How to save dying succulents and cacti

Plants add a little homeliness to a house, but they require a fair amount of attention. Many people prefer to have succulents and cacti in their homes because these plants are tough, durable and can live with minimal water. However, sometimes even the most durable of plants can wilt and die if they are neglected for long enough.

Succulents (including cacti) are some of the easiest plants to grow, but if they begin to die, knowing how to save them is an important part of caring for them. There are several reasons that may cause a succulent to wilt, which means various remedies to revive them. We’ll touch on the most common reasons below so that you can keep your beloved flora thriving in your home.

Succulents still need water

The most common reason for the death of a household plant is a lack of water. Even succulents and cacti need water. Before watering these plants, you will need to do some research on how much they need per week to remain healthy. Some cacti only need water once a month while other succulents need water every day. Beware of overwatering these plants too, as this can also cause them to wilt and die.

If the stem of the succulent or cactus is soft, squishy and rotting, then it is probably being overwatered. If the plant is looking shriveled and dry, then it will need more water. Don’t worry about dry and drying leaves near the base of the plants – this is natural. If the new leaves or buds at the top of the succulent are also drying out, then the plant needs more water.

Ensure the pot is well-drained

If your succulents and cacti are growing in a pot, make sure that water can easily drain through the bottom. Water that sits in the soil can rot the roots and this damage is sometimes irreversible. The soil should be sandy – do not use clay or fine particles as this type of soil holds onto water. 

To test if the soil is adequately damp, insert your finger up to the second knuckle – the soil should be cool and moist. If it is too hard, dry or warm, then the succulent will need more water. If the soil is too wet, then remove the plants from the pot to dry it out for a bit and refill the pot with new soil.

Other causes of death for succulents

Besides water issues, succulents and cacti can suffer from pests, not enough sun and low temperatures. Remember, these plants grow naturally in hot and sunny climates, so caring for succulents in cold and wintry conditions will require extra care. Ensure that your plants have enough sunlight every day and are kept in a warm room.

If your plants are being eaten by insects, use an organic pesticide or soap to remove the bugs. Remove any dead or chewed leaves – even succulents need pruning to a degree. This will allow all the nutrients and water to be used on the healthy parts of the plant. Just spend a few minutes a week inspecting your succulents and cacti to see what needs to be done to keep them happy and healthy.

Most of the time, caring for succulents is simple. If they are starting to die, find a remedy as soon as you can because there will come a point of no return. If all hope is lost, preserve the healthiest part of the succulent and try to replant it. This will allow a new specimen to grow and could save you a bit of money.


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