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Changes in the behavior of your plants, like succulent leaves curling down, can be problematic for garden owners. As hardy plants known to withstand extreme temperatures and drought conditions, succulents, unfortunately, aren’t invincible. There are a few possible reasons your plants’ leaves could be curling down, from too little light to too much water.
Main Reasons for Succulent Leaves Pointing Down
Succulents are prone to many common issues that other plants experience, such as overwatering and underwatering. They are also susceptible to pest infestations and require a unique mix of soil for optimal nutrition. With a healthy balance of their needs, your succulent plants will grow easily, but changing conditions can be damaging.
The three primary reasons as to why you might notice succulent leaves curling inwards or downwards are:
- Under- or overwatering
- Improper light conditions
- Poor soil drainage
Let’s take a look at some of the most common concerns plant owners may experience.
We all know that all plants require water, whether you have indoor succulents or outdoor ones. When you look at the general makeup of succulent plants, you’ll find thick and hardy stems and enlarged roots. Even their foliage looks engorged and feels thick and fleshy between the fingers.
In their native desert environment, succulents absorb as much water as possible and hold it in their reserves. This instance occurs because they don’t know when the next rainfall will be, and they need to be prepared.
By storing water in the stem, the plants can continually refresh themselves until the next rainfall. With that said, when succulents are outside of their natural habitat, they need a regular watering schedule. Without one, they’re prone to be overwatered or underwatered, especially by beginners.
Let’s take a look at succulent leaves pointing down from over- and underwatering in more detail.
As its name suggests, overwatering occurs when you give your succulents more water than they need. Unlike with other plants, overwatering can be particularly dangerous for succulents because of how they store moisture. Too much fluid in their system can cause the plant cell walls to burst, causing irreparable damage.
With excess watering, succulents could experience the following issues:
- Leaves falling off easily at the stem
- Succulent leaves curling inwards
- Succulent leaves curling down
- Leaves will feel too soft and supple
- Leaf will shift to a light or translucent coloring
The largest concern with overwatering, aside from plant damage, is the condition of your succulent roots. Once the roots are damaged, there’s little hope you can revive the plant. However, catching overwatering on time makes it a fixable issue.
How To Fix Overwatered Succulents
There are a few easy-to-follow steps you’ll want at your disposal to fix your overwatered succulents.
1. Decrease Watering
The very first thing you’ll need to do is decrease your watering to ensure the plant isn’t over-saturated. You’ll want to inspect the soil every other day to determine how moist it is. If the damp soil feels just as wet as the first day, it’s time to transplant the succulent into dry soil.
If you’ve begun to notice the soil is getting drier as the days go on, you’re on the right track. Then, as soon as the soil feels bone dry, you can continue with your newly developed watering schedule.
2. Drain Excess Water
Check the bottom of your plant pot to see if there’s extra moisture beneath the soil. If so, you’ll need to drain the excess water to give the roots some time to breathe. It can also be a good idea to change containers to ensure all extra moisture has been removed.
To prevent this issue from happening in the future, simply put your plants in pots with drainage holes. Drainage holes are a fantastic way to get rid of extra water without having to do so manually.
3. Allow the Plant to Dry
The final recommendation for overwatered succulents is to give the plant some time to dry. Ideally, you’ll want to keep it in a partially shaded room for two to three days. This timing should allow the roots to dry just enough before being replanted.
Like waterlogged soil, underwatering could be a cause for a change in your succulent leaves. When dehydrated, you might find the leaves start to curl inwards or point down. In severe cases, the leaves may fall off the stem entirely.
Although succulents are known to be relatively drought-resistant, they do require watering over time. You’re most likely to notice underwatering if water evaporates from your soil too quickly. In this case, you might want to consider changing your growing medium and increasing the watering frequency.
How To Fix Underwatering
To fix underwatering, it’s recommended you find a good blend of potting soil designed for succulents. Most of these mixtures will contain porous soil, sand, and crushed pebbles or rocks for adequate drainage. You’ll find your plants’ roots will have plenty of moisture to absorb without drowning, ideal for the plant’s overall health.
When you begin to notice signs of underwatering, such as brown, wrinkled, or downward-curled leaves, increase your succulent’s water supply. For example, instead of giving your plant water every 14 days, try every 10 days and adjust as needed.
The second issue to consider when your succulent leaves are curling or pointing down is light. These plants require bright light to grow strong and healthy. Remember, they grow natively in the desert, so they traditionally have access to plenty of sunlight exposure.
Different succulents have different light requirements, so it’s important to double-check the species you own. Based on their needs, you’ll want to ensure that you give your plants a healthy amount of direct or indirect light.
One of the main concerns for succulents is etiolation, which happens when they get insufficient sunlight or no light at all. Let’s take a look at some common issues your succulents could experience with too much or too little sunlight.
Too Much Light
Undoubtedly, succulents do well in bright light for specific periods. For example, six hours of bright light can be helpful but any longer can cause burning. The common signs of sun damage in your plants are easy to spot, as the foliage will often turn red or brown.
Too much light exposure can also cause the leaves to wither and curl. You’re most likely to notice these issues during the spring and summer when the days are longer. When your plant gets too much light, it’s also expected the soil will dry too quickly and cause dehydration.
To help fix plants exposed to too much light, you’ll want to place them elsewhere. The succulents you have may fare better in indirect sunlight and lower temperatures. After a few days in their new environment, you should see healthy leaf texture and color changes.
Not Enough Light
The second issue you could experience with lighting is not giving your succulents enough light. As mentioned, some species do best in direct sunlight while others prefer indirect light. If you’ve begun to notice your plant’s leaves curling or pointing up, it could be from a lack of light.
You’ll want to consider placing the plants in an area that gets more sun for longer periods. If you don’t have much light, investing in artificial light, like grow lights, can help. You can customize the lighting schedule for all of your plants with grow lights to give them the perfect amount.
You’ll likely have to invest in grow lights during the winter to protect your plants anyway. You’ll need a tool that allows you to provide ample heat and light in the dead of winter.
Soil is the growing medium your succulents rely on to get adequate moisture throughout their growth cycle. Many desert plants, including succulents, prefer sandy soil that is relatively dry and offers optimal drainage.
The most important thing to note when choosing soil for your succulents is its composition. You’ll need a mixture that contains sand, crushed pebbles, and some soil. The combination of these ingredients offers moisture, sufficient drainage, and support for the roots.
If your soil is lacking, your plants won’t get the water they need to survive, leading to dehydration. It’s also important that you customize your watering schedule to accommodate the soil type. For example, sandy soil will require more frequent watering than a standard potting mix.
Opting for potting soil without enough drainage can be equally as damaging as soil that dries out quickly. Remember, if your succulent’s roots are submerged in water, it can lead to root rot and other diseases. You’ll need to find a good middle-ground that gives your plants just enough support.
Succulent Leaves Curling Down
When you begin to notice succulent leaves curling down, it’s time to check their environment. From the soil’s drainage to the amount of sunlight your plants receive, all of these factors should work together. You’ll need to create a symbiotic relationship to give your succulents everything they need for vitality.