Succulent plants add color and texture to the garden landscape. These plants are interesting, not only in their appearance, but also in the structure of their stems and leaves. Native to arid climates that experience little rainfall, succulents have thick fleshy stems and leaves that are capable of storing water. Water stress is one of the primary reasons that succulent plants experience wilting. However, there are other cultural practices that cause succulent wilt.
1. Water Stress
Water stress that causes the wilting of succulents can include too much or too little water. Although succulents store water reserves in their leaves and stems and are capable of surviving periods of drought, like most plants, too little water causes the leaves of the plant to wilt, drop off and die. An under-watered succulent plant typically displays indentations in its leaves, as well as a lackluster color before wilting. Over-watering also causes wilting in succulent plants. The leaves appear limp, shriveled and weak when the plant is receiving too much water. The best way to avoid over-watering succulent plants is to allow the soil completely dry out in between waterings. This typically equates to watering your plant once a month or less. To ensure proper drainage, provide your succulent plant with well-draining soil, such as a sand or loamy mixture. When growing your plant in a container, ensure that the pot has drainage holes in the bottom.
2. Temperature Stress
The ideal temperature for a succulent is between 65 and 75 degrees Fahrenheit (18 and 24 degrees Celsius). In a mild Mediterranean climate, this means succulents are adaptable to outdoor growing, although it is a good idea to consider container growing. Move your containers of succulents indoors if the nighttime temperatures dip below 60 °F (15 °C). If a succulent gets too cold, the leaves of the plant begin to wilt. A deadly combination for succulent plants includes not only cold, but also wet climates.
3. Light Stress
Succulents are full sun plants. Without the proper amount of sunlight, these plants lose their vigor and experience an array of health problems, from invasion by pests and diseases to a loss of color and wilting of stems and leaves. Plant succulents in a south-facing area of your landscape. Situate container-growing plants in a south-facing window. Make sure your succulent receives direct sunlight for half of the day, with partial shade during the heat of the day. If you notice your succulent is wilting due to lack of sunlight, slowly increase the amount of sunlight the plant receives. A sudden increase of light acts as a shock and can kill your succulent.
4. Bacterial Wilt
Young succulent plants are susceptible to a bacterial pathogen that causes wilting. Also called bacterial wilt (Ralstonia solanacearum), this disease causes rotting, wilting and collapsing of a plant’s succulent tissue. It is spread by insects, such as the cucumber beetle, that feed on the plants. While there is no cure for a plant affected with bacterial wilt, preventative care is available in the form of insecticides to keep beetles from spreading the disease among your garden plants.
- Succulentopedia: Browse succulents by Scientific Name, Common Name, Genus, Family, USDA Hardiness Zone, Origin, or cacti by Genus
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