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Why Is My Succulent Turning Black? 5 Common Causes And Solutions

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While succulents require very little care, there are a few common issues you might encounter while growing these hardy plants, especially if you neglect them very often. 

The unusual, unsightly black spots and portions on succulents are the indirect way to show underlying problems on their health. Why is my succulent turning black? This article will show you the most common causes, how to check the symptoms, and practical solutions for each case. 

Why Is My Succulent Turning Black
“Help?! Bottom leaves turning black and falling off why?” via Reddit

5 Reasons Why Your Succulent Is Turning Black

Black succulents are typically caused by overwatering, underwatering, sunburn, bugs, infection, and disease. Black spots most often develop on the leaves and stems of the plants.

Once they appear, there must be something wrong with your succulents, and you should take action to keep them happy and healthy. 

This is often done by pruning the black portions, treating them with particular substances (in case of bug infection), or throwing away the entire tree if these black spots can threaten the plant’s well-being.  


The most common cause for black leaves on your succulents is overwatering. Unlike the usual tropical house plant, succulents do not need to be watered very often. 

They can handle arid conditions incredibly well, and too much water can only cause them to rot from the roots up. In such a case, their leaves will feel mushy and soft. 


You need to remove your succulents from the pot and check if the root is still in good condition. If the answer is yes, then cut off the black, mushy leaves and stems and then transfer the plant to a new pot of dry, well-draining soil. 

Once it settles on the new home, you should skip watering it for a few days. Start your watering schedule after 2 or 3 days but remember to reduce the frequency. 


It’s unlikely if you underwater these desert plants. Yet, if you neglect to shower them long enough, black spots can also make an appearance. It happens pretty slowly; often, the color of the leaves turns from green to brown and finally to black. 

Unfortunately, when the leaves go black due to underwatering, your succulents likely die on you as there is nothing you can do to restore it. 

To check for underwatering issues, you should refer to the amount of water your type of succulents need. In addition, run your fingers through the leaves to check their conditions. 

Succulents are known for storing the water under foliage. As a result, the leaves should feel fleshy if they receive enough water. 

If you feel the dryness and brittleness, chances are you should give them a good shower. Another way is to touch the soil, and once it feels dry, go and water it. 


The best course of action is to follow a good watering schedule to keep your succulents healthy. If any of the inspecting methods above raise the red flag, adding more water is the way to go!


While these xerophytes plants can adapt well to drought conditions, excessive exposure to direct sunlight can wreak havoc on them and cause the leaves to turn black. 

This change does not happen overnight as your plants need to be exposed to the direct sun for some time. The leaves often experience a series of color changes before they turn into black, usually from green to orange/red to brown and then black.

Why Is My Succulent Turning Black 2
“Why Is My Succulent Turning Black?” via Reddit

Leaves turning black due to sunburn can happen to either plants in their native environments or those grown in shady, indoor conditions. 

For the latter, if you want to transfer them from indoors to outdoors, the change should be made gradually to allow them to get used to the new environment. 


More often than not, sunburned succulents do not stand a chance to survive due to severe damages. The black leaves indicate that the nutrients and nourishments cannot flow through them anymore. 

However, if you notice some green parts are left on the plant, you can do a few things to save it. First, prune all the sunburned parts. 

Next, it is advised to put the pot under direct sunlight and increase the amount of exposure time so the tree can adjust accordingly. The plant should be placed under the direct light for 3 to 4 hours at first before you raise it to 1 hour each day.  


Sometimes, the problem of your succulents turning black appears in the form of tiny black spots that resemble freckles. If this is the case, your plants are infested with bugs. 

The main enemies of these dessert fleshy plants are mites, mealybugs, and aphids. These critters feed on the plants and leave dead tissues behind their wake. That is those tissues that create black spots on the leaves. 

Why Is My Succulent Turning Black 3
“these tiny black bugs appeared on my succulent and it’s beginning to die – any suggestions?” via Reddit


The best remedy for bug infestation is to separate the affected leaves and stems from healthy ones. Another thing you can do to restore your plant is to soak the cotton balls and wipe the bugs off. Alternatively, a potassium soap or insecticide can help. 

Infection or disease

If the black spots appear underneath the leaves instead of the top surface, the most likely culprit is viral infection. The most common infection on these hardy plants is orthotospovirus, which also attacks tomatoes and causes tomato wilt. 

It is worth noting that infection spreads at a fast pace, so when it manifests itself as black spots, your succulents might be infected severely, and you can’t save it. 


Unfortunately, there are not many solutions for reviving your infested plants. In the worst-case scenario, there is no choice but to abandon the entire plant. However, it is often the solution to prevent the infection from spreading wildly from nearby succulents. 

When the fungus still does not make it far to the whole tree but only to specific leaves, you can revive it in a few ways. Prune off the black leaves with a clean pair of scissors. 

If you plan to use the scissors on other trees, it pays to disinfect them first before cutting. It prevents the fungus from transmitting via the cutting tool. 

Once you complete the cutting, visually inspect your succulents in the next few days. If the black spots still spread, the fungus already makes it to the base. The best advice is to throw away the tree altogether when this happens. 


We hope you can answer the question “Why is my succulent turning black?” by the end of this article. By taking some precautions and paying attention to watering, light, soil, and leaves’ conditions, you can avoid the situation in the first place or restore your adorable plants to their glory!