When it all goes horribly wrong…

So, things are going great and you’re very pleased with your new succulent plants. But, then things start going wrong and your plants get stretched, rot appears, and there are bugs on them!


Why is this happening? What is going on?

Well, all plants get problems if they are trying to grow in the wrong conditions. If they don’t have enough light, they stretch to reach more. If they get too much water, the roots will rot, and it starts going up the stem.

There are so many things that novice (and not so novice) growers do to plants before they gain enough experience, and succulents are particularly sensitive to a few common missteps.

Over watering is one, trying to grow them in a dimly lit space is another.


The most common issue is growing succulents in offices, or even in homes that have enough light for us, but not enough for succulents.

Even if you’ve successfully grown low light plants like ferns and african violets, succulents are a whole other kettle of fish.


The response when a plant looks like it’s wilting is to water it.

Many plants indicate a need for more water by wilting, but in the case of succulents, it usually indicates that the roots are in distress, so watering it more just compounds the problem.

Resist the urge to water your plant!

And, don’t move a plant that looks like it needs more light directly into the path of full sunlight – it will sunburn.

Move it gradually, over a week or even more, from a dimly lit area to a window or other full light place – this doesn’t apply to putting it under a fluorescent light – this can happen immediately.

Another major issue with succulents is a lack of nutrients, even though most of them will survive quite nicely in lean soil.

This is most often caused by the wrong type of soil.

Plants like epiphytes that originate in tree tops don’t appreciate being planted in peat moss – it’s acidic and wrong for them, even though they like leaf mold and compost as a component of their growing media.

The application of some Dolomite lime can go a long way towards correcting an acidic soil. Try this before you start dosing them with fertilizer.


If you keep these things in mind when starting out with succulents – bright light, and low water – you’ll have great success with them. It’s not luck, it’s just benign neglect.