How to save a rotting/leggy/etiolated succulents/cactus

(If your baby looks like this, it is rooted, which grows really tall and there are no leaves in the between)

Succulents are hardy plants that add a striking appearance to any garden or home. Performing best in U.S. Department of Agriculture 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. Succulents are typically not susceptible to insect or pest infestation, but overwatering can lead to black stem rot, a preventable and easily fixable disease. Succulents with signs of black 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 black 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 mixture and clean out the pot thoroughly to ensure no remnants of the fungus 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 areas of the plant 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. Using the cleaned out pot or a fresh one, combine equal parts soil, coarse sand, and peat moss. Don't reuse any of the materials used with the infected plant.

    5. Pour roughly 2 inches of the mixture into the pot. Place the newly doctored succulent into the pot with the roots lying on top of the soil. 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 don't 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.

    Things You Will Need

    • Soil

    • Coarse sand

    • Peat moss

    • Clay pot

    • Gardening knife


    Succulents grow best in well-drained soils that provide high water-holding capacity. Planting succulents in a clay pot with a drainage hole ensures there is no sitting water and that the soil dries out between waterings. Succulents are dormant during the winter and should only be watered lightly at this time.


    In addition to black stem rot, succulents may be susceptible to sunburn or frost damage. Sunburn can occur when succulents are hastily moved from a shady spot to one that receives direct sunlight. You may notice a whitish discoloring on the leaves, or in severe cases, a brown scar in the affected areas. While it is uncommon for insects to attack succulents, check your plant regularly for mites, mealybugs, and scale.


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    Tags: Succulent

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