent plants, encased in a web-like substance.

If left unchecked, mealybugs can spread and infest your entire plant.


Swift action is necessary to combat succulent leaves turning yellow, as a severe infestation can cause irreparable damage to your plant.

Gently wipe affected areas with a cotton swab dipped in rubbing alcohol or diluted neem oil.

You can also use an insecticide, which can be either store-bought or homemade, following the instructions provided, to address this problem.

Best Organic Pest Control Approaches Every Gardener Should Know

Reason 5: Wrong Soil / Potting Mix


Although more challenging to detect, it’s crucial to remember that the culprit behind succulent leaves turning yellow could be the soil as well.

Succulents thrive in well-draining soil, so it’s critical to use soil with adequate drainage that doesn’t block the flow of water. Refrain from using 100% garden soil.


Go for this potting mix:

Coarse Sand

  • Purpose: Provides drainage
  • Ratio: 1 part
  • Type: Horticultural sand or builder’s sand

Potting Soil

  • Purpose: Supplies essential nutrients
  • Ratio: 2 parts
  • Type: Organic, well-draining soil

Perlite or Pumice

  • Purpose: Enhances aeration
  • Ratio: 1 part
  • Type: Horticultural perlite or pumice

Check out more DIY succulent soil recipes here 

Reason 6: Leaves Dying Naturally


It’s important to note that succulent plants naturally shed leaves as they grow, as it can be challenging to maintain all leaves on one body and requires significant energy.

When the plant stops providing nutrients to some leaves, they’ll begin to yellow and eventually fall off, which is a natural part of the plant’s life cycle and is not a cause for concern.


Aid the natural shedding process to prevent succulent leaves turning yellow by following these steps.

  • To assist your succulent in this natural shedding process, gently remove overly brown and dried-out yellow leaves when you notice them.
  • Use clean, sharp scissors or pruning shears to trim away the yellowed leaves at the base where they connect to the stem.
  • Be cautious not to damage healthy leaves or stems during this process.

Reason 7: Root Rot

Yellowing succulent leaves can be a sign of rot, a fungal disease that affects the roots’ ability to provide moisture to the leaves. To address this issue, it’s crucial to diagnose and treat root rot promptly, followed by preventive measures.

What is Root Rot?

Root rot is a fungal disease that affects a plant’s roots. It occurs when the soil is too wet all the time, leading to the growth of harmful fungi. These fungi attack and damage the plant’s roots, making it difficult for the plant to absorb water and nutrients.

How Root Rot Affect Succulent Leaves? 

  • When the roots are compromised by rot, succulents struggle to absorb water.
  • As a result, they can’t provide enough moisture to their leaves.
  • Lack of moisture causes the leaves to turn yellow and eventually wilt.


You can easily take care of your succulent leaves turning yellow by following these steps.

  1. Remove the Plant: Take the succulent out of its pot and gently shake off the soil to expose the roots.
  2. Trim Infected Roots: Using clean scissors or pruning shears, cut away the damaged and mushy roots. Ensure you cut at least half an inch above the damaged area.
  3. Let the Roots Heal: Allow the succulent to air-dry for a couple of days to let the cut roots callus over. This prevents further infection.
  4. Change the Soil: Replace the old, potentially infected soil with fresh, well-draining succulent potting mix.
  5. Repot the Succulent: Plant the succulent in a clean pot with good drainage.
    Control Watering: Be cautious not to overwater. Allow the soil to dry between watering sessions.

How to Treat Root Rot in Houseplants Like a Pro

Reason 8: Nutrient Deficiency


Succulents are beloved for their vibrant green hues, but when succulents turns yellow, it’s a sign that something might be amiss. One common culprit for this color change is nutrient deficiency.


Use a balanced liquid fertlizer after diluting it to 1/4 of its recommended strength. Apply it once in 2 to 4 weeks – the weak dose will ensure that the plant stays green and colorful without the risk of being overfed.

Reason 9: Wrong Pot Size


The size of the pot you choose affects your succulent’s health. Using a pot that is too can disrupt the balance between the plant’s roots and the soil, leading to stress, root rot, and overwatering – all these can result in yellowing of leaves.

A bigger pot means more volume of soil and more volume of soil means more moisture retention, which succulents and cacti detest. 

Here are Plant Pot Sizes from Inches to Gallon


General Rule of Thumb

  • For Small Succulents: Choose a pot that is just 1 inch larger in diameter than the root ball.
  • For Larger Succulents: Opt for a pot that is 2 inches larger in diameter.
  • Re-potting: Never use more than 1 size bigger pot than the old one.

Reason 10: Age of the Plant


Succulent leaves turning yellow as they age is a common issue. Yellowing also happens when the plant eventually reaches the end of its natural lifespan.


If your succulent has reached the end of its age, there’s nothing much you can do apart from taking the right care of it.

Discover 11 Beautiful Succulents With Petal Like Leaves here

How To Prevent Succulent Plant Leaves From Turning Yellow​

  • To prevent succulent plant leaves from turning yellow, it’s crucial to provide them with the essential requirements they need to thrive. These include water when required, well-draining soil, and enough direct sunlight.
  • When you purchase a succulent plant, ensure that you have the appropriate pot, soil, and environmental conditions to help it flourish.
  • Water your succulents infrequently, only and only when the soil goes dry. And when you water, do it thoroughly, making sure the growing medium gets wet properly and water seeps out from the drainage hole.
  • Regularly check your succulent for any indications of problems like stress, pests, or diseases, and experiment when necessary, such as adjusting the watering or sunlight.
  • Succulent plants are straightforward to care for and can easily be revived if needed.

Check 45 Unique DIY Succulent Planter Ideas for 2023 here


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