HomeSucculentsWhy Do Succulents Shrivel?

Why Do Succulents Shrivel?

Succulents shrivel for a variety of reasons but there is one main cause, and that is underwatering. Let’s dig deeper, together!

Succulents shrivel because they’re underwatered. If your succulent is starting to look wrinkled then chances are you’re not giving it as much water as it needs. Succulents don’t need a lot of water, but neglecting to water them for an extended period is bound to have a negative effect.

In this section, we’ll be looking at some of the possible causes of succulents shriveling – that includes underwatering, of course – and how you can revive the plant to the beaming cutie you were looking forward to when you bought it.


How often do you water your succulent? And, how much water do you use every time you do it? These are the two most important questions to ask yourself as far as underwatering is concerned.

With a succulent, you’re in luck since you don’t have to grab the watering can every other day. But, you still have to keep the water flowing at least a few times per month. You also have to ensure your plant gets enough water to sufficiently sustain it to the next drenching.

That’s basically how succulents survive in their arid natural habitats where rainfall is a rare commodity. To get by, they collect and store water in their leaves and stems hence their signature engorged look.

So guess what happens when they deplete these water reserves? The leaves become less turgid giving a shriveled look.

Other signs of underwatering include:

  • Dried up leaves especially at the bottom of the plant
  • Wrinkly leaves/stem
  • Yellowing leaves.

Remedy for Underwatering

Fixing underwatering means, of course, more watering. But you have to be careful not to end up with an overwatered plant which is far direr.

Just keep to the recommended watering frequency of once every 1-2 weeks during the warmer months and maybe once during winter when most succulents are dormant.

And when you do water, be sure to fill the pot until water flows out through the drainage holes at the bottom. That’s how you know your succulent will have enough water for some time.


Guess there’s just no winning with succulents. If you’re not underwatering them then you risk losing them with overwatering.

Overwatering can have an almost similar effect to your succulent as underwatering although the signs are naturally going to vary. In addition to the shriveling, an overwatered plant will also spot pale leaves, rotting stems and branches, and squishy yellow leaves.

The overwatering problem can also be worsened by other aspects such as a slow-draining potting mix and the wrong pot (not made of ceramic or terracotta, lacking drainage holes).

Remedies for Overwatering

You’re better off underwatering your succulent than overwatering since recovering a plant that’s battling rot is close to impossible. The best you can do is to propagate the few upper leaves that haven’t been affected yet.

That being said, you can still turn around your succulent’s fortunes if rot hasn’t kicked in. All you have to do is cut back on watering until the soil mix dries out completely. You might also have to repot the succulent for a better fresh start.

Remember to adhere to the appropriate watering schedule this time. And also, check out the pot and potting mix to ensure they’re ideal for raising healthy succulents.


Succulents don’t have much of a pest problem, thankfully. But you have to watch out for these pesky little things because they strike out of the blue when you least expect.

They feed on your succulent’s fleshy tissues which will naturally leave it a bit droopy and shriveled. And not just that. Some pests spread diseases that can further dull down your succulent.

Remedies for Pests

The first thing you’ll need to do if you discover pests on one of your succulents is to separate it from the others – that’s if you have a collection. This will prevent the pests from spreading to other plants and potentially causing more damage.

Next up, you can either grab a pesticide or dilute rubbing alcohol (70%) to kill off the pests. Don’t also forget to spray the soil mix since this is where some pests lay their eggs.

Also, when you repot your succulent, always use a fresh potting mix just in case the previous one has unhatched eggs.

Extreme Temperature Variations

Both hot and cold temperatures can cause wilting. Succulents have a specific range of temperature within which they thrive – this is typically from 60 to 80°F.

That being said, some can pull through readings of as low as 40°F and others are okay with temperatures of up to 90°F.

Remedies for Temperature Variations

Undoing the effects of extreme temperature involves mainly moving your plants indoors – if they aren’t already. It’s much easier that way to protect them from the extremes during both summer and winter.

This is also where your choice of a container matters. A good pot should protect your plant’s roots against wild temperature changes. As usual, ceramic and terracotta are your best options.

Sun Damage

Succulents love the sun and light in general. One of the surest ways to have vibrant plants is to ensure enough light reaches them daily. But you have to be careful too much of it doesn’t necessarily translate to better succulents.

Naturally, you’d expect a plant exposed to too much sunlight to shrivel since there is a significant amount of water being lost. Apart from the shriveling, the succulent will also have dry black spots, especially on the leaf edges.

Remedies for Sun Damage

Fixing a sun-damaged succulent is simple. Just move it out of the sun’s direct rays and it’ll recover after some time. The dark spots wouldn’t disappear, though. The sun-burned leaves will grow old and fall off.

Nevertheless, ensure your plant still receives enough light for the first half of the day. For the other half when the sun is uncomfortably hot, keep the plant in partial shade.

AC System

Anything blowing or sucking air close to your plant is going to cause problems.

The blowing or suction action dramatically increases the rate at which your plant loses water to the surrounding air. It also promotes rapid drying out of the soil mix before even your succulent can draw in enough water.

At the end of the day, the effect is pretty close to what you’ll see in an underwatered plant.

Remedies for Shriveling Due to an AC System

The first thing is to, of course, move your succulent away from the direct path air from an AC vent. You might have to water but that’ll depend on whether or not the potting medium is dry.

But whatever different spot you settle on, ensure that your plant will receive enough light to maintain healthy growth.

Final Thoughts

Succulents shrivel mainly due to underwatering, something that you can fix real quick. Just increase the watering frequency to once every 1-2 weeks.

That being said, remember to consider other possible causes like overwatering, pests, overwatering, extreme temperatures, and your AC.

It helps to address the problem as thoroughly as possible.