Succulents leaves turning brown is a common issue among plant lovers. If you think these symptoms have anything to do with them coming in various colors, you may be deadly wrong.

Succulents Leaves Turning Brown

Succulents do have a ridiculous amount of varieties and come in all colors, sizes and shapes. But if your succulents turn brown (or red), you may be in for a fight with some unwanted situations.

This article will deal with the most common causes of brown leaves on succulents, so you can save your green plants from ending up in a compost bin!

Why Are the Leaves on Your Succulents Turning Brown?

The leaves on your succulents are turning brown due to factors such as sun damage, staying outside in cold temperatures and freezing, pests or fungus rot. If the plants are missing essential nutrients or if you’re over- or underwatering them, the leaves can also turn brown. 

Succulent plants are resilient and low-maintenance, adorable pieces of pot art, making them ideal for any gardening hobbyist! There’s a great deal of effort involved in killing these resilient growers — but if succulent leaves turn brown, it’s not a dying succulent yet, but you’re definitely moving in this unwanted direction!

Causes of Succulents Leaves Turning Brown

All joking aside — of course, we all want to see our beautiful green babies alive and kicking! So if your succulents suddenly begin to go brown on you, don’t despair just yet, as you can still save them.


There are quite a few things that will make your succulents develop brown or dead leaves, so in this article, we will outline the most common cause and see some options that can save them from the point of no return.

– Sun Damage

You would have thought that succulents are sun lovers and cannot be hurt by them even if they are placed directly in front of it. But you’d be terribly mistaken. Sun can become too hot even for these little fellas. Once temperatures begin to get over 104 degrees Fahrenheit, they will begin browning from burn-up pretty fast!

There are a couple of signs that will tell you if your succulents are getting sunburnt. Common signs include brown spots, plants becoming too soft to touch, or if the plants are beginning to lean or collapse.

– Frost

Frost will do similar things to your succulents as the sun will, but your succulents may get frostbitten quite easier than sunburnt. That’s because your succulents will tolerate high temperatures much easier than they will withstand the cold weather.

Other than your succulent leaves turning brown, severe frostbite symptoms can even manifest as crystals forming in the very tissue of your plants!


It will give your succulents a wilting and even crispy appearance. Succulents are much more prone to falling down and never recovering from frost, but there are things you can do to save them!

– Pests

Your succulents won’t like those pesky bugs any more than you! And some of the grossest and most horrible ones include aphids, mealybugs, grasshoppers, birds, and even mice. Yep, succulents are plants just like any other and will get “bugged” around. Aphids and mealybugs are the ones you need to be afraid of — at the same time, they are the most common!

Aphids are small insects that will often appear translucent but can come in a variety of colors! Often, their bodies will be protected by hard brown shells, and this is where you can destroy them easily. Once they become free to roam, you’ll be in all sorts of trouble — better prepare to change everything for your little green friend.

Similar to aphids, mealybugs are cotton-like bugs that will suck the soul out of your plants. Both of these are sap-sucking insects and will leave juicy traces behind them, which is how you can recognize that your succulent is under attack!

– Fungus Rot


Fungal diseases are common causes of succulent leaves going brown, and there’s nothing more annoying than having to deal with these. Oftentimes, fungal diseases require a complete change of living conditions, repotting, and quarantine.

Powdery mildew is a common fungal disease that can attack your succulent. It often starts as a circular white spot, but very fast, it becomes a whole heap of white circles, which in time show the yellowing leaves, which then turn brown and black in the end!

Sooty or black mold is much less damaging but equally as painful to see. It will show itself after pest infection and your succulent will show spots of black and brown fungal growth where your plants have been damaged (especially the upper parts of leaf surfaces). Anthracnose is the one that will turn parts of your succulents brown, stiff, and hard, like tree bark!

– Underwatering and Overwatering


There’s no “set in stone” time for when to water succulents. A general rule of thumb suggests that we should let the soil dry out completely between the waterings. This general rule can, in some climates, mean three days and in some, three weeks!

This is why too many people cannot (or will not) let their patience determine the watering, rather, they water their succulents when they water the rest of their plants, or they don’t do it as regularly at all.

All of this leads to a series of common problems with either over or underwatering. If you’re dealing with overwatered succulents, you should tell by the spongy feel of the soil. However, succulents may be turning yellow because of it, making them soft and mushy to the touch. Also, at this point, leaves are too easily knocked down or broken off the plant. It can even brown your leaves.


Underwatering isn’t as common as overwatering, as your succulents will manage droughts much better than any other plant. But it can still happen!

And you can spot it by leaves slowly drying up or going brown on you. Dry bottom leaves aren’t an issue usually, but if you spot them on the upper parts of your plant, then you may be in big trouble.


– Lack of Nutrients

Your succulents turn yellow and eventually brown if you’re growing them in poor soil and if there’s a lack of nutrients.


If you’re using commercial potting soil, it comes with a pre-added fertilizer and compost — your succulent will thrive off this balance for quite some time. However, if you’re growing the succulent in your mix, you may want to purchase additional feed for the plants.

Eventually, all of the nutrients will be flushed out with water, or dissolved to the point of not being present anymore in the soil, and you can always add some more! Be mindful, though, as cacti and other succulents aren’t heavy feeders and will suffer from too much of a good thing.

Other than leaf browning, lack of nutrients will often cause deformed or stunted growth, all of which are indicators of a lack of specific nutrients. In the long term, your succulents will grow better with the addition of balanced general fertilizers.

How Can You Save Succulent Plants With Browning Leaves?

You can save succulent plants with browning leaves by dealing with the root causes. If your plants are overexposed to the sun, you should move them into the shade.


Solutions for Succulents Leaves Turning Brown

You shouldn’t leave these plants outside if it’s cold, avoid adding too much/too little water, and battle infestations.

– Prevent Sunburns

There are more than a few things you can do to prevent sunburn. The most common steps include placing your succulents in a more shaded area (especially in the hottest periods of the day).

If your succulents are grown in pots, this will be a quick fix for them. If your succulents are placed in the ground and aren’t that movable, you could buy some shade cloth and create that afternoon shade for them.

Acclimatization is crucial when moving your succulents from place to place. Don’t water them as soon as you’ve placed them in the shade. Instead, try to wait a few hours before they get familiar with a sudden temperature fall, even if it’s a few degrees difference!

– Don’t Leave Succulents Out in the Cold

The most obvious thing you can do is to bring your plants inside and change the temperature to something they’re more used to. Consider gradually raising the temperature instead of shocking your plants with sudden changes!

If your succulents cannot be moved inside for one reason or the other, you can buy frost cover to protect them from severe cold. Mulching the ground around them is also a worthy option to provide some ground cover. If your succulent is affected, you can still save it if you can find any living tissue on it! Told you these were resilient!

– Get Rid of Pests

To get rid of aphids or mealybugs, we don’t recommend the use of chemicals. Especially if your succulents are grown as in-house plants. You can, instead, use a highly effective solution in the form of a small amount of neem oil mixed with a large part of water and just a few drops of liquid dish soap!

After the application, you can rub the infected spot with rubbing alcohol, just to make sure you’ve killed off the eggs as well. However, any substance shouldn’t be used without care, and too much can harm your plants as well.

Once you’ve applied a general pest control solution, quarantine your succulents back to health and make sure they don’t transmit those pests onto any other plants.

– Treat Fungal Diseases

There’s something positive about a small-scale mildew infection, as it can go away on its own. However, a very effective fungicide for powdery mildew is copper.

If you’re looking for a more alternative solution, there’s a highly effective mixture you can apply. Just mix a tablespoon of baking powder and handwashing soap in a gallon of water, add it to the mister and spray all over the succulent.

Don’t apply any treatments during the daylight, as they may evaporate too quickly, and it’ll be like you’ve done nothing! Baking soda will promote sunburn too.

Sooty mold is best removed with the use of a horticultural or neem oil solution. Neem oil is less toxic to plants, so we recommend going with it.

If you’re dealing with a heavy case of fungal disease, such as anthracnose, removing the affected leaves will be your best bet! You can also use fungicides to remove any fungal bodies that are possibly still on the plant. 

You can use copper sprays or any that contain chlorothalonil, propiconazole, or thiophanate-methyl.

– Avoid Overwatering and Underwatering

Overwatering is an easily solvable situation, and if you spot the signs of overwatering, some quick remedies can be as follows — let the soil dry out completely, after which it’s advisable to do a repotting.

Repotting is done since the soil has lost its aeration properties. If your succulent is damaged back to the stem, you can freely cut everything and let it grow back again.

Overwatering can be a carrier of fungal infections and even root rot, so it’s advisable to quarantine your succulent after repotting for a few weeks, just to make sure you’re not dealing with anything else.

Underwatering is logically reversed by giving the plant some water! However, you shouldn’t go all-out ballistic with the watering, as it may shock any plant.

Just give it a steady splash every other day until you’ve seen the succulent has begun reviving. If you notice that the entire plant has shriveled up and there are no healthy parts, then your succulent may be too far gone.

– Use Nutrient Remedies for Succulents

When a lack of nutrients occurs, it’s always a great idea to repot your plants with a fresh, well-draining mix.

This way, you can rest assured that you’re losing all previous traces of nutrients from your old soil. You can add a fresh potting mix that already has some nutrients inside, or you can use a well-balanced fertilizer right after repotting.

Succulents and cacti aren’t heavy feeders, so they won’t take much fertilizer either way. That’s why it’s advisable to dilute any fertilizers in a substantial quantity of water before applying them to the soil. Feeding your succulents once every month during the growing season should be quite enough for them to thrive!


– Should Browned Succulent Parts Be Cut Off?

Yes, browned succulent parts should be cut off. Removing these helps your succulent by adding an aesthetic and unique value to it, but more importantly, it also helps your succulent regain health much faster. If you leave brown leaves on for too long, they may cause root rot. 

– Do Succulents Need a Lot of Water if They Are Kept Indoors

No, succulents don’t need a lot of water if they are kept indoors. A general rule of thumb calls for a complete soil drying up in between waterings. However, during non-winter months (or when temperatures are above 40 degrees), a good call is every other week. 

During winter, watering should fall to once a month since succulents are dormant in this period.

treatment of Succulents Brown Leaves


Succulent leaves going brown is no laughing matter, so you should always approach this carefully!

It can point to a great many things, but just to reiterate what we’ve said in this article:

  • Close-up inspection is always the best when you notice brown parts showing up on your succulent. A close-up inspection will show you what exactly you are dealing with!
  • Sun damage, over and underwatering, and lack of nutrients are always things that can be resolved fairly easily by changing one or more factors of your succulent living conditions.
  • Fungus, pests, and diseases often call for a more delicate and tailored approach and the use of repellents and fungicides. Whatever you go with, try not to use chemicals that can do more harm than good!

And remember to always quarantine your infected specimens until they look healthy enough and don’t pose a threat to others! Happy planting.

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