Succulents are hardy plants that add a striking appearance to any garden or home. Performing best in USDA hardiness zones 3 through 9, succulents are good plants for the novice and expert gardener alike, as they require little attention. Because succulents are desert plants, they should be watered sparingly. They get occasional pests, but most problems associated with succulents are bacterial or fungal diseases caused by overwatering that can lead to root or stem rot. Plants with signs of root or stem rot should be treated immediately.
1. Check the plant for infected areas. These typically appear as dark brown to black spots or areas on the low part of the plant. Other signs of root or stem rot include puckered flesh with a dark tint around the infected area.
2. Stop watering a plant with rot. Remove the plant from its pot. Remove the soil and clean out the pot thoroughly to ensure no fungus remnants are left.
3. Cut the infected black stem from the plant with a garden knife. Let the healthy portion of the plant dry naturally for several hours, keeping the succulent out of direct sunlight during this process. If other plant areas are showing minimal signs of rot, keep an eye on the plant. Succulents can recover from stem rot if properly watered and placed in a warm, dry location.
4. Use the cleaned out pot or a fresh one, commercial potting mix for cacti, or combine two parts of soil, one coarse sand, and one part perlite. Do not reuse any of the materials used with the infected plant.
5. Pour roughly 2 inches (5 cm) of the mixture into the pot. Place the newly doctored succulent into the pot. Fill the pot with the soil mixture until it reaches the base of the stems. Firmly pat the soil around the plant.
6. Place the succulent in a brightly lit spot with warm temperatures. Succulents prefer dry climates, so do not place the plant in a humid location.
7. Water the plant with just enough water to moisten the soil one week after repotting. After the soil has completely dried out, you can water more thoroughly.
Planting succulents in a clay pot with a drainage hole ensures there is no sitting water, and the soil dries out between waterings. Most succulents are dormant during the winter and should only be watered lightly at this time.