Succulent Stem Turning Brown – Why? What Should I Do?

Succulents are amazing plants for many reasons; they are beautiful to look at, easy to plant and maintain, and very resistant to adverse conditions.

In fact, one can call them indestructible. These qualities make them a favorite choice for most people to plant around their houses and gardens; even beginners can have a great time with these plants that require little to no special attention.

All they need is excellent draining soil, direct sunlight, and little water, and they are good to go. However, despite the almost indestructible nature of these plants, they are indeed destructible.

They have their peculiar problems that can be developed when certain conditions prevail, and if these conditions are not quickly rectified, these indestructible creatures can be destroyed. These problems can come through leaves where they drop off, turn yellowish or brownish, wither, are disfigured, or develop dark spots.

It could be through the stems that stretch out, turn brown or black, or stay stunted. The roots are not left out as well as they could rot. Most of these problems can be traced to specific sources.

Here, we examine one of the significant issues you can encounter when dealing with succulents, the stem turning brown. We look at the causes of this and proffer solutions on how to correct it and prevent it from happening.

What Could Cause The Succulent Stem To Turn Brown

Various reasons could cause your succulent to develop specific problems. It could be due to diseases, although the chances of this are low. Over-fertilizing leads to the accumulation of chemicals and salts at the base of the soil, lack of sunlight, underwatering, and, most importantly, overwatering.

We’ll look at overwatering because it is the most likely cause of brown stems.


The primary reason succulents fail is that too much water is added to their soil; in the case of brown stems, this is also the number one cause. Unlike most plants, succulents do not need much water to survive and thrive; in fact, it is designed by nature to sustain themselves and survive in very harsh conditions.

Continuously filling its soil with water is a common mistake most people make, and it always backfires, leading to the rot of the plant. This rot could start from the top of the roots.

If it starts from the roots, it might not be detectable immediately until it gets to the stems, and you notice the brown stem of your succulent. This is why paying great attention to your succulent is essential.

Once you notice anything strange, perhaps leaves turning yellow or drooping, it is imperative to investigate the cause. You can always remove the succulent from the potting soil without fear that such removal will kill it. Check the roots for rot and the soil to determine whether it is soggy or overwatered.

A regular investigation like this will save you the heartbreak of watching your succulent rot away.

Now that you have understood the likely cause of your succulent brown stem, it is time to look at the solutions.

How To Fix Your Succulent Brown Stem

Your succulent stems turning brown is not the end of the world; in some cases, it might be the beginning of a new one where you avoid all the mistakes that could lead to brown stems and rotting succulents.

1. Drying Off The Plant

This entails that you remove your overwatered succulent from the pot and let it dry off. However, where it is already rotting, and the rot has spread to the stem, making it brownish, this method is likely to be ineffective. So it is best to use when the plant has just started showing signs of being overwatered. At this stage, unpotting the plant, leaving it to dry, and changing the soil or letting the soil itself dry out might do miracles for your succulents.

Why This Is A Great Solution

It is fast and effective if you discover the problem early enough.

2. Cut Off The Rotting Or Brownish Part.

After removing the succulent from the pot, you can trim off the rotting or brownish part of the stem and replant the good part; this will likely correct all the problems. But when trimming, it is essential to cut a little above the visible brownish part. The reason for this is that succulents usually start rotting from the insides.

When you start seeing the brown stem outside, the rot has most likely extended beyond that, so cutting off a little above the visible part is a way to ensure you trimmed off all the unhealthy parts.

After trimming it off this way, don’t replant it immediately, there is no need to be hasty. Leave it out for a few days, so it hardens before you eventually put it back into the soil.

Why This Is A Great Solution

With a little trim, you can have your succulents bloom again, it is easy and works most times. New leaves can develop by cutting them.

3. Apply Sulfur

Sulfur is usually used to acidify the soil and kill all the harmful microbes, but when your stem turns brown, and you have to cut it off, applying sulfur to the base of the remaining part is not a bad idea.

The main point here is to use sulfur when you suspect that your succulent or soil has a disease after cutting off the rotting stem. Sulfur should not be relied on as a solution to fix your succulent brown stem.

Why This Is A Great Solution

It will protect your delicate succulents from bacterial and fungus infections that could harm your plants over time.

4. Beheading And Propagating

This is a very drastic solution that is only advisable as a last resort. If a sizable part of your stem has turned brown due to rot, then cutting off the good part, even if it is some leaves, and propagating them, can be the solution you need.

Cut off the succulent about two inches above the rotten stem, and if the brownish coloration has reached the tip, see if you can root out some healthy leaves, and plant it in the soil.

Since water is the leading cause of the problem, don’t water it immediately, give it some days or one at least before watering again, and if luck and mother nature are on your side, the cut parts will grow into brand new succulents.

Why This Is A Great Solution

It gives you the chance to salvage your plant in an extreme case. You give the plant enough room on this approach so that the new leaves can develop properly.

5. Changing The Soil

Once you discover that your succulent stem has turned brown, the first step is removing it from the pot. After doing this and following it up with any of the previous solutions, it is time for replanting.

Don’t make the mistake of planting into the old potting soil, especially if your succulent started rotting from the root or notice the soil gets waterlogged consistently.

Get fresh, porous soil that will drain and aerate well to use for your succulents.

Why This Is A Great Solution

It prevents the infected or poor soil from affecting the replanted succulent.

You will save both your plant and yourself the trouble of having to rescue a dying plant.

What To Do To Prevent Succulent Stems From Turning Brown

Prevention is always better than cure, so you must do everything to prevent your succulents from rotting in the first place. Or now that you’ve seen it rot do everything to avoid a repeat of the occurrence.

These are the things you should take note of to achieve that.

1. Use A Loose Soil That Drains Well.

When potting succulent for the first time or repotting after you have cured the rot, you must use a porous soil. As was already mentioned, loose, well-draining soil is ideal for keeping your succulents from turning brown. However, if you could use this type of soil from the start, that would be ideal.

This will give your plants breathing space and let the water reach the roots and evaporate quickly. Unlike when you use dense soil will that will choke the plant and store up water. So, please make sure the soil you use is soil that can hold water yet allow it to permeate all parts of it.

2. Use A Potting Container With Drain Holes.

Maintaining the health of your plants depends on proper drainage. Make sure to select a pot with adequate drainage holes to prevent any extra water from remaining in your potting mix. There are so many containers available out there, whichever you decide to use for potting should be a porous container with drain holes.

This will ensure that water evaporates quickly, and the soil doesn’t get all soggy. Don’t just pick a container because it looks beautiful. How much better your plants will grow as a result of this will surprise you.

3. Water Your Succulents Properly

Succulents are not always thirsty for water, so don’t drown them. Understand the water requirements of your succulent before you add water to its soil. The soil needs time to drain off and become just a little bit dry before you water it again, so allow enough time between watering.

Some require more water than others, take note of all these so you won’t overwater or underwater. Always check the soil before watering to ensure the soil is completely dry. It is noteworthy to point out to reduce watering to the barest minimum during winter.

Succulents hibernate during this period and don’t need water that much.

Bottom Line

The method you will use in treating the brownish stems of succulents will depend on how early you discover this problem; this also determines your plant’s likelihood of survival.

So please pay attention to it and act quickly before the problem gets out of hand. It is essential to know your plant and what it requires because even as all succulents belong to a family, there are variations in caring for them based on what they want.

But above everything, all succulents need great loose soil, sunlight, and minimal water to thrive.

When you can do that, there is a much lower chance that you will have brown stems and yellowish leaves.

How to Build a Moss Wall: Tips and Tricks

If you've ever been to a fashionable office or trendy restaurant, then it's likely that you've encountered moss wall art. What's more, if you...

16 Types of Succulents That Are Easy to Maintain

There are few houseplants more popular among plant lovers than succulents, and it's easy to see why. They're easy to care for, almost impossible...

Everything You Need to Know About Irish Moss

Irish Moss (Chondrus crispus): The champion of gardens, Irish moss may seem like just another mossy plant at first glance. However, it offers various...

Succulents 101: How to Care for a Succulent Plant

If you are searching for a plant that adds more than a touch of style to your home? Look no further than succulents! These...

Read More

Related Articles